Computing for Girls
In the UK there is still a definite gender gap in the computing professions, with women making up less than 20% of the workforce. Our girls are technologically savvy and happy to use complex digital equipment including mobile phones, mp3 players and audio visual equipment, but that doesn’t translate into the confidence, or interest, to pursue a career in computing.
The gender gap in computing isn’t a worldwide problem. In Malaysia computing is seen as an ideal career for a woman and so Malay girls are encouraged to take computer courses throughout their schooling.
So How Can We Get More Girls Interested In Computers?There is still a perception of computers being the realm of boys, when it comes to games, and geeky boys, when it comes to the intricacies of programming. To try to bridge the gender gap we need to reclaim the computer and get girls interested through fun, educational projects that bring learning computer skills together with stuff that girls today want to talk about.
If you show a computer phobic (or just disinterested) girl that she can use the computer as a tool to make music, or videos, or design clothes it takes away the preconception that computers are for boys, and might help open their eyes to the opportunities that become computer literate can offer.
CC4G is a government funded UK wide scheme to get Girls more involved with computing. The Computer Club 4 Girls is a free after school (or lunchtime) club that develops girls’ IT skills through fun, educational projects. So far 1000 schools have registered with the CC4G scheme with overwhelmingly positive results.
Fun And Games For GirlsAcross nearly all ages computer games are seen as boys’ toys, but there are loads of games on the market designed to appeal to girls, or girls and boys equally. But why would you want to encourage girls to get into computer gaming when there has been so much media attention about computer games being the root of behavioural problems in boys?
It has been proven that computer games can improve problem solving and logic, both skills often considered to be ‘male’. Some games can also improve hand eye coordination and motor skills. The danger with computer gaming comes with violent and aggressive games, or when gaming takes over to the exclusion of other activities.
If you’re more interested in developing traditional (and transferable) computer skills in your child, a project to build a website will get her thinking about content, layout, and design skills as well as learning some basic web publishing skills. As we move ever closer to a totally wireless, online culture our kids will increasingly need to be web literate and understanding the internet and how it works will set your child (girl or boy) ahead of the game.
Girls OnlineGirls might be lagging behind their male peers in the skilled computing stakes but they’re neck and neck when it comes to internet use. Social Networking sites, online diaries and photo share websites have taken the world by storm in recent years, with teen girls among the biggest groups of users.
While there are internet safety issues around teens and pre-teens using the internet it can also be a huge educational resource, and one they’ll enjoy using. Rather than try to limit girls’ use of the internet inform them about the dangers and trust them, within preset guidelines, to make their own judgements.