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teaching young women in ways that suit them

Hi All,

I've been meaning to write this one for some time, as the material has been
sitting in my head for a month or more.

So, a month or two ago, I went to a talk given by a researcher in my department
who looks into, among other things, the issues involved in getting more women
into fields in which they are traditionally rare.  IT and FOSS are definitely
such fields!  She said two things that particularly caught my interest, and were
backed up by academic references I didn't bother to write down (sorry):

1) Teenage girls, on average, look for role models who are women and people they
know.  Teenage boys, however, tend to find role models who are public figures,
not people they know.

This is interesting because a teenage girl who is interested in computer science
or similar is not very likely to find a role model *among the women she knows*
to encourage her further interest in that field.  So many such girls and young
women are following their interest without the benefit of the role models they need.

I have no idea how to do anything about this.  Though maybe things like Debian
Women, which make it easier for people in geographically distant places to get
to know each other, are helping.  I'm not sure.

2) The small number of women who are already thriving in the field, have done so
by thriving in a situation which is dominated by men and taught by men who
thrived in a field which was dominated by and taught by men (and so on for
generations).  This means that these women will tend to repeat the teaching
methods which appealed to and worked for them.  This teaching may not appeal to
the majority of girls.

Now this one really makes me think,  I have always assumed that my very presence
in a male-dominated field (physics, mosly) was basically good for encouraging
more young women and girls to pursue their interest in this area.  Now I realise
that I need to learn more about how to teach in ways that appeal to *most*
women, not only the ones like me who work well in the field as it is currently
taught.  So I want to study this some more and refine my teaching style
appropriately.  I think this is very important.

Anyway, I thought this might be interesting fuel for a discussion on debian-women.

I am also hoping that someone out there can suggest some resourses I could look
at to learn more about ways of teaching girls and boys, and how they differ.  I
know there are educational theories about this stuff, but I don't know what they
are or where to start learning about it.  So if anyone knows of a reference
online or a book I can track down, I would be glad to hear about it.

Interesting stuff, isn't it...


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