June 16, 2024


Built General Tough

Why don’t more Wisconsin public high schools teach computer science?

Mary Callanan, right, in 2015 during a Girls Who Code meeting at Marquette University with Ayanna Hairston, her coding partner.

I had never heard of computer science when I walked into Marquette University’s new Girls Who Code chapter my sophomore year of high school. And I certainly didn’t know that joining this club would launch me on a path to become a complex problem solver, and enter an industry that adds hundreds of thousands of jobs every year, and is eagerly (if belatedly) recruiting women.

Given these advantages, it’s troubling that of the 700 young women at Divine Savior Holy Angels only two of us showed up for that club. We’d all been in school for a while by then. Why hadn’t we been exposed to this field earlier? It didn’t compute.

In Wisconsin alone, there are more than 6,000 open computing jobs with an average salary of $80,456, according to Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to computer science education. Nationwide, software developer jobs are expected to increase at a rapid pace of 22% in the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.