coding hands

Seventeen. Fifteen.

These are the dismal percentages of Google’s and Yahoo’s tech worker force that are women. Sadly, this isn’t so surprising when you consider that only 18.2 percent of computer science graduates are women, according to the National Science Foundation. Even worse, that percentage has gone down since 2009, when 29.6% of CS degrees were awarded to women. So while tech companies’ diversity records are pretty bad, one reason for that is because the pool of male graduates is simply bigger.

That’s why Google is trying to attack the problem at the source, partnering with Codecademy and DonorsChoose to commit $1 million in rewards to female high schoolers who learn to code. Teachers whose students complete a special Codecademy course will receive $125 worth of class supplies (like textbooks, tablets, etc.) via DonorsChoose, an educational crowdfunding platform. If four of their students complete the course, the classroom will receive an extra $500 worth of rewards.

This initiative is consistent with Codecademy’s larger mission of increasing the number of programmers across the world. “We think programming and twenty-first century skills should be accessible to anyone who wants to learn them, and that we are all capable of building the future,” Codecademy CEO and co-founder Zach Sims tells me. “This program is an attempt at pushing that notion even further.”

The classes are designed to be taken either in or outside of a classroom, and do not necessarily require the presence of a teacher.

Assuming a significant number of students participate, this is a potential win all around: Google increases the number of women interested in computer science, thus expanding the hiring pool and, one would think, the company’s employee gender ratios. Schools receive much-needed resources, which is an important component of this partnership — after all, computer science classes are worthless if a school doesn’t have the necessary technological resources. And finally, Codecademy gets its product in front of a whole new group of potential customers, and at a young age.