Proposal Works Toward Closing the Gender Gap in STEM by Giving the Youngest Learners Access to 21st Century Computer Science Education
Part of Governor Cuomo's 2018 Women's Agenda to Create Opportunity for Women to Succeed in Every Area: Work, Health, Safety, Education and Family Life
Leaders in technology and education today endorsed Governor Cuomo's proposal to launch New York's largest State investment to expand high quality computer science education by offering teacher support and resources in computer science, especially for the youngest learners, starting as early as kindergarten and creating a continuum through high school. The proposal works toward closing the gender gap by giving the youngest learners access to computer science and is part of the Governor's 2018 Women's Agenda.
The Governor proposes a commitment of $6 million a year for the Smart Start program that will provide grants to schools for teacher professional development in computer science. This investment will deliver high-quality computer science education to schools across New York State by equipping teachers with the foundational skills and training needed to prepare New York's students for the 21st century economy. All schools will be eligible but grants will go to the highest need schools first.
"To keep New York at the forefront of innovation, we must level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success," Governor Cuomo said. "By expanding access to computer science education, we will close the gender gap and position the next generation of young New Yorkers to lead this thriving industry into the future."
By providing teachers support to become in-house experts in computer science, more students will be exposed to computer science and will self-select into it. Schools that receive an award will work with their Regional Economic Development Councils to tailor the program to regional businesses or future employers' needs.
In addition, the Governor will convene a working group of educators and industry partners to create new model computer science academic standards to be made available to any school. New computer science standards will create a foundation for curriculum and enable implementation across the state. By equipping our young people with high quality computer science skills at an early age today, we will prepare them for the highest paying, fastest growing jobs of tomorrow.
Computer science education is more important than ever before. Technology is among the fastest growing and highest paying sectors today, and the number one in-demand occupation in New York State. Computing occupations make up two-thirds of all projected new jobs in STEM, but even though 93 percent of parents report that they want their child to study computer science, the majority of New York public schools do not offer computer science in the classroom. It is important to reach students at an early age, as research has suggested that girls are less likely to pursue STEM careers as adults, even when equally talented mathematically.
In addition, there is a wide gender gap in the students studying computer science. In 2015, New York had 3,801 computer science graduates; only 18 percent were female. Only 3,761 high school students in New York took the AP Computer Science exam in 2016; only 25 percent were female. Studies have shown that women who try AP Computer Science in high school are ten times more likely to major in it in college, and Black and Hispanic students are seven times more likely.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "We know that computer science and STEM fields are the jobs of the future in today's global innovation economy. It's critical to educate our young people at an early age to prepare them for these jobs, particularly young women who are still often discouraged from nontraditional career paths. This career path can also assure women the financial independence that unfortunately eludes many, forcing them to remain in unhealthy relationships. Coding has become the great equalizer - this program will help close the gender gap in STEM and prepare all students in New York for good paying jobs in the 21st century."
Secretary to the Governor and Chair, New York State Council on Women and Girls, Melissa DeRosa said, "The jobs of the future are in science and technology, and to close the gender gap in those fields we must start early and provide comprehensive computer science education and resources to the youngest learners. This transformative investment will empower young girls across the state to learn the skills they need to thrive and lead in the 21st century economy."
Hadi Partovi, CEO, Code.org, said, "We applaud Governor Cuomo for his recommended budget that prioritizes and expands access to K-12 computer science in New York."
Reshma Saujani, CEO and Founder of Girls Who Code, said, "Girls Who Code is thrilled to work with Governor Cuomo to expand access to computer science for girls in New York State. This initiative, which focuses on reaching girls at an early stage in their education, will increase the likelihood that they continue studying computer science in high school and college. New York State's leadership in the effort to close the gender gap in tech will empower an entire generation of young women with the tools they need to compete and thrive in economies of the future."
Julie Samuels, Executive Director, Tech:NYC, said, "As the technology sector across New York State continues to grow and create more opportunity for New Yorkers, computer science education is increasingly necessary to ensure all New Yorkers can compete for the next generation of good jobs. Not only will increased access to computer science education help create those opportunities, but it will also be a boon for New York companies eager for homegrown tech talent and will set New York apart as the best place to build and grow tech companies."
