Twenty Years of Girls into Computing Days: Has It Been Worth the Effort?

Annemieke Craig, Catherine Lang, Julie Fisher
InSITE 2008  •  Volume 8  •  2008
The first documented day-long program to encourage girls to consider computing as a career was held in 1987 in the U.K. Over the last 20 years these one-day events, labeled Girls into Computing days, have been conducted by academics and professionals to foster female-student interest in information technology (IT) degrees and careers. This paper charts the growth and popularity of these types of events internationally and questions their effectiveness. The format of Girls in Computing days varies from giving students hands-on experiences with technology to exposure to women in the industry through seminars and presentations. They are mostly aimed at girls in the 12-16 year old age bracket. The underlying assumption of these events is that female students are not choosing IT degrees and careers because of a limited awareness of what an IT degree and career involves. The absence of any longitudinal evaluation on the success of Girls into Computing events is a glaring oversight. Success of previous events conducted in the UK, USA, and Australia has been evaluated mainly through pre-event and post-event attitudinal type surveying of students. These have all been positive, but any long-term attitudinal change has not been measured and some researchers suggest that the effects of Girls in Computing days have been negligible, a suggestion supported by a continued decline in female IT higher education enrolment statistics in all these countries.
Gender, female, computing, under-representation, recruitment
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