WASHINGTON, DC – Reshma Saujani, founder of the national non-profit Girls Who Code, told reporters, “Coding is the language of the future, and every girl should learn it. As I’ve learned from watching girls grow and learn in our classrooms, coding is fun, collaborative, and creative.” As one of the most rapidly growing fields in the United States, computer science careers require the best talent the nation has to offer; however, women are underrepresented in the tech industry despite their contributions to STEM. Therefore, the US House of Representatives’ Congressional App Challenge aims to train aspiring women coders today for the tech jobs of tomorrow, and in 2018, the Challenge enrolled women at twice the rate of Silicon Valley companies.
At the K-12 level, female students severely lack opportunities to learn computer science skills. In 2013, only 18.6% of students who took the AP Computer Science exam were female. Despite similar levels of achievement compared to men in STEM courses overall, there is also a large disparity in enrollment in other computer science and engineering courses. This affects women’s participation in computer science in higher education; only 28% of bachelor’s degrees in CS are earned by women, and out of those who attempt to pursue a CS degree, around 50% drop out of the field before graduating.
The Congressional App Challenge provides an opportunity for women to practice coding their own apps in a fun, yet stimulating atmosphere. Female K-12 students have created apps helping students manage their time, donate to wildfire-affected areas, and find funding for their start-up ideas. Since its inception in 2015, the Congressional App Challenge has recorded increasing numbers of female enrollment among its participants, and in 2018, logged a record high of 37% female enrollment.
The Congressional App Challenge is proud to partner with organizations such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, Technovation, Boolean Girl, Coder Girls, and more to bring computer science education to women and other underrepresented minorities in STEM.