Girls and Technology
Math Forum's Conference Within a Conference
at the NCTM National Conference
April 24, 1999
Cynthia Lanius

Research now confirms what teachers have been observing since we started using computers in the mathematics classroom. In general, girls just aren't as interested in technology as boys are.

The American Association of American Women's (AAUW) recent study, Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children documents a diminishing gender gap in achievement in mathematics and science, with one exception -- technology. The study concludes, "While girls have narrowed the gender gaps in math and science, technology has become the new 'boys' club.'"

Only 17% of the high school students who took the Advanced Placement Computer Science test in 1997 were females - the lowest percentage of all tests given. AB Calculus is up to 47%, Chemistry is 42%, Biology is 56%, and Physics, although still dismal, is over 20%. Complete data was published by the College Board.

The AAUW study also concludes

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 ,

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

Take a look at computing magazines and notice the gender bias. Girls aren't going to find role models there. The web can provide these much-needed resouces.

What's the Big Deal?

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. The problem's repercussions are staggering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists computer scientists, computer engineers, and systems analysts as the top three occupations with the fastest employment growth, 1996-2006. We must find ways to include girls in computing, without excluding boys at the same time. Read Getting Girls Interested in Computer Science.

      And to give you something to think about, USA Computing Olympiad Team- What's wrong with this picture?

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These pages were developed through GirlTECH, a teacher training program sponsored by the Center for Research on Parallel Computation (CRPC), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center.

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