Tune the Message

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-04-10 Print this article Print

In addition to the problems of bad PR and too-little-too-late efforts to reach girls, the way the message is packaged often misses the mark.

Efforts to make technology more appealing to women have often been slipshod, at least on the consumer side-making a phone pink or putting sparkles or flowers on a laptop is not likely to do much to make girls genuinely excited about working in technology.

"It has zero to do with women become technology inventors," Sanders said.

A better tactic, Sanders argued, would be to convince girls that they can make new technology better just by adding their 2 cents.

"If we don't have women at the design table, then the technology is not all that it could be. They might do it a little differently due to their different life experiences and it would be an innovation advantage. Are we inventing all that we could be inventing? I don't think so," Sanders said.

Some suggest that a fixation in the technology and computer-related fields on creating video games, especially those in the kill-them-before-they-kill-you genre, has also pushed girls away.

"I hear the video game hypothesis a lot from other professors, because these violent games appeal to stereotypically male interests," said Block, who said he has seen this interest firsthand.

"We had a department open house for potential CS students a while back. 10 people came, they were almost all male, and most of them were asking us about making video games," Block said.

However, whether or not the recruiting message gets to girls while they're still in school, the fact is that at some point down the road, all of them will need some fluency in technology.

"If we could show more young people what technology is really about-it needs creative, insightful people-they could see it for what it is," Sanders said.


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