Establishing screen time limits is an essential part of parenting these days — but what if we also focused more, especially for girls, on how this screen time could be modified to learn a potentially usable (and even marketable) skill like coding? A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the astonishing gender gaps that exist in the field of computer science from high school and continuing into the working world. Stats that confirmed this gender disparity include that only .4% of women going to college intend to major in computer science and that the percentage of female computer science graduates has actually decreased (by more than 20%!) since the 1980s. This seems astonishingly counterintuitive given our increasingly technology-obsessed world.

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While there are now several nationwide and local pushes to get girls into coding (including Bill Gates and Google-backed Code.org  as well as smaller organizations such as the African-American founded and focused Black Girls Code), finding female mentors and role models in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields can be challenging since women are so underrepresented. Once girls are exposed to coding, however, they anecdotally perform as well as boys in games such as Minecraft. With coding set to become one of the basics (for better or worse) in thousands of school classrooms in the next few years, introducing girls to this creative skill through gaming may be an easy way to get girls and young women interested and involved. So the next time you are tempted to tell your tween or elementary-schooler to shut down whatever device she’s on, perhaps consider refocusing and introducing her to a skill set that can help her become creative, innovative, and a future female role model for others.

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