It’s 2012 And Kids Still Describe Computer Science As A ‘Boy Thing’
Try not to stumble all yourself with those gender-permissive parenting tactics as you describe those sexist LEGOs as “first world problems.” Such toys convey to children of both sexes exactly what is an acceptable activity for a boy versus a girl, and they learn young. These messages eventually have serious outcomes in our workforce, evidenced in various gender gaps with few girls going into fields like computer science for instance.
It may be 2012, but Dr. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd, says that studies from her college confirm that from elementary to high school, kids of both genders affirm that computer science is still a “boy thing.”
Dr. Klawe has made it her personal mission to snap up all the smarty pants girls for her college, closing the gender gap in computer science on her campus. She told PBS in a sit-down interview:
“We’ve done lots of research on children in elementary, in middle school, and in high school, and if you ask girls and boys say about computers, they’ll all say it’s a boy thing. Not using computers. Everybody uses computers and phones…but when they think about actually becoming somebody who would create things with computers who would actually study computer science, both boys and girls think that’s something boys do.”
Toys are only one part of the problem as unconscious gender bias permeates everywhere — even with parents. But as toy companies encourage our daughters to concentrate on their hair and their tan while the boys are off tinkering with architecture and space exploration, the long-term influence does manifest.