[Edu-sig] Gender and Programming (was: Microsoft's KPL)

Dethe Elza delza at livingcode.org
Sun Oct 9 05:54:10 CEST 2005

Just a couple of data points for the discussion.

My eight-year-old daughter loves math and computers and has asked me  
how she can make her own computer games.  I've tried showing her what  
goes into making games and she lost interest for now.  She also  
writes stories, draws beautifully, invents constantly (including how- 
to step-by-step sketches), and prefers to play roughhouse (and chess)  
with the boys than to hang out with the girls, who (at least last  
year) were more into psychological games and popularity contests than  
actual play.

I also recently worked with a practicum student from Chile who was  
suprised to find her IT classes mainly full of boys here in  
Vancouver, apparently in Chile mostly girls study computer science  
and IT.

On the rare occasion that I go to parties, men are more likely to be  
talking about computers than women, even if the women are  
programmers.  Boys and their toys, I guess.  I know a lot of great  
women programmers and women who like to *use* computers, but not very  
many women who are into computers for the sake of computers or who  
treat them as attractive gadgets.

When I switched from the Creative Writing department to the Computer  
Science department, I found there was far *more* freedom of  
expression and creativity allowed, but I don't think that's widely  
known, and it may not be common in other schools.  The women in my CS  
classes (not universally, but mostly) treated the classes as classes,  
and only did what was required to get through the class.  Some of the  
men were the same, but a substantial proportion programmed because  
they loved computers and loved to make them do things.  Computer  
programming was the closest thing they'd found to magic.

Overall, I think there are a lot of reasons why boys choose CS more  
than girls, but I think they are culturally dependent, not universal,  
and I think some of it is just that both boys and girls have a poor  
understanding of what computer programming is (or can be) all about.


The laws of nature were not repealed on September 11. --Kathleen Tierney

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: smime.p7s
Type: application/pkcs7-signature
Size: 2488 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/attachments/20051008/0feceb1f/smime.bin

More information about the Edu-sig mailing list