Great idea, but where is the T for Technology (STEM)

Great idea, but where is the T for Technology (STEM).

June 21, 2012. Tags: . Gender, ICT. Leave a comment.

Great idea, but where is the T for Technology (STEM)

The Parliamentary “Friends of Women in Science, Maths and Engineering” group has been launched by Senator The Hon Chris Evans. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.

Great! We need to shine a light on opportunities for women, celebrate successes, promote entry into these traditionally male areas … but… where is the T for technology? 

STEM is the traditional acronym used worldwide, and massess of research has already been conducted in STEM related fields. We have less than 20% female representation in most ICT positions, less than 5% in the more technical areas, yet the T was left out of this group. Why? [see earlier blog]

In the US it is all about STEM, and 2012 Generation STEM was just published showing that GIRLS LIKE STEM. This Girl Scout Research Institute report offers a ‘strength based perspective’ and found that overwhelmingly girls ARE interested in STEM, they want to use it to help people, however many of the students are also high achievers and have many career options available to them. They also found that percieved gender barriers are still high, and posit that many young women internalise these outdated subtle cultural stereotypes. We are not the USA, we do however have strong similarities with their culture, and our women in ICT experiences mimic theirs.

Lets get the T put into this group and empower, encourage and grow Women in STEM for “future productivity and global competitiveness”. Just as we are doing now through our Swinburne Women in ICT group as well as the Digital Divas Club.

June 21, 2012. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Is it just about image? Does computer engineering Barbie discourage girls? Really?

 I trawl through a lot of media, blogs and articles, like most of my colleagues, and also get some sent to me because of my known interest in gender and computing. I read this one just today, it was sent to me Monday by a friend. Does Computer Engineering Barbie Discourage Girls From Pursuing Math and Science? GOOD MAGAZINE | JUNE 14, 2012
http://pulse.me/s/agz6f

I have a Computer Engineering Barbie in my office at work (a gift from a colleague). I am not comfortable however giving her to my grand-daughter, and never bought a Barbie for my own daughters. I just never took to her over shapely proportions.

 However I ascribe to the belief that being a computer engineer and loving fashion, shoes, handbags, whatever… are not mutually exclusive, and that  there are many individual differences among  girls that one image portrayed by one doll can hardly be ascribed blame for a lack of interest in a whole career path.

I think we have to get past image – the lack of interest in this discipline, by girls and boys, is more embedded in how we approach teaching it  as well as how we apply it. Liz Dwyer comments in her post that the girls who won the Google engineering award were intellectually curious, tenacious and ambitious – not particularly gendered traits.

With an approach that promotes curiousity, creativity, persisitence and problem solving we may well do better in attracting more girls and a more diverse cohort of boys to our discipline.

June 20, 2012. Gender, ICT, Image. Leave a comment.