XX in Tech

Twice as Many Boys as Girls in New York City Took AP Tests in Comp Sci This Year

Where my girls at?
The 20 Girls Who Code participants working out of AppNexus's Flatiron office (Photo: girlswhocode.tumblr.com)

The 20 Girls Who Code participants working out of AppNexus’s Flatiron office (Photo: girlswhocode.tumblr.com)

In all the hubbub over expanding opportunities for young New Yorkers to get into the tech world, are the girls missing out?

The Daily News ran the numbers, and they are not encouraging: “Only about one in four students in many of the public schools’ top tech programs is a girl.” The methodology used to reach this conclusion is a little, well, mysterious, but the News also noted that, according to officials, twice as many boys as girls took AP tests in comp sci this year.

Believe it or not, though, the numbers here are actually better than the national average. A recent survey by STEM Connector, an advocacy organization, found that not even 15 percent of female high school seniors wanted to work in technology. High school seniors are notoriously likely to be clueless about what actually promises a paycheck (“I don’t need a backup plan, mom, my band’s gonna make it big”) but those are dismal numbers for a booming sector of the economy.

And before the Hacker News commentors swarm us with claims that women just flat don’t like computer science, it’s worth listening to Girls Who Code founder and public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani on the matter. She told the News that, “The gender gap is becoming an economic crisis, but its cause is cultural.”

In other words, high school girls weed themselves out of the tech workforce because they’re constantly told in a million ways, big and small, that coding is for boys, and nerdy ones at that.

Give that a ponder the next time you think about hiring a booth babe or otherwise cultivating a brogrammer image.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com