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Can fandoms fix tech's gender gap?

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, 12% of 2012 computer science degree recipients from major universities were women. That number represents a staggering decline from just a decade ago. We talk a lot about closing the gender gap, but how can we if universities aren't producing more women in STEM fields? Jessica McDonald, Director of Marketing and Communications for SparkFun Electronics, argues that the answer lies in changing how we think about teaching technology. She'll present original research describing how participation in fandoms--yes, fandoms--through sites like Tumblr and cosplay are shaping a new generation of techie girls, as well as discuss initiatives her company has taken based on this research in an effort to help close the gender gap.

Additional Supporting Materials

Questions

  1. What prevents girls from studying STEM fields or pursuing STEM careers?
  2. How does loving a TV show change the way girls perceive technology?
  3. What can tech developers do to encourage girls to stick with STEM?
  4. How can we change the way we talk about technology and science to support girls in these fields?
  5. Why does the gender gap matter, anyway?

Speakers

Organizer

Miranda Downey, Partnership Coordinator, SparkFun Electronics


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