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The Decline of Girls in STEM Programs

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September 9th, 2016
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What does this mean for women in a future that will be dominated by the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM? And, more importantly why are there less of them? We’ve all seen the stats: women currently comprise 18% of computer science undergraduate majors, down from 37% in 1985. But, did you know that the earliest computer programmers were women and that the programming field was once stereotyped as female? It’s pretty hard to believe.  

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The good news is that girls are now taking math and science classes and doing very well at them, and even receiving higher grade point averages than boys. Perhaps this means there is a shift on the horizon?

Thinnox, being a learning service provider for the current Generation Z experiences these dominant trends first hand. We have noticed the large discrepancy in enrollment between boys and girls in course offerings such as computer programming, robotics, and game design first hand. Just look at our enrolment numbers over our 2013 summer camp season below.

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Comparison of girls and boys in key camp program for summer 2013

Girls are too often the lone rangers in some of our male dominated classes. What is surprising is that the instructors find the girls are doing great and having fun. We do see larger proportions of girls, however, in art-related technology programs such as graphic design and media arts.

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It seems that girls are more interested in applying the arts to technology projects instead of applying math and science concepts. Imagine how girls can impact creative design and how they may envision project concepts of an entirely different nature than their male counterparts if we had a more equal distribution of gender in our STEM based programs.

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It’s entirely possible, and quite likely, that I am oversimplifying and over generalizing the problem here, but what is clear is that we would like to see more girls in courses like computer programming, game design and robotics.

Sophia, one of our girl coders, says that “I wanted to do game design and I though computer programming might help…and it did. I see the importance of coding skills in game design.” After the computer programming camp, Sofia went on to do a second camp in media arts and is now in our game design camp. She currently has the most advanced and detailed map layout for her game and we are looking forward to her final product.

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