Why is it Important?
Mounting evidence showing gender disparity in STEM, including computing, has raised debates on the underlying reason for this gap. Some associate it with social and infrastructural factors, lack of mentors and role models, and lack of awareness about the changing paradigm of this field. Studies indicate that a traditional mindset with thoughts such as 'computing is boring' and 'it's only for boys' plays a major factor in the decision making of young girls when considering a degree and/or career in this field. In today’s world, the computing field is drastically changing to include creativity and multidisciplinary studies. To enhance awareness about this changing field, collaborative projects comprising of researchers and organizations are taking measures to modify classroom curriculum and after school hands-on activities in order to integrate creativity for an effective learning environment.
By changing the traditional mindset and helping with developing appropriate dispositions such as positive self-perceptions and greater confidence, we can help girls to embrace and aspire towards higher education and career opportunities. For example, a recent study's goal was to “inform our work in this area and to share learning with schools, government leaders, nonprofits, employers and others. What we learned is that conditions and context can make a significant difference to girls, young women, and their interest in STEM and the solution doesn’t necessarily require a curricula overhaul".
Also see the study conducted by Microsoft that began with focus groups of 44 middle school and high school girls. The girls shared their views, experiences, and feelings towards STEM in a candid environment, laying the groundwork for a quantitative survey of 6,009 girls and young women from ages 10-30 examining attitudes toward STEM, school and the workforce pipeline. The research was bolstered with a number of interviews with experts dedicated to supporting girls and young women in STEM. Dr.Kesar collaborated on the international research project with Microsoft.
Also see: NCWIT