Creating a positive ‘Geek Girl’ environment

Great post by Merrin Macleod on The Geek Girl Survival Guide. Useful for me personally but also useful for me in helping me to get started on creating an environment at school (planning on starting a computer / coding club) that will be supportive and encouraging in prompting ‘geeky’ things for girls.

Have you started a club? Have any pointers for me?

4 thoughts on “Creating a positive ‘Geek Girl’ environment

  1. Hi Libby,

    I have no advice for you but want to thank you for what you are doing. My daughter is only ten(y7) but already identifies herself as a geek girl, just like in the post. She went to a Rails Girls event here in New Brighton when she was 9 and loved every single minute of it. She loves coding and her greatest love is robotics. I am always on the lookout for mentors for her- I really think that is the secret to her accepting that it is ok to have different interests from the mainstream. Fortunately for her, she goes to an amazing girls’ sch here in Chch (where I teach) which really does the geek girl thing incredibly well. One of the girls she really looks up to works at the Chch Makerspace here- I wonder if the Wellington Makerspace might be a place to connect with?? My daughter just thrives with the whole tinker philosophy. She was meant to be starting a girls coding club at Uni of Canty this term- maybe Wellington University has something similar?

    Although I have no tips, I think just providing a club for like-minds to connect is amazing. Perhaps getting experts/ mentors/ guests to come in? The girls are lucky to have you.


  2. Hi Libby,

    It’s so awesome that you’re looking in to starting a club! Not sure if you remember me, we met at the Wellington CS4HS and I ran the Girls Computer Science Club at Canterbury last year (and hopefully will be again this year as soon as we can get it going again).
    If your school is co-ed the first thing I would recommend is having a specific ‘girls only’ club, just because it makes such a huge difference for the girls to have their own space.
    My top tips for the club would be…

    – Whenever possible have female tutors/teachers (like you!) so that the girls have role models and can see that it’s absolutely OK to be a ‘Geek Girl’

    – Don’t avoid talking about the fact that girls are underrepresented. If it comes up it’s always worth explaining that girls are just as capable as anyone else in this field (there is research that backs this up) but the stereotypes tend to put girls of more than boys. If you want to work in the computer industry that doesn’t mean you have to only be interested in that, you don’t have to be the kind of person who just sits at a computer day and night hacking away. People can be hugely successful in this industry and love it, and also have a big range of other interests.

    – Encourage group discussions, teamwork and peer programming. I don’t mean never let them work by themselves, because some students really seem to enjoy that, but emphasising that working with people is big part of computing is something I found the girls in our club responded to a lot

    – Relate things to real world examples. Stay away from ‘programming for programmings sake’, the girls tend to find computer science topics much more interesting when they can actually see real world applications of what they’re learning.

    I hope some of that helped! I’ll let you know if I think of any more tips, good luck with the club! We need more awesome people like you to encourage girls into this area!

    • Hi Caitlin, yes I remember you! Thanks for the great tips! Being quite new to computer science myself and having never worked in industry it is fantastic getting feedback from people who are more in the know than me! I am hoping that I will be able to hook into the Computer Science Club site (the Canterbury one) once it is back up and running. Thanks again for your comment.

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