A few months ago, I mentioned the problems that schools and parents are facing in interesting girls in computers. The London Borough of Croydon has now published a fascinating document entitled Girls and Information Technology which reports the results of a survey commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission.
It discusses the observation that computers seem to be used more by boys and male teachers than by their female counterparts, and refers to a study carried by the MEP Primary Project which showed that twice as many boys as girls have access to a micro at home. Why should this be? Are girls intrinsically less interested in computers than boys are?
If parents consider it more important to provide home computers for sons rather than daughters what implication does this have for the future of women in an age of technology? In many secondary schools, computers have been linked with the mathematics department and too much emphasis has been placed on programming and numerical uses rather than data-processing and other social implications. Another problem is that traditional stereotyping seems to occur very early with boys being perceived to have more interest than girls in new technology. Girls may be keen to learn word-processing but seem to have little curiosity about other computer uses. Perhaps the problem lies in the content of the commercial software available. Girls are not nearly so interested as boys in arcade-type games and even educational software tends to be directed towards male interests. Luckily though, the programs I’ve looked at this month are of a particularly high standard and will appeal equally to boys and girls.