Senate passes bill tackling gender gap in coding

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Kentucky Senator Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown, on the floor of the Senate 3-3-20

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – It does not compute. Women represented 40 percent of the computer science workforce back in 1995. Today, it is less than 25 percent.

That’s why Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown said he wanted to be a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 193. He added that the goal of the measure would be to increase participation in computer science courses by underrepresented groups. Those include females, minorities, students with disabilities, English-language learners and students whose families are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

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“As a father of a daughter who wants to become an airline pilot … I’m very sympathetic to this cause,” Thayer said, adding that only 5 percent of the country’s pilots are women.

Thayer said the issue first came to his attention when he was invited to speak a few weeks ago at the Girls Who Code rally in the Capitol rotunda. He said the national nonprofitorganization is dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology.

The other primary sponsor, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, said SB 193 would require the state education department to annually report on public school students participating in computer science courses and other computer science educational opportunities.

The report shall also include the number of computer science courses or programs offered in each school, the nature of the computer science courses or programs, the number of advanced placement computer science classes offered and the number of computer science instructors at each school.

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, stood in support of the bill and urged legislators to follow up the report with any needed bills to address the gap.

“I think the goals are laudable,” he said. “We ought to be doing this.”

SB 193 passed by a 37-1 vote. It now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.