[Edu-sig] Gender and Programming (was: Microsoft's KPL)
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
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
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The laws of nature were not repealed on September 11.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
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