Senate passes bill tackling gender gap in coding

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.

“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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