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posted by janrinok on Saturday June 07 2014, @05:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the food-for-thought dept.

A huge nationwide push is underway, funded by the nonprofit Code.org's corporate and billionaire donors, from Amazon and Google to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to introduce American schoolchildren to coding and to redefine it as a basic skill to be learned alongside the three R's.

Code.org's curriculum has been adopted by 20,000 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade. But if coding is the new lingua franca, literacy rates for girls are dropping: Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science [PDF]. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates down from 36 percent in 1984. The imbalance persists in the tech industry. Just this week, Google released data showing that women account for just 17 percent of its tech employees.

The problem is not only getting girls to computer class, but keeping them there.

See also girlswhocode.com.

 
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Oligonicella on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:10PM

    by Oligonicella (4169) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:10PM (#52720)

    "Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical so there must be another factor."

    You lost your argument right there. One is not better than the other, but they are not at all functionally identical. If for no other reason than the hormonal bath is different. Males and females have slightly different brain structures and show distinct differences in testing. There is broad overlap, but they are different.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:35PM

    by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:35PM (#52734)

    The problem there is that you don't know if you are testing the upbringing or testing the brain. We are talking about girls and women in coding. The brain's ability to perform some function. Do you really think that in the context of writing some software or solving a puzzle there is a statistically significant difference in a woman's brain vs a man's?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:35AM (#52817)

    > One is not better than the other, but they are not at all functionally identical. If for no other reason than the hormonal bath is different.

    That's like saying that people who are taller have functionally different brains than people who are shorter. Probably technically true but says nothing about how that difference matters with respect to anything other than coping with their height.

    There is no conclusive evidence that differences in the "hormonal bath" have an effect that would manifest in consistently different levels of cognitive ability. Every time someone does test for that sort of thing, the result is either inconclusive or conclusively no difference. When they do find a difference, invariably it falls apart due to bad experiment design.

    • (Score: 2) by Kell on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:57AM

      by Kell (292) on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:57AM (#52823)

      Unfortunately, you are not correct. FMRI, CT and autopsies have all identified distinct (albeit minor) structural differences in the brains of each gender, and bloodtests readily differentiate the hormonal balance in which the neurons are operating. There is strong evidence that brains of different genders (and even orientations) have variability; we have no problem accepting that men are hairier, or stockier than women, so why would we expect their brains to be absolutely identical?

      --
      Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 2) by skullz on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:23AM

        by skullz (2532) on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:23AM (#52830)

        Absolutely. But I'm talking about big movements like language, coding, or how kids play. While boy and girl brains may have structural or hormonal differences there is no statistical difference in how they function in daily tasks.

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday June 09 2014, @11:16PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Monday June 09 2014, @11:16PM (#53455) Journal

          Absolutely. But I'm talking about big movements like language, coding, or how kids play. While boy and girl brains may have structural or hormonal differences there is no statistical difference in how they function in daily tasks.

          Actually, there is. [columbiaconsult.com] Granted, most of the actual tests were on babies and infants so they're hardly complex skills to us...but how else are you going to eliminate possible cultural differences?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:41AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:41AM (#52876)

        Brains are plastic. All of these analyses are after the fact - after the brain has been subject to the developmental pressures of social stereotyping. When that is accounted for, the differences recede to the trivial. [time.com]

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:40AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:40AM (#52859)
      "There is no conclusive evidence that differences in the "hormonal bath" have an effect that would manifest in consistently different levels of cognitive ability."

      Actually there was a study done that found that men process spatial acuity better than women do. I actually work in an industry where this could potentially make a difference. (If the number of men and women where I work was closer to 50/50 I'd share my anecdotal evidence of if that actually makes a difference.)
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:33AM (#52873)

        > Actually there was a study done that found that men process spatial acuity better than women do.

        And there was also a study [economist.com] that found it had nothing to do with the "hormonal bath" and everything to do with experience. That's the way these things always turn out, naive and poorly designed experiments confirm stereotypes, more thoughtful analysis shows otherwise.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:10AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:10AM (#53127)

          In your opinion. FTFY.