Thursday, December 29, 2005

more on girl geeks

As written about in the Washington Post (and a few other places) today, there are tons of women using the internet, especially those under 30 years old. This is awesome- when I was in college, I used to volunteer on Girl's Day at the Computer Clubhouse and spent much time (too much time, really) talking to the administrators and other volunteers about how to get more girls interested in Computer Science and other geeky stuff. At the time, I was one of 6 CS majors at my (single sex) college. I'd even taken one class- Physics- at MIT where I was the only girl in the entire class. So I thought a lot about why that was, and why the gender disparity was so large. We talked mostly about videogames, because in the late 80s and early 90s, most people who got into programming entered it through videogames. I think this is going to change, and more people are going to get into programming, and interested in Computer Science, though internety and WWWebby stuff. And if there are more girls using the internet, there might be more girls in CS in a few years. One of the big problems with videogames as a programming portal is that, well, most girls don't really like most videogames. The only two I've ever liked playing are Tetris and Sim City, and I think my experience is not that different from a lot other girl geeks. I heard Sherry Turkle (at MIT) speak a few times on women's programming styles (over simplifying, women tend towards a bricolage approach). It will be interesting to see if women approach CS through internet programming- PHP and so forth, since that approach, in my experience, lends itself much more to a bricolage style than learning C to hack up Doom does.

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