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Women and Information TechnologyResearch on Underrepresentation$
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Joanne Cohoon and William Aspray

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780262033459

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262033459.001.0001

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Lost in Translation: Gender and High School Computer Science

Lost in Translation: Gender and High School Computer Science

(p.89) 3 Lost in Translation: Gender and High School Computer Science
Women and Information Technology

Joanna Goode

Rachel Estrella

Jane Margolis

The MIT Press

This chapter presents four themes that suggest some reasons why and how high school female students are — or are not — drawn into the field of computer science through their high school experiences. First, despite the national and local initiatives to “bring schools into the twenty-first century,” researchers discovered that few computer science learning opportunities actually exist at the high school level, especially in schools that serve communities of color. Second, they found that notions of relevance play a key role in influencing females' choices to enroll or not enroll in computer science classes. A limited and narrow presentation of what computer science is as well as what computer scientists actually do impacts students' take on how computer science could further their academic and career endeavors. Third, for the female students who do take computer science, researchers observed an accumulation of negative experiences in classroom settings, where greater male technology experience/expertise and female social isolation and insecurity are part of the cultural landscape. Fourth, all of these experiences are then compounded by the way that computer science is motivated and “interpreted” for the students.

Keywords:   high school students, adolescent girls, classroom settings, social isolation, female students, computer science

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