Cynthia Lanius

 

GirlTECH: Girls and Technology

 

Presented at:

Integrated/Coordinated
Science Conference
   
GirlTECH Workshop
Ventura, CA Houston, TX
June 26, 1999  July 13, 1999


How well do you know how engaged girls are in science and mathematics education in the U.S.? Take the test below to find out.

Pre-Test   Assessing Where We Are


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Directions:  Select your best answer below. To change your answers, you will need to hit "Re-load". Data supplied by College Board from the 1997 AP Exam. (In general, the highest level of science and mathematics taught on a high school campus.)
1. What percentage of students who took the AP AB Calculus test were girls?

27%
37%
47%
57%

2. What percentage of students taking AP Biology were girls?

36%
46%
56%
66%

3. What percentage of students taking AP Chemistry were girls?

52%
42%
32%
22%

4. What percentage of students taking AP Physics were girls?

44%
34%
24%
14%

5. What percentage of students taking AP Computer Science were girls?

  7%
17%
27%
37%

10-year Differences   How Far Have We Come?
Exam 1987 1997 Points Change
Calculus 41 47 +6
Chemistry3142+11
Biology5156+5
Physics2434+10
Computer Science1617+1

Technology   The New "Boy's Club"

The American Association of American Women Educational Foundation's recent study, Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children documents a diminshing gender gap in achievement in mathematics and science, with one exception -- technology. The AAUW study also concludes:
Understanding the Issue
There are two separate issues to consider: It is clear that computer literacy is necessary to promote an interest in computer science, but it is not enough. It also seems clear that we may be doing a better job of getting girls interested in computers but not in computer science. Read two essays on the subject.

University Perspective   View from the Top
Degrees awarded in computer science decreased among both men and women from 1985 to 1995, and women went from earning 36% of those degrees in 1985 to only 28% in 1995. A full report on these statistics was published by the National Science Foundation.

MIT commissioned an interesting study to determine why the percentage of their students choosing electrical engineering or computer science (EECS) (19% women) is lower than MIT engineering as a whole (29% women). The most telling result of the two student surveys was that women, much more so than men, felt less prepared to major in EECS than their peers. Read the MIT committee's recommendations for reducing the imbalance.

Staggering Repercussions   For 21st Century Women
We need women in the highest levels of the computing industry. Computer science and computer engineering are the routes to the top, and we must find ways to encourage young women to pursue those routes. This technology gap threatens to disadvantage girls as they confront 21st-century demands and become the newest impediment to women's achieving equity in the workplace. The problem's repercussions are staggering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists as the top three occupations with the fastest employment growth, 1996-2006.
What Can We Do?

Assess where you are.

AAUW's Tech Check, a guide to help schools assess the technology opportunities they offer female students, is available from AAUW's HELPLINE, 800/326-AAUW , helpline@aauw.org

Intervene with Effective Strategies

Through GirlTECH, a teacher training program sponsored by the Center for Research on Parallel Computation headquartered at Rice University, we have developed suggestions on getting girls interested in computers.

Use Web Resources

GirlTECH   What We Do
Increase Teachers' Awareness of Underrepresentation
Increase Teachers' Skills with Technology (Especially Web-based)

URL http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/pres/gtech.html