Metro Schools working to fill need for female coders

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Inside Overton High School’s IT Academy the diverse student body is learning a language that no matter what their native language is they can use it to make a good living.

They are learning how to write computer code.

“I have in one of my Programming II classes a student from Nepal and a student from Mexico and they sit next to each other,” teacher Brent Sanderson said. “Neither one of them is super great with English but they help each other because they have a grasp of Java which is the language we teach.”

Sanderson told News 2 there are a number of coding jobs that are outsourced because there aren’t enough qualified coders to match the demand.

“There are many programming jobs that go overseas because the people who can speak English are not talented enough to do the programming,” he said. “So the programming job gets done by someone over in Asia who can actually program and then just emails their code back to the company who is contracting them out.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2024 there will be 488,500 new computer and information technology jobs added to the economy.

That is a 12 percent growth, more than any other occupation.

Then when it comes to pay, the median wage nationally is around $35,000. For coders, it’s $79,000.

Another need within coding its self is for female coders.

Sasha Pickett is the manager for web services for HCA. Her department manages all the web properties for HCA. That is about 840 websites.

She founded the “IT” Girls mentoring program inside Overton’s IT Academy, which pairs female students in the academy with female IT professionals working at HCA.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she said. “That is something that really stuck with me and I thought I wanted to show young girls that a lot of women work in the field.”

Some of the female students find it inspiring to work with their mentors from HCA.

“It is amazing to get to see that they are proving everyone wrong,” Overton High Student Khai Herdin said. “If they can do it, we can to. We are looking up to them like role models.”

The other people glad to see their daughters in the program are parents.

“I didn’t know which path to go, but I talked to my parents and a bunch of teachers and they said I.T. is involved with everything so I joined the I.T. academy,” Overton High School Student Jillian Lee said. “My dad thinks it is cool.”

For more information on the IT Academy and other academy options within Metro Nashville Public Schools, click here.

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