Girls-only computer class hits refresh on IT’s geeky-male image – The Globe and Mail

April 7, 2011 at 9:45 am 3 comments

I loved this story about the professional women in Computing reaching out when they hear about the all-girls CS class.  Not clear that that always works.  I’ve heard that studies of outreach efforts find that sending a real scientist into the classroom often scares the kids away from science.  But in this example, it’s about changing stereotypes, about convincing the students that people who look like them work in this field.

When female engineers working at Cisco’s Toronto offices heard about Cardinal Leger’s all-girls program at the nearby Dufferin-Peel Catholic District school board, they invited the students for a visit.

“I think a lot of women don’t go into this field because they’re afraid of being the only girl,” said Hena Prasanna, a Cisco manager who met with the Cardinal Leger girls. “When we asked the girls who worked in the tech industry, they said chubby guys with glasses. That’s the impression they had and we wanted to change that.”

via Girls-only computer class hits refresh on IT’s geeky-male image – The Globe and Mail.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gail  |  April 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of kids being scared away when real scientists visit the classroom – any chance you could help dig up more info about that? (I wonder if girls would be scared off when they see males visitors but not female?)

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  April 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Jan Cuny told me that this was a result from some of the evaluations of National Lab Day activities. I’ll look into some references.

      • 3. Gail  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

        Awesome, thanks! This may actually be quite relevant to our WISE group right now, because some of the higher-ups believe in classroom visits as the best answer to increasing enrolment, while others prefer different kinds of events where girls are brought together for hands-on activities. I suppose both might suffer from this problem, but my inclination is the classroom visits might be more susceptible. The details should reveal more hopefully. 🙂


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