Impact of After-School Learning Programs on High School Girls’ Confidence and Interest in Computing
Tuesday, March 27 10:15-10:45 AM Location: Wright
Presider: Swati Mehta, Michigan State University, United States
Abstract: Despite increasing numbers of jobs and degrees, and the growth in interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the gender gap in these disciplines has not markedly improved. This STEM gender gap is more prominent in the field of Computer Science (CS). In the United States, only 26% of the CS professionals are women. At the secondary school level, only 23.2% of AP computer science test-takers in 2016 were girls. To address the persistent gender gaps in computer science, it is important to understand how we can engage more girls in computing. Co-educational environments where female students are underrepresented pose a risk to their sense of self-efficacy, belonging, and teacher bias in interacting with male students. Research on single-gender environments has proved successful in addressing gender inequity. Additionally, after-school programs provide instructors with flexibility in how the curriculum is structured and delivered to students, presenting opportunities to teachers to use gender-neutral language and providing student agency in project design. This study examined the influence of an all-girls after-school computing program on girls' confidence and interest in pursuing technology-related activities. Results show that engaging girls in computing activities increase their intentions to pursue technology majors and careers. We discuss implications of the findings and future directions for researchers and educators.