“The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” These words from writer and consultant Margaret Wheatley were some of the first I shared with a group of young women who joined us for the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. For 7 weeks, the bright minds came to our Dallas AT&T offices to learn about coding.

As part of our collaboration with the national nonprofit that seeks to inspire, educate and equip girls with computing skills for the 21st century, this program teaches young women – rising high school juniors and seniors – everything from mobile app development to robotics and web design.

I was encouraged to see these young women spending their summer break developing such critical skills. As Wheatley highlighted, diversity introduces creativity. And closing gender and ethnic representation gaps in the technology, media and telecommunications workforce is key to helping our industry thrive.

All too often in this field, there is very little representation from female professionals. Computing skills are the most sought-after in the U.S. job market, with demand growing 3x the national average, yet the gender gap in technology and engineering is getting worse. Despite increased demand for STEM-related jobs, the share of women in the computing workforce has declined from 37% in 1995 to 24% today.1

It’s critical we address this gap. That’s why, through AT&T Aspire, we work with organizations like Girls Who Code to help prepare young people for jobs of the future.

AT&T has hosted the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program since 2013. And this summer, we’ve hosted 9 programs in 8 cities across the country: Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

In addition to classroom education, the girls participate in field trips to major media and tech companies to meet some of the top executives, including women leaders here at AT&T.

Meeting some of these young women and watching their growth and development over their time in the Summer Immersion Program has been inspiring. I can’t wait to see where they lead us in the future.

1 https://girlswhocode.com/crack-the-code/