“SAN FRANCISCO — For many male scientists, the high-tech hook was set by Star Trek and Star Wars. Now Google hopes to increase the number of future female hires by counting on the appeal of a math-savvy cartoon character named Loretta and a code-loving foster kid named Mariana.
As tech continues to fuel economic growth here and internationally, there’s a growing need for employees who are fluent in the digital language of the trade. In fact, by 2020, there will be a million more computer jobs than students with that degree, according to Code.org.
That’s led to a push to get more people of color into the computer science pipeline — and women of all races into the field.
Which is where Loretta and Mariana come into play. They’re characters in two Disney-ABC Television Group shows — Miles from Tomorrowland and The Fosters — who, with Google’s assistance, have embraced computer science in order to cast a positive light on girls who code.
“Our research shows that for girls when it comes to focusing on a career, perceptions of that profession rank second in importance only to parental encouragement,” says Julie Ann Crommett, who headed diversity efforts at NBC Universal before joining Google in 2013 as program manager for computer science education in media. She recently was part of a tech-meets-Hollywood panel at SXSW in Austin called Decoding Percepciones: CS, Latinos and Storytelling.…”