Playing to boys’ interests starts early, sadly often in coding and computer science classes at the primary school level.
The temptation is to focus on diving into the ultra-geeky, more masculine activities to showcase all of the cool stuff you can do with tech. Race car robots. Monster robots. Space warrior robots. Etcetera.
But that’s exactly when teachers make the biggest mistakes in terms of excluding many girls who are yet to discover the magic of inventing technology.
We at NewTechKids learned this lesson recently. During our ‘Bringing Books & Films to Life with Robots’ bootcamp, we chose ‘Star Wars’ as one of the class themes. Kids were challenged to invent a new droid. Imagine our surprise when several of the girls indicated that they weren’t familiar with the ‘Star Wars’ franchise while all of the boys were whooping with glee.
This was a big ‘aha’ moment for us in terms of being more careful with our selection of themes which are gender neutral or appeal equally to all of our students. Existing school subjects are a wealth of inspiration for gender neutral themes that we draw on: art, history, geography, math and logic, current events.
A big reminder: we’re not going to solve the tech talent pipeline by only playing to the interests of kids (mostly boys) who are already crazy about technology.
(By the way, knowing nothing about ‘Star Wars’ didn’t stop these girls from tricking out their droid with the most light sabres and guns of any students in our class. See the photo accompanying this blog for their masterpiece.)