One of my favorite children's books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, is a great adventure about the perils of giving a mouse a cookie. I couldn't help thinking about this story as I read the following excerpt from a recent article published on GeekWire.
... research from the University of Washington shows that by first grade, children are already embracing the stereotype that boys are better than girls at robotics and programming.
... And girls with the strongest negative stereotypes about their genders’ tech abilities also reported the least interest and personal skill in programming and robotics.
... But there is some good news. If you give a girl a robot and some simple tools for programming it, her feelings about computer sciences will be more positive.
It's astonishing that in a field with literally zero gender limitations, the male dominant stereotype has somehow prevailed. How did this happen?
Actually, who cares how it happened? More importantly, what can we do to stop it? There's simply no reason at all to believe boys are more naturally inclined towards programming than girls. Tech is one of the few fields where women can truly work on level with men, earning equal pay and career advancement.
More importantly, the world is in sore need of women who code. We need girl coders because we need balance. Do we really want to live in a world that men alone have programmed for us? I cringe. We need girls who code because girls make up half the world population.
Hey girls, let's not leave it up to men alone to program the future for us. Let's be involved so balance can prevail - so our voices can be heard and our aspirations realized alongside men.
I get it. Watching guys program doesn't always look very enticing. I've looked around Roblox and Minecraft and I don't get overly excited to code things that blow up, crash together, shoot dead, or annihilate populations of innocent sheep.
I get it. It's discouraging when you venture your toe into cold code waters to begin creating something small yet meaningful to you, only to be told by a boy that it's "stupid".
I get it. It's discouraging and it can feel humiliating, irritating and simply not worth the aggravation, all at the same time. I don't know why boys tend to tease but I do know it's really important to ignore them because ... do you really want to live in a future where boys are the ones who programmed YOUR realm? Yikes!
Girls, we need to bring balance to the force.
Programming is like the ultimate superpower of the universe. It's the coolest feeling evvverrr to code something useful, fun, or to fix something that's broken. Don't let boys intimidate you.
I like cute stuff, pretty stuff, cool stuff, but most of all I really like making the world around me a better place to exist, not just for me but for everyone. Coding is the superpower behind it all and we can't just leave it all to the boys.
So, this summer I'm volunteering some of my time to teach a series of Girls Only programming courses. I don't have all the details yet and I'm not an expert by any means but I'm confident that when it comes to coding, whatever the boys can do, we can do too - and it won't bother me a bit if we do it just a little bit better while we're at it.
Here's some fun I've been having with this little Ozobot my father bought me. This is what happens when you give a girl a robot. For the record, he's okay with the fact that my little bot doesn't annihilate fields of sheep. 😉