Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gender Equity in Technology

Gender equity in technology is often a hot-button topic in schools. One only has to walk into a college-level computer class to see we still have work to do as educators to encourage more females to join the field. Do we offer equal opportunities to female students as we do male students when it comes to technology? Do we encourage our female students to take high-school classes in computer engineering? Why are there more males than females in this field? According to Picciano (2011), “the various reasons for attitudinal differences may relate to larger societal factors including parental influence, subject stereotyping, peer influence, and access to computers” (p.42).


As a technology coach, I often strive to encourage all children to take an interest in technology. This past November, the three elementary schools I work in as a technology coach have participated in Hour of Code (Code.org, 2016). The Hour of Code was created in 2013 through the website Code.org (2016). Over the past three years, Code.org has been dedicated to “increasing participation by women” in computer sciences (Code.org, 2016). According to the Code.org website, 34% of the population in high school computer engineering classrooms are girls (Code.org, 2016). As a result, this non-profit organization plans and advertises the Hour of Code event yearly to encourage all students, grades kindergarten through twelfth grade to become interested in coding. Their website features many professional athletes, business people, and popular actors. They make a point to feature many women in their ads. The modules the students work through during this week offer a variety of themes which are traditionally enjoyed by girls (Frozen) along with themes typically loved by all children (Minecraft).  


As a tech coach, one goal I have is to make sure female students have positive role models in computer engineering. In one of my schools, we paired up the kindergarten through fifth grade students with high-school students from the computer engineering academy. I was happy to see many of the female engineering students came to the event and served as mentors to the younger students showing a diverse population who enjoy programming including their female teacher. Sanders and Stone (1986) suggest it is important to “establish positive role models in the school”. Throughout the week, the students also used the website, Made with Code (www.madewithcode.org, 2016), which is a site created by Google geared specifically for girls. The site has many coding opportunities including dress design, coding with music, and many other areas that appeal to both girls and boys. The graphic below shows some of the numbers in their research to support their vision statement to reach more female students.

I am hopeful to see a more products and websites released over the next several years which will appeal to a variety of students, both male and female, so all of our students will be encouraged to pursue any field of study which is of interest to them.

Image retrieved from www.madewithcode.com/about/ 


Video retrieved from www.madewithcode.com

More Resources:

References:

Code.org (2016). About us. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from https://hourofcode.com/us


Google (2016). Retrieved February 9, 2016, from https://www.madewithcode.com/about/


Picciano, A.G. (2011). Educational Leadership and Planning for Technology (5th ed.) Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson.


Sanders, J.S., and Stone, A., (1986). The neuter computer. New York: Schuman.