Monday, April 6, 2009

Tech Girls

Eileen Collins. Kathryn Clark. Charlotte Barnum. Ada Lovelace. Susan Kare.

Recognize any of these names? Lots of folks probably don’t! Who are they? Women who have made significant contributions to the fields of math, science and technology!

Increasingly, there has been some staggering statistics that show fewer and fewer girls wanting to pursue careers in technology. This statistic must change. And, in your classrooms – you have the power to make this change significant.

Check out a few eye-opening statistics –

· Many more boys than girls take Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science exams. According to the College Board in 2006, 2,594 girls and 12,068 boys took the AP Computer Science A exam, and 517 girls and 4,422 boys took the more advanced AP Computer Science AB exam.

· Although teenage girls are now using computers and the Internet at rates similar to their male peers, they are five times less likely to consider a technology-related career or plan on taking post-secondary technology classes” according to Kathleen Melymuka, author of an online article from ComputerWorld.

· Studies show that women view computers as a tool and with much more societal context than men do; they are much more concerned with effect of technology on other disciplines, and how it can be used to improve society. On the other hand, men have a much narrower focus of interest; and do not require a "larger goal" in connection to their interests

· According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women filled only 26.7 percent of computer and mathematical positions in 2006

· Women’s representation in computer and information sciences workforce hovers at about 30%.

(All statistics and supporting information courtesy of Wikipedia, ComputerWorld and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Without going into a lot of depth on the how’s and why’s the lack of interest in technology by girls has happened… we can just begin an initiative to close the gap, in general.

How do we close a specific gender gap? The solution, by default, will close ALL gaps, whether gender, race, economic or geographical. Provide equal access to technology in all schools.

How do we accomplish that? With an open mind, determination, creativity, grant-writing and a lot of hard work.

Do you feel there is, indeed, a gender gap between girls and boys using technology in our classrooms? It is truly something to think about. Check out this teachertube video that shows how girls feel about technology!

The next time you assign a classroom project involving technology – make sure that the boys and girls in your class equally find some part of the project that inspires them. The gap will begin to narrow immediately.

Need an idea? Check out for a glimpse at a programming application that hopes to encourage usage by under-represented populations. Contact our office to schedule a workshop.


The women mentioned at the start of the blog post…

Eileen Collins - The first woman pilot of a Space Shuttle

Kathryn Clark - NASA’s Chief Scientist for the International Space Station Program

Charlotte Barnum - Became the first of three women to receive Ph.D.'s in mathematics from Yale before 1900

Ada Lovelace - Seen/recognized by many as the "first programmer"

Susan Kare - Created many of the interface elements for the Macintosh (Apple) in the 1980s

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