Help girls discover how cool a career in technology could be!

February 10th, 2011 in mozilla, PlanetGNOME, women

If you have some time this Saturday, take half an hour or so to help show girls how cool a career in technology can be. Dare 2B Digital is a conference for girls to learn more about careers involving computers.

What can you do?

As part of the conference, the girls will be making videos. (Mozilla is sponsoring the event and Lukas Blakk will be teaching the HTML5/Open Video workshop.) We need volunteers to help transcribe the videos and translate them real time to show them the power of the community and technology. The software being used is Universal Subtitles (which is a really cool tool).

Spend half an hour this Saturday and help show girls how cool our world is. You can sign up here.

Why help girls learn about computer science?

As many of you know, less than 2% of open source software developers are women. This frustrates me for two reasons.

  1. A bunch of women are missing out on some really awesome opportunities.
  2. The open source community could be twice as big! Imagine all we’d get done!

But it’s hard to recruit more women when the pool of women in computer science in general is small. I helped out at a technology event for girls once. They were sixth graders (about 12 years old). When we asked what they wanted to be, none of them picked any kind of technology field. Studies show that by sixth grade, girls have already decided not to pursue math and science careers.

This is our chance to show them how cool those fields can be. And that they aren’t alone, that there’s a whole community of interesting and motivated people they’d get to work with.

So sign up now. You can help in person if you are in Mountain View or you can help transcribe and translate if you are not. Bilingual people are much needed!

10 Responses to “Help girls discover how cool a career in technology could be!”

  1. david says:

    Why do girls need help discovering the coolness of technology? If they don’t figure it out for themselves they probably have little interest or ability in that area. Society has been trying to “help” women get into technology for over 30 years. What do you call it when you repeat the same action over and over and get same result?

    I worked in engineering for over 30 years. With some noteworthy exceptions women engineers required continuing help throughout their careers. They wanted to be managers while leaving the technical details to others. They talked continually about their kids or other family issues. When conversation turned toward technology they were not to be found.

    The women who did well had true interest. They didn’t need help either on the job or in deciding what career was right for them.

    Women are better respected, as are men, when they don’t require help. So please, have some respect for the men engineers. Don’t burden them with having to accommodate women’s needs.

    These comments apply to race as well. Why not just support anyone who has the desire and ability regardless of gender or ethnicity? The US doesn’t have time to continue playing politically correct games. Our engineers have got enough work to do to stay competitive with countries who couldn’t care less about promoting gender/ethnic needs.

    stormy Reply:
    February 10th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I’m not asking you to accommodate women. I’m asking you to help show girls what the open source community is like.

    If you don’t want them, by all means ignore them. But if you’d like them to join the field, then I think we need to show them what the community is like. Most of their parents and their teachers are not part of this community. They don’t even know careers like ours exist unless we expose them to it.

    Char Reply:
    February 11th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Hi, I would be happy to try to help transcribe remotely tomorrow. Can you send more information on logistics? I have used universal subtitles so I’m familiar with how that works.

    stormy Reply:
    February 12th, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Awesome!

    There is information on the wiki:
    https://wiki.mozilla.org/Dare_2_Be_Digital/

    stormy Reply:
    February 12th, 2011 at 3:58 am

    And the IRC channel is #womoz on irc.mozilla.org.

  2. Aki says:

    I’d have to say that i agree with David, there is allready alot out there for them to see what there is available. They should be able to find it as much as the others can. And i have tried a couple of times as well, but as David pointed out, they turn their faces showing no sign of interrest. And as i see it you are offending him by saying to ignore them.

    The open source community is not hiding.

    stormy Reply:
    February 11th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    For some reason women are not entering the OSS community. I think that’s bad for us and for them, so I want to fix it.

    If you do not want to help fix the problem, or you do not think there is a problem, that is fine. I’m ok with that. I am not mad, not offended, not trying to be rude. I am just saying ok.

  3. Brad says:

    You mentioned that by sixth grade, girls already have decided not to pursue math or science careers, which I think speaks volumes about the state of U.S. competitiveness in math and science fields in general. But, getting back to those sixth graders, the problem isn’t so much one of exposure as it is the type of exposure. I don’t mean to disparage our nation’s educators, but the way that math and science are taught at all levels in the educational system is fundamentally flawed. These sixth-grade girls–and a good number of boys, I would imagine–are ruling out math and science careers because they’ve already identified themselves as not being “math people” or “numbers people.” Why? Probably because they’ve struggled with math and found they did better in other subjects than in math. So, they assume the problem is with them and not in how the subject is being taught. The reality, though, is that math is taught in such a way that it registers with only a subset of the population. Those who do successfully learn this way go on to have math-related careers and end up teaching the subject the way they learned it, inadvertantly repeating the same educational “mistakes” of the past.

    The other problem is that, let’s be honest, learning math can be boring. Rarely will you find someone get excited or interestd in math after reading a math textbook. Yet, once they move past kindegarten, kids’ early exposure to math is exactly that: dry textbooks and esoteric formulas on whiteboards.

    Contrast this with how kids become interested in the other, popular career choices. Those sixth-grade girls don’t want to be doctors because they love the study of biology. Rather, they want to be doctors because, before they ever cracked open a textbook, they’ve been to a hospital or doctor’s office and probably liked the doctors and nurses there. It’s the empircal exposure and ensuing personal interaction that interested them–not the academic exposure. For those who really end up pursuing careers as doctors, the academic study is just a means to an end. Ask any pre-med student what they think about chemistry. For most, it’s just something they have to forge through.

    I was a liberal arts major, and while I think there is value in that type of study, it’s not setting graduates up with the practical knowledge and skills required in this global economy. We don’t need more sociologists and anthropologists. And we really don’t need more physicians and litigators. Instead, we need more engineers, more programmers, more chemists, more “doctors” focused on biochemistry, and more lawyers focused on patent and copyright law.

    The U.S. is doing something right because we still are seen as leaders in innovation. However, wihle good ideas may be born here, companies more and more are turning to the talent pools elsewhere for the execution on those ideas.

  4. When I programmed mainframes in the seventies and eighties, there used to be one girl for every five to ten boys. Nowadays the count (at Mozilla) is lower by a full order of magnitude. Sexist barriers are felt to exist, but (from the survey whose results Delphine Lebédel of WoMoz showed at FOSDEM) competence is the *least* often mentioned one of them.

    Yes, there is a problem. But is the problem with fewer girls pursuing careers in “math-like” subjects, or with “us boys” mocking any girl who feels excited by math, wants to program computers, and think that taking an active part in open-source software is cool? I think that, alas, there is both. And yet when you turn your eyes off the boobs and look at the brains, the few girls who break past the clichés and study math, learn and teach programming, or become open-source developers are actually worth respect, even admiration for what they achieve, instead of all that stupid and undeserved harassment.

  5. frappa canu says:

    wow david, your answer sucks and really makes me sad..
    i improved my knowledge thanks nice men and women i worked with, and i hope that i will be able to offer help to anybody will need it..
    i really enjoy being a frontend engineer and i chosed this field very soon, probably because my father was programmer and i grew up with computers. i needed a lot of help til now, but nobody was ever tired or annoyed to explain me things and i have been often complimented for my effort. i now realize, how lucky i am.
    if i found anybody with your kind of attitude on my way, i doubt my motivation would be this big.
    :(