Try it, You’ll Like it

Encourage and recruit girls into gender-neutral computer science and robotics activities, and what happens? "Girls and boys have the same response — equal interest and confidence,” said Dr. Allison Master of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences about her study.

At the beginning of the study, explained her colleague Dr. Andrew Meltzoff in an interview, "overwhelmingly, six-year-old boys and girls very strongly thought that girls don't do robotics and girls don't do computer science... It really breaks your heart."  This is consistent with findings of Dr. Lian Bian of Stanford (previously U of Illinois) that both boys and girls pick photos of males as "really, really smart" beginning at age six, despite the fact that girls are outperforming boys in school.

But after playing with a robot, Meltzoff explained, “the little girls found that they were good at it, of course, just as good as the little boys.  And they got very excited when they made the robot move... Confidence zoomed up.  It was really quite remarkable.”

So how do we get girls to try computer science and robotics?  A Google/Gallop study of high schoolers found that "students told by teachers that they would be good at Computer Science are 2.5 times as likely to be interested in learning" it.  Unfortunately, "boys are much more likely than girls to have been told by teachers they would be good at Computer Science."

A study by Accenture similarly found that "62% of girls in high school who have had someone encourage them to study computing and coding say they are likely to major in it at college, compared to only 15%" who didn't receive that nudge.

So go on, try recruiting girls!