Women and Games

Educational games that can both build technology skills and appeal to female interests will result in women and girls being more prepared for the technology classroom.

A game called Click! Urban Adventure had a big impact on girls ages 11-14 who used Pittsburgh, PA as their game board and STEM skills as their tools. After playing the game, 93% of the girls had a high degree of confidence in their ability to use technology and 78% reported wanting to learn more about the technologies they’d encountered (n=84; 53% were minorities). The girls’ interest in STEM also increased and they recognized the importance of STEM to their education and futures. Read the full paper to find out how the game developers used strategies such as creating team-based experiences for peer groups and leveraging the girls’ existing interests to get these results.

Source:

Hughes, Kristin. "Designing opportunities to spark and nurture scientific inquiry in middle school girls." Proceedings of the 2005 Conference on Designing for User Experience. AIGA: American Institute of Graphic Arts, 2005.

Why do female and male students enroll in STEM programs? This report looks at some of the reasons using national survey data from male and female college students currently pursuing STEM degrees (n=500). Female students were most likely to attribute their interest in STEM before college to a teacher or a class, while games/toys sparked the interest of the highest number of male students. Female students were also more likely to say that they chose STEM to make a difference (49% vs. 34% males). The full report uses surveys of college students and parents of K-12 students to give a more complete picture of how to inspire and prepare students for STEM careers.

Source:

Harris Interactive and Microsoft Corp. STEM Perceptions: Student & Parent Study. September 2011.

This report shares the findings from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation Commission on Technology, Gender, and Teacher Education based on focus groups of female students, online surveys of teachers, and existing research. Some key recommendations from Tech Savvy include changing the public face of computing, offering multiple entry points into technology and computing, and rethinking educational software and games to appeal to girls as well as boys. Check out the complete report for recommendations for educators, school districts, students, parents, and software/game designers on how to get more girls interested in technology.

Read the full report on the AAUW website.

Source:

American Association of University Women. Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age. Washington, DC. AAUW, April 2000.

A gateway of academic research, Investigaming.com features over 300 articles that help game developers make games that appeal to female players. Carrie Heeter, Project Leader and Editor-in-Chief of Investigaming, describes the benefits of connecting researchers and game designers, and provides examples of how the research can be applied.

The authors describe how The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, a computer game, uses techniques such as gender-neutral characters and storytelling to help get female and male students interested in higher-level mathematical and strategic thinking.

Source:

Rubin, Andree, Megan Murray, Kim O'Neil, Juania Ashley, "What Kind of Educational Computer Games Would Girls Like?," AERA Presentation, April 1997, TERC 1998.

In 2007, high school girls at Oakland Tech High School in Oakland, California studied circuitry, bridge building, soldering, toy design, green design and robotics through Techbridge’s science, technology and engineering outreach program. Among the resources used to teach the girls were PicoCricket Kits, which mixes robotics and programming with creativity in design. Read about the program’s positive effects on the girls’ self-confidence and interest in computer programming.

The designers of The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis explain how the computer game makes math fun for girls and young women, while introducing concepts such as logical relationships, graphing and algebra.

Source:

Hancock, Chris and Scot Osterweil, "Zoombinis and the Art of Mathematical Play," Hands On!, Volume 19, No. 1, Spring 1996.