At a barbershop in Des Moines, Iowa, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told an undergraduate college student studying political science that she should learn to code. An NBC News correspondent pointed out that Harris had suggested the same to a student interested in law.
At Imperial Kuttz, Harris told this young woman, who is a polisci student in undergrad, that she should learn to code. It’s the second time she’s suggested that today — at an event earlier this morning, she told a student interested in law the same thing pic.twitter.com/QX8gjWvnFc
— Deepa Shivaram (@deepa_shivaram) October 8, 2019
That’s actually great advice for many young people. Learning to code during college can be incredibly important for standing out in a crowded field of growing college graduates. In 2000, there were 13.2 million students enrolled in higher education. In 2019, that number rose to 19.9 million. These numbers show the increase in competition that comes after obtaining a degree.
Developing a difficult skill, like coding, prior to entering the workforce is great for setting graduates apart from the competition during interview process. According to CNBC, 40 percent of college graduates will not use the degree they earned in their first post-graduate job. If students are eager to enter their profession of choice at a young age, obtaining difficult skills prior to entering the workforce is a step in the right direction.
Most importantly though, learning a skill or trade helps give post-graduates, particularly females, a backup career option. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that jobs in science fields are expected to increase by 10.8 percent between 2016 and 2026. Yet many young women are earning four-year degrees in other sectors, many of which are vague and leave the post-graduation career path open-ended.
In the 2016-2017 school year, the majority of degrees conferred to young women were in the following fields:
- Health professions (84%)
- Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities (62%)
- Business (60%)
- Multi/Interdisciplinary studies (58%)
Contrast that with males, who compromise 80 percent of students conferred with a degree in computer and information sciences and support services.
From this, I think it’s fair to conclude Harris’ fight was correctly directed towards collegiate women. However, would she be offering this same advice to a student studying a subject like “gender studies” or “women’s studies”? Of course not. But those are the students that most need this advice.
Data confirms that the number of undergraduates receiving a degree in “Cultural and Gender studies” is growing, yet people in the workforce who earned this degree are declining.
If the premise of giving students the advice to “learn to code” is to encourage them to develop skills that will increase their competitive edge and widen their horizons, then wouldn’t this advice be best suited for those earning a degree in a field that has no established career field to enter?
The answer is yes. But these facts are not conveyed by politicians like Harris, especially when they combat the narrative that increasingly studying “gender relations” does not help the economic security of college graduates.