I’ve recently noticed my two daughters taking an interest in Minecraft, an imaginative video game in which players can build — and take apart — constructions out of three-dimensional cubes. It’s kind of like Legos on steroids.
At first, I was resistant to the idea of my young girls (ages 7 and 11) playing video games. My sons — and husband — have always been the “gaming” junkies in our household. My girls have been more interested in singing, dancing and finding any excuse to be up on stage. Frankly, I liked that they weren’t glued to a computer screen.
I didn’t realize that by condoning this gendered disparity in my children’s play, I was inadvertently sending them a message that video games and computers are just for boys — not to mention contributing to the nationwide wage gap.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, girls today are steering away from math, science and computers in record numbers. The percentage of women graduates in computer science is at a 39-year low. In the mid-1980s, 37% of computer science majors were women; in 2012, that number had dropped to 18%.
While women make up more than 51% of the U.S. workforce, they hold just 26% of computing-related jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Silicon Valley, the numbers are even worse. Recent diversity data from tech giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo reveal that women hold on average just 16% of the tech jobs.