Kit Steinkellner
August 30, 2015 11:02 am

In a recent op-ed for The Huffington Post, writer and mom Samantha Parent reveals that her two elementary school-aged daughters have recently taken after their gaming-obsessed brother and father and have gotten deep into the world of Minecraft. And, as Parent says, it was Sheryl Sandberg of all people who got Parent into the idea of her girls becoming gamers.

As Sandberg said during a recent talk she gave in Philadelphia about gender equality, “Computer games are the gateway to computer science. A lot of kids code because they play games. Give your daughters computer games. Ask them to play them.”

And, as Parent elaborated in her piece, we need to encourage girls to get engaged with STEM fields more than ever because “girls today are steering away from math, science, and engineering 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.”

Parent makes the important point later that getting more girls into STEM isn’t just about closing the gender gap in math, science, and engineering, it’s also about closing the gender wage gap.

“As Sandberg points out, since high-tech jobs pay well, a gender gap in computer science ties into the larger U.S. wage gap, where on average women still make 70 cents to the dollar compared to men.”

So, if there’s a little girl in your life who’s even a little bit interested in video games, it looks like it’s worth supporting that interest. She’s not just kicking back and having fun, she’s probably, without even knowing it, helping to make tech a more woman-friendly place AND closing that wage gap to boot. Not bad for an hour or two of playing Minecraft.

Related:

Amandla Stenberg is taking an awesome stand for girls in STEM

These gorgeous portraits of female scientists illustrate the importance of women in STEM fields

Image via YouTube

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