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Females and Computer Education

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Toby Farley

I taught two sessions of Scratch to 6-8 graders this past week. Boith classes had about twenty students in them. Of all those students a grand total of one was a female. What has happened? When I was in computer science in the 80's, It seemed to that  the mix was about sixty/forty. Some of the most brilliant technology people I have worked with over the last twenty some odd years have been women. I know this is not a problem we will solve here but this problem is depriving the field of technology with a much needed perspective.

Vannevar Yu

Based on personal observation, I think that 7 years old :-) is more of the transition point where you can either introduce technology as a creative and interesting endeavor, or something you go to a big box retail store and purchase/window-shop every Sunday.  Create or Buy?  Brain or Bucks?

As more cool/uncool marketing is pushed down to younger and younger girls to sell dolls, clothers and accessories, etc. (I mean, where was the store "Justice" 15 years ago?) the new "normal" is to be less curious and succumb to peer pressure (or whatever is on TV/Cable/Internet).  I will not be surprised if a new study comes out showing the proportion of 6-9 yo girls playing with Legos dropped from 15-20 years ago versus today.

As everyone on this board attests, Scratch is wonderful because it can capture the imaginations of the younger set and is gender neutral -- you can work on whatever you can imagine!

Another positive development I see is the relatively recent offering of Leg Wedo kits

which unlike the Lego Mindstorms product line, comes in very bright colors and is appealing to the younger set regardless of gender.    Nice that it was developed by the MIT crew, and works with Scratch!  :-)

The kids will take to these if the adults let them, offer it to them, make it available.


Link to AAUW advocay group paper "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics"


Girls need more role models, hopefully younger than Grace Hopper (a hero for sure) - link to an old (2007) interview with one of the women who help make Scratch available in the Open Source / Linux community (among other pursuits)


Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps 

Niko Vrdoljak

I think that at age of 12 years students already have build their opinion about CS. Girls think that CS is for boys, any boys thinks that it is for geeks.

Teachers have to find better ways to motivate girls for CS. One good aproach is story-oriented teaching described by Caitlin Kelleher, creator of StoryTelling Alice. You can read some of her papers on .

You can find also many other sources that describes problem of women in IT:,_girls_and_information_technology

Angel Rivera

Very few females choose CS classes voluntarely, and like you mentioned it was not always this way. People always say we need more "female-oriented" or "female-friendly" examples in our CS1 courses, but I hardly ever see concrete examples.

I once read (and the reference escapes me right now) that giving a context in which CS can help solve/address/increase awareness of social and environmental causes may entice more females into the technology field. I think one of the examples given was , among others.