Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) ((NASDAQ:GOOG) is undertaking a new public service initiative called ‘Made with Code,’ aimed at encouraging girls to become computer programmers. The launch includes a new website and a grand opening event in the Big Apple, and the program itself involves $50 million earmarked for scholarships and activities such as ‘girl coding parties’.

Google Made With Code

Google’s Made With Code initiative

The new Made With Code website features several female technology icons and a variety of coding lessons for girls, including a lesson for using code to make bracelets. The website also has a database listing U.S. schools with coding programs for girls. Google Inc has also invited 150 girls to a Made with Code grand opening event in NYC, where indie rocker Icona Pop will perform live and female programmers will demonstrate how they use code, such as creating games, animated movies or designer fabrics.

As a part of the initiative, Google Inc is also giving away $50 million in scholarships to girls who would like to take up programming in college, as well as grants for girl-coding parties for Girl Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide.

The Made With Code program is a partnership with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that operates summer coding schools for girls, and The Clinton Foundation, which encourages full participation by girls and women in all aspects of society.

Programming dominated by males

Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the computer science is growing rapidly, with more than 4.2 million jobs projected by 2020. That said, less than 1% of female high school students even consider a career as a programmer. The College Board reports that out of the 30,000 students who took the computer science Advanced Placement test in 2013, less than 20% were female.

The situation doesn’t look any better in the workforce, as according to the BLS, only about 30% of computer science professionals are women.

Another perspective

Brian Fagioli of BetaNews offers another perspective on the Made With Code initiative. He says, “Both boys and girls should feel proud of accomplishments made by men and women equally. Boys should be just as empowered and inspired as girls when watching videos showing the accomplishments of these women. Google’s launching of an initiative that segments people based on sex and gender arguably has the opposite effect than what it intends.”

Fagioli’s main point is that Google is some sense reinforcing female stereotypes as much as breaking them down. “Google seems to think that showcasing women that code will empower these girls, and maybe it will. But rather than teach what a woman can do, why not teach both boys and girls that gender and sex mean nothing when it comes to coding? Show them what human beings can do.”