Where do all the geek girls go?

Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Jul 29, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

Jeffrey Elkner has taught computer science for 13 years and shares some of his experience with teaching girls on his blog post: Where do all the geek girls go? Over the summer he taught two week classes on "Creative Computer Exploration with Scratch" (4th-6th graders) and "Games Programming with Python and GASP" (7th-9th graders).

Jeffrey writes, "The number of 'geek girls' in the Scratch class (11 of 30) is much higher than in the Python class (4 of 30), suggesting that the geek girls drop out somewhere between 5th grade and 7th grade." He also notes that the young girls are every bit as geeky as their male counterparts and great programmers. For example, this program was created by a 4th grade girl who'd used Scratch for 3 days. Nice!

Jeffrey asks, "Why don't they continue building on their enjoyment with Scratch to go on to higher levels of computer programming?" Although he admits that he doesn't have all the answers, he thinks that Scratch might help open new opportunities for girls. He also notes that cultural expectations and sexism still play a part in turning girls off of programming. He'll be teaching the same topics in El Salvador this summer, so I'll be sure to check back on his blog to read more about his observations.

Thanks goes out to Jeffrey for sharing his experiences and to Mel Chua for sending me this link!

Comments

  • "Unlocking the Clubhouse"

    For anyone looking for answers to this question, the book "Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing" by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher is excellent reading. It covers exactly this age range, and the factors that discourage girls from computing through elementary, middle, and high school, and on into university.
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