Adobe and Industry Players Join Forces to Reboot Representation

Adobe Girls Who Code participants in our Emeryville office.

We in the US technology industry face a paradox: While women are overall steadily advancing in the overall workforce — with higher university attendance, employment opportunities and pay than 20 years ago — their representation in computer science programs has notably declined. Women of color are even less well represented. Yet computer science is one of the highest paid and most in-demand professional fields.

There are many good theories about what is behind this disturbing shift, from the unappealing stereotype of “computer nerds” to lack of tailored curriculum and ongoing support in university programs. But it clearly starts with young people as they first get exposed to fields of study and decide where they fit. Not enough girls see themselves in technology, and we need to make a dramatic change to change the trajectory of our future workforce.

Adobe is thrilled to be a Founding Member of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, announced today by Melinda Gates in partnership with McKinsey & Company. While Adobe has done a lot to build the youth pipeline – see some highlights below — as one company, we can only reach so many youth. The same goes for our industry peers. But together, we can drive meaningful change. We’re excited by the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition’s ambitious goal of doubling the number of women of color (black, Latina and Native American) graduating with computing degrees by 2025. It’s measurable, actionable and powerful in its intention.

Building on our commitment

Adobe’s commitment to building the pipeline, a program we call our youth coding initiative, goes back to 2012 when we partnered with Girls Who Code. We have grown what started as a $50,000 annual commitment to $3.5 million in grants last year, directly engaging more than 70,000 youth (predominantly girls) globally. The U.S. youth we engaged last year were highly diverse – about two-thirds were black, Latino or Native American. And about three-quarters were on free or reduced-price lunch programs.

We are proud of our community giving track record and our long-term commitment to bringing a broader set of youth into computer science and technology. But this problem is far bigger than we can solve alone. Today’s announcement is exciting not only for the impact that it will have — and we hope it will be even more significant than anticipated. It’s also a breakthrough because we have never seen this many technology companies — some allies, some rivals — come together to solve an issue that affects all of us.

We’re heading in the right direction.