The statistics are quite shocking: the share of women in the computing workforce has dropped to just 24 percent from its figure of 37 percent in 1995. To combat this, General Motors has devised a new partnership with the non-profit “Girls Who Code” organization.
The partnership was announced last week, and it’s both GM CEO Mary Barra‘s and GWC’s goal to inspire the next generation of women engineers and computer science professionals.
The initiative, which promises a $250,000 grant from GM to GWC operations, clearly has close ties to Barra. Fortune spoke with the GM CEO to discuss the program, and it’s not fueled just by the gender gap.
“We’re finding talent, but we’re really competing for it,” Barra said, adding that the amount of women who are getting engineering degrees is not growing at the rate it should be, and in some years, it’s even gone down. “And you want the best and brightest.”
“What we find is General Motors is starting to create a leadership role as it relates to connectivity, autonomous and sharing,” she said. “We’re finding more and more people. Last year I think we had a 25% increase in the amount of people who came to GM.com to say ‘Hey I want to work at General Motors.’ We think that’s good. But we are worried overall that there will be a shortage.”
Barra herself rose through the ranks at GM and hopes the program can mentor young women pursue an STEM-related path.
GWC’s mission is to present the opportunities to girls as young as the middle school age, before societal norms take hold to discourage math and science studies for women.
“There’s a moment there where we can light that fire and have that fire continue,” GWC Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani said.