Andrea Deveau, Vice President of State Policy and Politics of TechNet, said, "Computer science education is the foundation of the modern, technology-driven economy. With this proposal by Governor Cuomo, New York is taking a giant leap forward in making sure it has a plan for bringing computer science courses to every student and school in the state. On behalf of TechNet, I thank Governor Cuomo for being a champion of computer science education and putting forward this proposal that will benefit students, parents, and our economy."
Mary Snapp, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, said, "Many teachers don't yet have access to the professional development and computer science training that is needed in order to give our students the education necessary to get 21st century jobs. Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget will help close this gap in teacher training in computer science. Microsoft looks forward to working with him and the Legislature to ensure that New York students are future ready."
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two key areas of business opportunities across the globe, and therefore students with a strong computer science background will be well prepared for this next era of future job growth. I applaud Governor Cuomo for making the necessary investment to expand computer science education at younger ages, and I am particularly excited about the focus on getting more female students interested in STEM careers."
CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Vita Rabinowitz said, "CUNY is thrilled to learn of Governor Cuomo's forward-looking initiative to close the persistent gender gap in computer science education by offering teacher support and resources in computer science and technology. CUNY is eager to partner with the State of New York to accelerate its development of computer science tracks in teacher education and help diversify the computer science and tech workforces of tomorrow."
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said, "Inspiring our students, especially young women, to become excited about computer science and possible careers in STEM is a smart way to ensure that, years from now, our graduates can fill these in-demand technology jobs here in New York. This new investment in teacher training and a partnership with industry will clearly benefit students and the state in the long run."
Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, said, "By exposing all children to the wonders of computer science and engineering earlier in their school careers, we hope to encourage more of our students, particularly young women, to see these fields as areas where they can compete and flourish. Our educators are eager to work on model computer science standards and to help more teachers become in-house experts in computer science for their schools. Highlighting these changes as part of the Governor's 2018 Women's Agenda puts resources and attention where it is most needed: ensuring our students, especially young women, are prepared to join and lead in these fast-paced fields."
Monica Bugallo, Faculty Director of the WISE Honors Program at Stony Brook University, said, "Empowering women in computer science and engineering to create a more diverse workforce is our highest priority in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Honors program at Stony Brook. On behalf of our students, we are grateful for the Governor's commitment in this area, and for recognizing the need to encourage women to enter STEM fields."
Cathy Jeremko, New York State Master Teacher in the Southern Tier who became a teacher after a career in Computer Science, said, "As a female, strong in math and science, I graduated in 1980 with a BS in Computer Science. At that time, 37% of the undergraduate degrees in computer science were female. Then in the late 1980's the percent of women earning the degree started the downward plunge that still exists. As a middle school teacher, the support of the Governor and NYS in promoting the advancement of females in technical fields gives me the faith that we can create a brighter future where gender is not an issue in technical degrees earned, job titles held and the salaries commanded by any resident of New York State.
Stephanie Conklin, New York State Master Teacher in the Capital Region, who recently earned her PhD in Education Theory and Practice from the University at Albany, said, "The Girls in STEM day, hosted by the NYSMTP in the Capital region, allows girls to engage in computer science and engineering fields in a unique and engaging way with the best teachers in the state. When I see my high school students considering options for college, and college majors, my female students who report a real interest, and love of STEM fields are the ones who pursue these fields and stay in them once in college. If we can capture a love of math and science at a young age, we can have a real impact on encouraging female students towards STEM fields, like engineering and computer science."
Tracey Waters, New York State Master Teacher in Mid-Hudson, who became a teacher after a career as an immunologist/microbiologist, said, "Organizing Saturday STEM workshops for girls in the Mid-Hudson region is important to me because when I left my career as an immunologist/microbiologist to be an educator, I knew I wanted my career to have meaning and give back. I share my passion to inspire young women to enter careers that may change people's perspective of women in STEM. My work inspires me to motivate my students to realize what they can achieve."