Computer programming is largely pursued by men, while women are often on the sidelines. Why is that? How do you reverse the trend so that your daughter can unlock the incredible benefits of having an understanding how to program?
There are many factors that contribute to boys coding more than girls. Some biological, like differences in how their brains are preconditioned. Some environmental, like the lock-in effects of 90% of programmers currently being male. But both of these can be overcome and even used as an advantage in getting girls interested in programming.
Most girls are naturally more creative while boys are more analytic. This is a generalization, so of course it doesn’t hold for everyone – there are many exceptions. Furthermore, it can be changed with effort. Even a girl who is naturally more artistic than mathematical has the same capacity to learn advanced math.
How can you use this natural creativity to your advantage with respect to computer programming? By stressing that programming is a creative process! Allow her to make whatever she is interested in, whether it be an interactive story, art program, or a game designing outfits. A standardize introduction to programming that does not embrace these differences and each individual student’s interests will prove ineffective in holding a girl’s interest.
One of the primary environmental factors limiting female involvement in programming is the fact that it is currently predominantly boys. This is somewhat of a chick and the egg problem, but you can get around it by narrowing your scope of the market. Yes, university programming classes and Silicon Valley engineers are 90% men. Yes, the middle school and high school programming classes are predominantly made up of boys. But you have the ability to create your own learning environment.
Breakout Mentors works 1-on-1 with students, which means there isn’t a room full of nerdy boys to make the girls self-conscious. You can also rally together a group of girls to take a class together – even if the rest of the class is boys, they will still have each other, greatly increasing their fun and thus improving the likelihood they stick with it.
Starting young is perhaps even more important for girls than boys – if you wait too long the social stigmas will be more firmly rooted. If a girl already knows she enjoys programming, she is more likely to continue when reaching a high school course with a majority of boys. Contact us to learn how to get your daughter started now!
Photo: Mary Woodard