Capito, Cortez Masto introduce legislation to encourage young women to pursue STEM education

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has been joined by Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto in the introduction of the "Code Like a Girl Act," bipartisan legislation that will create two National Science Foundation grant programs to encourage young girls to pursue careers in computer science. 

A companion bill, H.R. 3316, was introduced by Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

Capito said the tech industry provides many opportunities for students and workers to pursue great jobs and play a role in shaping and driving the economy.

"Unfortunately, despite the progress made in recent years, girls and women remain seriously underrepresented in STEM classrooms and professions," Capito said. "“The Code Like a Girl Act will help more young women see the opportunities available to them through computer science and other STEM fields."

Capito said this will help girls realize at an early age their incredible potential and empower them to follow their dreams.

Megan Bullock, co-founder of MESH Design & Development in Charleston, said women are currently vastly underrepresented in technology. 

"According to Pew Research, in 2016, women comprised only a quarter of America's tech workforce," she said. "And that needs to change because everyone benefits when girls are invited to have a seat at the keyboard."

Bullock said STEM education, and creativity in coding and computer science, is an opportunity for girls not only to learn how to code, but also how to take risks, solve problems, and build the confidence that combats what Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani calls the "bravery deficit" through growth, vulnerability and resilience.

The act will create two National Science Foundation grant programs to encourage young girls ages 10 and younger to pursue computer science.

One program will be a research grant to increase understanding of the factors contributing to the willingness or unwillingness of young girls to participate in STEM activities, and the other will be a testing of scalable models grant to develop and evaluate interventions in pre-K and elementary school classrooms seeking to increase participation of young girls in computer science activities from the earliest ages.

By:  Jordan Nelson
Source: Beckley Register-Herald