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I am interested in the application of the learning sciences and in leveraging technology tools in the service of learning. I am passionate about encouraging diverse participation in CS and understanding the role of women in the field.

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www.circleducators.org

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Jennifer Berdahl: The "crazy/bitch" narrative about senior academic women

The next time we hear a crazy/bitch narrative about a senior woman, let's ask ourselves: how much first-hand evidence do we personally have to back it up—does it resonate with our own direct observations and interactions with her? Do our male colleagues do the same things but escape such scrutiny or derision? Can they be "assholes" but stay influential and respected, and not get marginalized? If a senior woman does seem troubled, struggling, or isolated, is there a history of experiences that might explain her behaviour? Might a senior woman not advocate for junior ones because of the costs of doing so, because she feels powerless to do so, or because the junior women have rejected her? How might the narrative about senior women be challenged or changed in order to respect these women who have achieved enough success to earn promotion? How do we stop this generational cycle so that women's wings aren't clipped as soon as they approach the power to soar?

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We’ve studied gender and STEM for 25 years. The science doesn’t support the Google memo. - Recode

Still thinking abou tthis article and the journal article cited in it

How Neuromythologies Support Sex Role Stereotypes.

Author: Diane F Halpern
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Science, 12/3/2010, Vol. 330 Issue 6009, p1320

 

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Toni Morrison or Race

1 min read

The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.

Toni Morrison, “Black Studies Center public dialogue,” Portland State University, May 30, 1975

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Anyone can be a role model!

Anyone can be a role model!

As long as the role model does not embody current negative STEM stereotypes. As described by Stout and Camp (2014) a strong predictor in feeling a sense of belonging is noticing that there are others who look like you in the social environment. Research has also found that women tend to be repelled by the negative stereotypes associated with computing (Stout & Camp, 2014). 

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I'm a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you. - Vox

To be a woman in tech is to know the thrill of participating in one of the most transformative revolutions humankind has known, to experience the crystalline satisfaction of finding an elegant solution to an algorithmic challenge, to want to throw the monitor out the window in frustration with a bug and, later, to do a happy dance in a chair while finally fixing it. To be a woman in tech is also to always and forever be faced with skepticism that I do and feel all those things authentically enough to truly belong. There is always a jury, and it’s always still out. 

When men in tech listen to the experiences of women in tech, they can come to understand how this manifesto was throwing a match into dry brush in fire season.

 

Speaking for myself, it doesn’t matter to me how soothingly a man coos that I’m not like most women, when those coos are accompanied by misogyny against most women. I am a woman. I do not stop being one during the parts of the day when I am practicing my craft. There can be no realistic chance of individual comfort for me in an environment where others in my demographic categories (or, really, any protected demographic categories) are subjected to skepticism and condescension.

 

 

For example, we could look to the percentage of women majoring in computer science at highly selective colleges and universities. Women currently make up about 30 percent of the computer science majors at Stanford University, one key source of Google’s elite workforce. Harvey Mudd College, another elite program, has seen its numbers grow steadily for many years, and is currently at about 50 percent women in their computer science department. 

Yet Google’s workforce is just 19 percent female. So even if we imagine for a moment that the manifesto is correct and there is some biological ceiling on the percentage of women who will be suited to work at Google — less than 50 percent of their workforce — isn’t it the case that Google, and tech generally, is almost certainly not yet hitting that ceiling? 

In other words, it is clear that we are still operating in an environment where it is much more likely that women who are biologically able to work in tech are chased away from tech by sociological and other factors, than that biologically unsuited women are somehow brought in by overzealous diversity programs.

 

For today — given what women in tech have had to deal with over the past week — try pouring a cup of coffee for a female coder in your office, and asking her about the most interesting bug she’s seen lately. 

Cynthia Lee is a lecturer in the computer science department at Stanford. She founded peerinstruction4cs.org to support educators in flipping their computer science classrooms using peer instruction. She has a PhD in high-performance computing.

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Programming + Music with EarSketch: Curriculum Planning after the STEM for all Video Showcase

4 min read

This post is also available on CIRCL Educators Blog The timing of this year’s  STEM for All Video Showcase worked well for me as a teacher. It allowed me to see something right when I was starting to evaluate my curriculum and prepare for next year. During the 2017-18 school year, I will be teaching two high school computer science courses: one is an introductory course for Sophomores and the other is a new (for me) intermediate course for Juniors. Due to time constraints, our school schedule will not allow me to offer the AP Computer Science Principles course. Instead, I am designing a curriculum that’s appropriate for my students. I am excited about the content and hope it will be engaging for them.

 

As I watched the videos in the showcase, the EarSketch: teaching coding through music video presented by Lea Ikkache and Jason Freeman really captured my attention, or, dare I say it - caught my ear. As I read through the discussion thread, I learned quite a bit from the comments. I learned that there is a community of CS educators who are now using EarSketch, and even a Facebook group where the community can discuss the curriculum and share their materials and tips. The curriculum is aligned with the AP CSP standards currently, and the team is looking to align to CSTA standards in the future! Among other topics, students will learn to use variables, loops, conditionals, and lists appropriately. They will also learn to use functions and write appropriate comments for their code.

 

Now that it’s August, I find myself planning for next year and really digging deeper into this curriculum. As I work through the modules, I find that the instructions are very clear and well-structured, and the tasks are engaging. Best of all, EarSketch is super easy to use because it’s completely free and works right in your web browser - there’s nothing to download or install. So my students can easily access this programming environment from home or the library. While you can use EarSketch in either Python or JavaScript, I have opted to use the Python version. I am learning a lot, and am even planning to invite our music teacher to our class so she can help us make sense of the music theory elements that we might encounter. I am lucky to teach in a school where the performing and visual arts are emphasized. I will also be encouraging music teachers to check this tool out.

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 8.46.28 PM.png

Image: Taken from EarSketch website

I am still learning about EarSketch, but what I can tell so far is that it will engage some of my students (all young women) who are very involved with music-based extracurricular activities. It is also an application for programming that my students might not be anticipating. Through my dissertation study, I am learning about the importance of designing relevant and interesting examples and assignments for our students. EarSketch is definitely going to provide my students an opportunity to apply and practice programming concepts in a creative context with very appropriate supports in the form of instructions, resources, and examples. There are many links to audio and video files throughout!

 

I know that the research group is conducting further research to better understand EarSketch and its implementation in schools, specifically as AP CSP classes integrate the curriculum. I will be on the lookout for more publications about EarSketch – here is one about engagement across gender and underrepresented populations. Also, check out this EarSketch video that includes a variety of perspectives of people who have engaged with music and computer science through EarSketch.

For more information about EarSketch:

 

Video:  EarSketch: teaching coding through music

Website: EarSketch

Journal Article: EarSketch: A STEAM-Based Approach for Underrepresented Populations in High School Computer Science Education

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Data Analysis and the News

1 min read

As I wrap up my dissertation data analysis I see so much of what young women shared with me all over the news. Most recently I heard this interview by Kara Swisher of of Erica Baker and Sarah Kunst - towards they end, they describe what would be/might be helpful in changing the culture as well as the importance of having people who will speak out and say something when they hear or see something inapropriate.

These are skills that young women in the field would benefit from developing. Young women in HS and college are still developing their own identities and they are learning to identify what's appropriate and what isn't. They might benefit from explicit training. Not only that, but young men also need help when it comes to these topics - they need to be guided and given good examples just as much as young women do. 

This is an interview that I will revisit with my students.

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Exclusive: How to Break Up the Silicon Valley Boys’ Club | Vanity Fair

Susan Wojcicki on diversity in Silicon Valley.