Monday, April 5, 2010

DigiGirlz - Blowing Away the Girl/Programmer Myths


I spent last Friday volunteering with DigiGirlz. This awesome event, sponsored by Microsoft, exposes High School age girls to technology. In one day, they learn programming, database querying, robotics, and video game programming. In between classes, they meet IT professionals who explain what life is like when you choose a career in technology. All of the girls had a great time and learned a lot.

Here are some myths that DigiGirlz helps debunk:

Myth #1: Girls don't like programming, math, or science.

False. While teaching some of these classes, I never saw a student waver in her interest. I never caught one texting on her cell phone. I never saw one not complete an assignment. When the programming class was over, many of them were disappointed that it ended. Many asked how they could program at home on their own time. Most of them thirsted for more.

Myth #2: Girls aren't good at programming.

Totally false. During a one hour SmallBasic class, I saw many students immediately understand the language constructs. Some girls only needed about 10 minutes of direction and they were free styling. By the end of the class, the girls were shocking me with the images and vectors they were programmatically drawing. They fluently understood the math, and could quickly grasp the creation of geometric shapes. I've seen adult programmers who struggled with concepts that the girls immediately learned.

Myth #3: Girls who do like technology and programming are basically boys (or aren't very cute.)

Lynn Langitt (SoCalDevGal) and Linda Routson (Microsoft Account Manager Extraordinaire) did a great job finding female instructors for these courses. They were all beautiful women who were professional, intelligent, and feminine. One was a programmer for a fashion company. These examples taught the girls that you can be good at traditional male professions without surrendering what you like about being a girl.

I think any girl would enjoy this event. Find more information here:

DigiGirlz

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