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Turning girls on to Technology: the Role of Professional Societies

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Cornelia Boldyreff

Cornelia Boldyreff, Professor of Software Engineering, Department of Computing and Informatics, University of Lincoln (and member of BCSWomen committee)

My Thoughts

Some useful information on the professional organisation angle for getting women interested in games (and computing in general) – and girls in school too.

Notes

One good way to get people interested, is to get them to join professional organisations.

ICT is going to be compulsory in the future, despite the fact it isn’t required for any kind of IT based course/job in the future. It is teaching keyboard skills and simple computer applications.

The ICT course description is boring, boring boring! “Computer Programmer” is the job description. Where’s the fun things!

Even a girl-only school and the ICT people don’t want to go into the jobs, since they don’t see it as professional area or a way to get a good professional job.

Societies for girls and boys include Computer Clubs for Girls as the main one, as well as Brownies and Scouts. Computer Brownie badge has improved, and room for improvement. BCS has worked with the Scouts – however ignores the girl guides. Woodcraft – no personal knowledge, but an alternative to the more military scouts – and has technology activities so probably uses computers.

Lincoln – one women graduate that year when she joined. She was also the only women in her department. She was back to stage one compared to her old location! She started a WSET group at Lincoln – now graduated 12 women in the final year course in 3 years. The sad point is games computing the biggest course, but no women (a comment raised was also “There are not any men either” on the course :) ).

Also involves BCS Lovelace Colloquium and Hopper. Women are attracted to a profession where they can feel they belong.

A big problem is sustaining the program – the money ran out for the 3rd newsletter, but got money form another source for now.

WSET has a good but small payoff. There are various ways to get funding.

Other organisations include Girl Geeks (just a professional meeting organisation), Women In Games International (which she’s not a member of – she’s not produced a game, is an academic :) ), IGDA’s Women in Games SIG. There is outreach from WIGI and IGDA in America mainly.

Take home messages; Outreach, go into the real and virtual communities, go into schools, use the medium of games and work bottom-up as well as top-down.

Questions:Is there a group in BCS for games?
No but any professional member can set up a group for it (women group is only 7 years old).

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