This article examines an initiative that encourages girls to get actively involved in computer programming and outlines some of the activities developed to accomplish this goal.
Appropriate Subject Area(s):
Careers, entrepreneurship, business studies
Key Questions to Explore:
- Why are only about 35% of the jobs in this field taken by women?
- Should there have to be a special course just for girls?
Copies of the article for the students.
Introduction to lesson and task:
Employment opportunities abound in computer science and information technology. Despite these appealing openings, females account for only about 35% of those actively employed in these fields. This has been the case for years despite recent social initiatives to develop equality among the sexes. It has been (and still is) a challenge to involve females in careers in mathematics and science and computer science and information technologies appear to be following the same course. In an attempt to meet this challenge, various initiatives are being undertaken – one of which is a program called Hackergal. This lesson will use this initiative to have the students discuss this issue and the value of such programs as Hackergal.
Action (lesson plan and task):
- Begin the lesson by asking, through a show of hands, how many of the students are considering a career in computer science or information technology.
- Record the number of male and female responses to see what the ratio is.
- If there is a large discrepancy hold a discussion to have the students explain why they think this is the case.
- If there is a close balance, indicate to the students that, if this response is indicative of current social trends, there has been a major shift in female interest in these fields and discuss why the students think this has happened.
- With this as background, inform the students that the lesson is going to focus on a specific program as an example of initiatives that are being undertaken to get females more interested in these identified fields.
- Pair up the students – with a male and female in each pair if possible – and hand out a copy of the article to them.
- Allow them time to read it and then ask them to discuss the following four questions:
- What is your reaction to this program?
- Do you think programs like this are needed? Why or why not?
- Why do you think that historically females have not pursued these fields?
- Do you think it is the same situation today? Explain the reasons for your response.
- Allow the pairs to prepare their responses and then put each pair with another pair and have them exchange ideas.
- Once this has been done, again pair that foursome with another foursome and repeat the process.
Consolidation of Learning:
- Have the groups report their findings to the class as a whole and determine where the opinions lie.
- The students will be able to explain what is involved in the Hackergal program and offer considered opinions as to why the need for such programs exists or does not exist.
- Conclude the lesson by holding a plenary session during which the students will be allowed to offer differing or confirming opinions concerning the reasons programs such as these could be seen as just perpetuating the perception that females tend to avoid computer and science careers.