We’ve made a new CoderDojo Girls guide and would love your feedback on it before we publish it.
You can see the draft guide here>>.
Please do let us know if you think there should be any changes or additions to this guide.
Content Lead, CoderDojo Foundation
We run a Dojo for our primary school (kids from 4 to ~ 12 and last year we had up to 100 at some sessions, probably 50:50 boys to girls which is good but the girls tended to fall off faster than the boys as the year went on - not so good, we need to do something much better and more interesting )… I like The CoderDojo Girls Guide, my own daughter is now 8 and 1 year into our Dojo and she does get bored regularly and it’s difficult to find subjects / projects to more interest the girls , we’ve also discussed this and aim to change how we conduct our Dojo… away from a kind of “lecture” type system to a more child led, project based, mentor enabled system with a lot of wider science modules… And I like the idea of encouraging more female mentors, not so pushed about female only groups but will definitely organise a vote from the kids in the school. We also are lucky in that we have a large group of science / medical / IT parents (lots of ladies) with children in the school and lots of interest, we need to get more on board and let loose !! We have a meetup scheduled for next week so see how we can go about re organising our Dojo with the aim of making it much more interesting and compelling - I will talk to the Principal of the school tomorrow to see if all teachers will talk to the students and get their feedback on projects which the kids would like to do and particularly on girl only / boy only / mixed groups… Best Regards, Dave
In my dojo I tend to deal mainly with the older age group (12+) doing web design. We used to have a large number of girls under 12 in the scratch group but the older groups tended to be almost exclusively male. Last year (like Dave’s dojo) we have tried getting away from “lecture style” and (using the belt system) tried to focus on individuals and their projects. This has allowed us to focus on creativity and this has really helped to get girls interested. We now have a 50:50 split in the web dev room which is fantastic. This is not something I actively set out to control, just a nice result.
Barry, what’s the "belt system " !! ?
Barry, what’s the "belt system " !! ?
I’ll start another thread on that
We’ve struggled to keep girls in our Dojo too, while we have no problem finding older boys. We’re thinking we will need to try and start a dedicated girls group.
I think sometimes we don’t go into enough detail on why girls have a harder time, Its a bit more complex than ‘lack confidence’.
The actual situation is most like a result of Stereotype threat
Studies have found that by just telling girls that ‘boys usually do better at this’, they will perform significantly worse in a test, compared to girls who were not told this. Unfortunately, the whole world currently gives girls the indication that ‘they are not naturally as good’ at technology by simply being so clearly male dominated.
Stereotype threat can affect any group who truly believe they have a natural disadvantage.
I know when I was growing up, I was often told when I struggled with homework “Its ok to be bad at maths, girls aren’t usually good at that stuff, there much better at things like languages”. But while this is intended to be encouraging, it told me that my male classmates weren’t also struggling, and that biology would always be against me, so It would be better to put my efforts elsewhere.
What I’ve seen as a result of this effect is that girls are much less willing to struggle infront of others. Particularly as they get older and start tackling bigger challenges.
I’ve experienced this myself, where I would study for my programming classes in advance of the lecture because I wanted to avoid asking too many questions, or being seen as less capable, because I felt that would attributed to my gender, rather than me as an individual. I’ve met other women who share similar experiences.
I think girls struggle to really thrive when they are in fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes about their gender.
Girls only groups could be one way to try and reduce this, as they wouldn’t have to compare themselves to boys.
I would agree with staying away from the pink, or anything overtly feminine. But still encourage their individual interests when they are making projects. After all, teen girls are constantly told their interests are less valid.
We’ve had our meeting and asked the kids what they would like … this exercise has had a much better outcome than the simple Scratch / Python approach… We now have, in particular, more girls interested… My own daughter (8 yrs) went from a girl who had no interest in “boring CoderDojo”, “boring Scratch” and “even more boring Python” to a girl who is very interested in attending CoderDojo to a) learn how to edit/create videos and content for her own YouTube channel and b) how to create her own apps as she “has loads of ideas for apps” as she put it herself , I’ll take this result anyday !, Coding can come along as part of her toolbox to create / develop her own science/IT/technical based projects… with the project being the exciting part for her… Start with the idea, the project, the actual thing she wants to create… let the coding, the science, the electronics be just one of the tools she will use to achieve her design…
You can also view the Digital Divas Club from Melbourne - lots of great resources.
The new CoderDojo club I am going to create is going to focus on using Vid Code then Alice - which are both very visual creative tools.
Apparently girls also like finding solutions to community / social problems.
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