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Teaching Girls to Code

American colleges and universities awarded about 1.7 million bachelor's degrees in the school year ending in 2010. Fifty-seven percent of those receiving degrees were female. But, only 18 percent of the women earned degrees in computer and information sciences.

Reshma Saujani would like to change that. She launched an organization called "Girls Who Code" in 2011. Her goal is to get more girls interested in science and technology.In the next 20 years experts estimate there will be about 1.4 million new jobs in science and technology. But there is a problem.

Reshma Saujani says, less than 20 percent of women are actually going into these professions, so there is an enormous gap. The underrepresentation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is called STEM by people who study it.

Reshma Saujani says it is caused by a bigger social issue. She says, girls and boys perform about the same in math and science. So it is not an aptitude issue. Reshma Saujani says we live in a society that sends messages that girls should avoid these fields of study.

Girls Who Code has partnered with educators, engineers and business people. Twenty girls took part in the group's first program last summer in New York City. They learned how to build websites, mobile apps, and create business plans. Still, it is only a beginning.

Resham Saujani says, if our goal at "Girls Who Code" is to really close the STEM gap, we realize we have to teach 2 million girls how to code in the next twenty years.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 29Oct2012)