Make your daughter play video games. It will help her get a high-paying job.
By Dana Goldstein|Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012, at 9:22 AM ET
The United States has produced viable female presidential candidates, women athletes who command millions of dollars in endorsements, and the first female Nobel economist. Yet there is still no female equivalent of a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. Women continue to lag behind men in computer science, where their share of the workforce has actually declined over the past 25 years. Today, women hold 27 percent of all CS jobs, down from 30 percent a decade ago, and account for just 20 percent of undergraduate CS majors, down from 36 percent in 1986.
The tech gap begins at home, where boys get their first computers and video game consoles at a younger age than girls and are more likely to play with toys that build spatial reasoning skills, like Lego. It continues in schools, where female students voiceless confidence in math, science, and computing, and it persists in the corporate world. Even among the younger generation of tech companies, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, fewer than 10 percent of all computer programmers—the field's core job—are women, according to industry insiders.
he effects of this gender gap reach far beyond whether women are building video games or coding Web apps alongside men (and making technology female-friendly—remember theSiri/abortion flap? Or the more recent dust-up over Asus’ leering tweet?).Over the past 10 years, three times as many jobs have been created in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—than in non-STEM fields, and STEM workers have been far less likely to experience unemployment. Women who work in STEM also earn more than other female workers: an average of $31.11 an hour, compared with $19.26 for non-STEM women. The wage gap between the genders is also smaller in STEM fields, just 14 percent, compared with the 21 percent difference between men’s and women’s earning powers in the rest of the workforce.
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