Tag Archives: computer programming

U Mass Computer Science Department Adds Photos of Women to its Website Homepage

I am happy to see that U Mass’s Computer Science (CS) Department added photos of women to its homepage. Out of seven photos–two now feature women! Unfortunately, the photos of women don’t show them working in the field with equipment as photos 1, 2 and 4 do for the males. The photos now show a woman writing on a board in a classroom setting and two women in an office setting. One of the recommendations IWITTS makes in our WomenTech training is that photos are taken of women working with equipment. Too often women are portrayed in “passive” roles in the workplace while males are in “active” roles.

A faculty member who was on U Mass’s Computer Science website redesign committee commented on my previous blog article and posted additional URLs where we can see photos of women in Computer Science. I applaud that U Mass CS has these specialized programs for women. They should feature them on their homepage. I do still think that the homepage needs to have an equal or close to equal number of photos of female and male students (equally engaged in hands-on activities). Many women wouldn’t bother to go past the homepage, if the images are all male (or almost all male).

Readers, please comment about other STEM/technical education school websites with photos of all male students AND if you know of a website that shows half female and male photos we’d love you to comment about that, too!

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?