I’ve just read Everyday Sexism [Amazon affiliate link] by Laura Bates. Before I go any further, I suppose I ought to explain why. What does this subject matter have to do with teaching computing and ICT?
Well, I don't think there can be any doubt about the fact that a lot of girls are put off going into computing, whether as a course in school or in their career choices. So I wondered how far the kinds of issues girls face in school, especially in subjects like computing which are seen by too many people as a male preserve, are part of a wider picture.
In many respects this book is pretty depressing. It's bad enough that grown women have to put up with unwanted attention, but children?!
I think girls and women would find the book useful, to help them realise that lots of others experience the same kind of thing. I think boys and men should read it too, to find out how it must feel to be on the receiving end of sexist comments.
One of the things that struck me was the complaint that male teachers say things like, "Come on, you don't want to be beaten by a girl do you?". I can see why girls would feel belittled by that sort of remark, even if it was intended as a lighthearted means of galvanising the boys into making a greater effort.
I remember doing the opposite: saying to the boys in my Computing class that I'd like them to be quiet and let the girls answer, as I'd rather listen to a well-thought out response than some half-baked comment shouted across the room. Was that unacceptable too, do you think?
Most of the book might be described as 'relentless': wave after wave of intrusive and even threatening comments. For me, the best chapter is the last one, because it portrays women as strong and powerful rather than as almost powerless victims.
In this context you might like to read my article, Where are the girls in ICT and Computing?
You would hardly believe the ridiculous things that 'genius' men have said about women's capabilities. I can't help thinking that if Ada Lovelace had been a man we'd have had computers at least one generation before we did. Anyway, here are my views on a book that deals with the issue.
The forthcoming issue of the Digital Education ezine features 9 interesting articles. This article gives you the lowdown on three of the topics covered, and how to sign up to it.
Are girls and women biologically predetermined to not be natural programmers? No, I don't think so either. This article contains some interesting points based on recent discussions, and links to (hopefully) useful articles.
In 1994 I set out with my wife to discover the best place to buy a computer system -- and discovered a lot of sexism along the way.
"As soon as I found out about how to write code, I was hooked. I realised that this was what I should have been doing all along." Anna Shipman, who works for the Government Digital Service, talks about her love of coding.
Young people love to use technology. In school, we jump at the opportunity to use the iPads for research, or to use laptops for typing up essays or creating PowerPoints in class. In my school, when an iPad trolley is dragged into the classroom at the start of a lesson, there is always a race between the students to the front of the classroom, desperate not to have to share it with others, or be stuck with a tablet with a 10% battery life remaining.
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