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Girls get EX.I.T.Ed by IT

Helena Pugsley, Software Group IT Service Manager, IBM Hursley Software Development Laboratories

My Thoughts

A lot of information about why girls are turned off by computers, and how IBM has a volunteer group working to help solve the problem, makes for an interesting and fast talk. I missed some of the information annoyingly :(

No pictures, sorry :(

Notes

“Ahhgg! going to repeat what has already been said” :) It’s a worldwide challenge to get girls into technology (not just games).

Research done to say girls are just as boys (or can be) – in places with better role models, girls perform a lot better then in those countries without that support.

Why are girls turned off?
– “It’s all geeky boys!” (poorly portrayed in media too: IT crowd, X-Files geeks)
– “ICT class is really boring”
– “I don’t want to be stuck in front of a computer all day” – girls like to collaborate and so on.

How many had a role model in technology?
– None: 66%, Male: 33%, Female: 3%
– It can depend on role models (her example is she wanted to be an accountant, since she was good at maths and her dad was)

Not much positive reinforcement in media (always wears glasses and so forth).
IBM has established Women in Technology in 1997 – 11 years ago. 118 global chapters. Key focus is 12-14, where they are excited by it a bit and haven’t hit the boy perception problem yet.
Chapter founded near IBM research labs in the UK – runs half day workshops for schools and university levels.

One area done is design frenzy – people from different schools, work together on a design problem. Dragons Den style conclusion to the work by some IBM people, who are harsh, but it’s enjoyable.
Robocode is a volunteer project (since most of IBM stuff isn’t visually interesting and isn’t game based). Robots can battle each other (made in Java, so that can be explained) and can play games at the end of it all.

Also has some consoles (IBM make most of the chips in them!), but in the end it is helping them learn the fun way. The %’s of girls interested in pursuing a career in technology, it gos from 25% to 85%.

It is volunteer run so the main message is – you can help!

Q’s:
Who pays for it?
It’s all run by volunteers! So the schools don’t pay for it. Try and keep budget out of it.

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