Archive for July, 2009

News flash – Girls and boys are different!

Recruiting Strategies 101: Which of these two educational toys do you think most girls would want to play with?

Lego Mindstorm

PicoCrickets

Both of the above toys were made by the MIT Educational Lab to teach kids computer programming, robotics and engineering skills.  LEGO MINDSTORMS® were developed first (naturally, sigh) and guess what? The lab discovered that while the toy was a big hit with boys, girls just didn’t care for it.  Now I know one of our readers out there knows a girl who loves LEGO MINDSTORMS® – however, if we are trying to appeal to the vast majority of girls, monsters just aren’t going to cut it – they’re a boy thing. MIT then realized they needed to develop a toy that interested girls and that’s where PicoCrickets comes in. Instead of monsters, girls can make a cat robot and program it to purr when someone pets it. Take a look at the video clip below that shows girls making a diary security system with PicoCrickets.


The only problem is that everyone knows about LEGO MINDSTORMS®, while very few people know about PicoCrickets. That’s why we’re around! Go to our webpage to learn more about PicoCrickets. You can see more video clips, photos and an explanation of how they work. I look forward to the day when PicoCrickets will come first and LEGO MINDSTORMS® second. Will that be in my lifetime?

What message are the photos on your school’s website sending?

Recruiting Strategies 101: If you were a female student who wanted to study computer science which of these colleges would you attend after looking at their websites?

University of Massachusetts, Amherst (edit: Since this blog was first published the University of Massachusetts computer science website has been updated with photos of females.)

City College of San Francisco

Female role models are critical to recruiting women and girls to career areas in which there are very few women. That’s why in our CalWomenTech Project we built a Women in Technology section for each school’s website that features female role models, women in technology associations and much more…

Are you interested in developing a website section for your school or program, featuring women in technology? We’ve made it easy for you.  See our WomenTech Step-by-Step Web Guide. We even give you instructions on finding female role models.

Quick Recruitment Strategy: If your school only has photos of males on the website for your program, change those photos right away and make sure there’s more than one woman! It’d be best if women are pictured in at least one-third, if not half, of the photo images.