Ladies Learning Code seeks to close gender tech gap: How the teacher matters

December 19, 2011 at 8:47 am 3 comments

I’m intrigued with why the Ladies Learning Code workshops are successful (in terms of number and diversity of attendees).  There are other sources for the same information, and there are even better educational opportunities.  Is it the fact that these are successful women teaching other women about technology?  Who the teacher is matters.

We find similar outcomes from our GaComputes weekend workshops led by Georgia Tech undergraduates.  If a female leads the workshop, the boys in the workshop (more than the girls) tend to improve their attitudes about the statement “Girls can do computing,”  likely because they have evidence that there are females who rock at programming.  How the leaders teach is important apart from gender of the teacher. We found that the female leaders sometimes had girls in a workshop exhibiting worse attitudes about computing, e.g., the girls afterward felt less confident about using computing.  From our external evaluator’s observations, we found the female leaders were more likely to make hesitant statements about programming like, “I know this is really hard, but it will be worth it.”  The male leaders tended to be more gung-ho, “This is gonna be great!”  Attitude also matters.

I found that TheStar.com link below doesn’t always work — here’s another good article on Ladies Learning Code, if the link below fails.

These women are working to close the technology gender gap. Studies have documented the pervasive divide in high-tech, science, engineering and math sectors. Statistics Canada says women account for just over 20 per cent of the workforce, with little change over two decades.

“They’re interested in honing their skill set, learning some technical skills, learning how to communicate with developers and broaden their horizons,” says Heather Payne, 24, founder of Ladies Learning Code, which provides computer programming for beginners.

Four months after Payne founded the group — with a tweet — these women (and a few men) are learning Ruby, the programming language on which Twitter is built.

The first hands-on workshop in August taught JavaScript; an HTML class followed in September. The Ruby session sold out in nine minutes, proving there’s a market for a femalecentric learning environment.

via Ladies Learning Code seeks to close gender tech gap – thestar.com.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robert Cooper  |  December 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I would say it starts with having enough respect for the students to not call them ‘girls’ in the name.

    Reply
    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  December 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      Guess I should have been explicit. Our weekend workshops are mostly for Girl Scouts. Most Girl Scouts are girls. Sorry for the confusion.

      Reply
  • […] be an effective approach.  In fact, in my case it may prove counterproductive.  Mark Guzdial had an interesting post recently where he discusses results that indicate having female faculty speak in hesitant terms about […]

    Reply

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