It’s no secret that people today live in a technology-driven world. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is where it’s at in the job market and preparing for its growing demand is key.

According to most tech experts, in just a few years, more than half of the available jobs will be found in the STEM industry, and a large chunk of the rest will require employees to have some type of STEM knowledge. That is why it is essential that young girls be exposed to STEM at an early age, so that they gain an interest in the accelerating field and possibly pursue a tech career.

It’s all about leveling the playing field and beginning with programming. Many girls often feel intimidated by STEM subjects, knowing that the boys seem to have an upper hand on the courses because of their expected early exposure to computer science by coding.

It’s an ugly stereotype that seems to persist; boys are naturally better at tech stuff. Girls become afraid to pursue the field and many stop being interested when they get a B or less on a test because they believe it means they aren’t cut out for the field. Building a female student’s confidence is one way to tackle the issue.

Middle school teacher Angie Schiavoni believes that young girls need to grow up coding and view it as a cool and exciting skill. Getting them psyched about computer science at the high school age is too late, she says. Kids are like sponges, and the earlier they can learn about a subject, the better, Schiavoni has found. Creating a website and using HTML is one of her approaches that she has labeled Code Ed.

The successful program teaches underserved middle schoolers how to connect to the tech world. By building their own websites, these young female students become excited learning how to add images with anchored text, using links or choosing YouTube videos to place on their sites. Even if their websites are all about Justin Bieber, a fan favorite, the pupils are absorbing valuable lessons in programming.

Code Ed isn’t the only program out there aimed at young girls and teens to spark STEM interest. Microsoft, for instance, has a popular national course called Digigirlz that is available for high school level students. The program offers workshops in coding fundamentals and creating websites.