DLI: Digital Media and Gender: Women and Girls Engaging with Technology

Expertise with digital media and technology has become a gateway for participation in many
aspects of society, including high earning careers.  Despite efforts to ensure equity in
technology education and the workplace, stark gender divisions in computing careers
remain.  Research has traced under-representation of women in computing to several
sources: gendered environments of social support, interest at young ages, experience, and
stereotypes.  This panel presents four papers that either investigate the gender divide as it
occurs “in the wild”, or highlight innovative program designs that have sought to engage

-Tomorrow's Technologists Today: Gender differences in Computing Pathways
How do differential levels of experience and interest at early ages impact young people’s
trajectories as they learn about computing and develop interest in computing careers?  To
answer this question, we investigate computing attitudes and experiences in a sample of
358 public middle school students in a community where most parents are employed in the
tech industry.  Despite students' ample access to tools and role models in parents, there
were significant gender differences in projected technology careers and future learning
activities.  However our results also indicate that personal experience should be taken into
account when attempting to understand reasons for persistent gender differences. 

-Women Remixing History on YouTube: Vidding Practices
This paper examines gender and fan practices of vidding history on YouTube. Women and
remixed media have a rich, decades’ long association (Jenkins, 1992; Harris & Alexander,
1998). Coppa (2008) describes vidding as “a form of grassroots filmmaking in which clips
from television shows and movies are set to music” (1.1). Interviews with female creators
and analysis of vid content, as well as reactions to the vid in the YouTube comments
section, reveal the new and complex ways women appropriate and remix pre-existing media
to create their own historical sources.

"Digital Queendom":  Engaging Urban Middle School Girls in Technology
This paper presents findings from a longitudinal study on the Digital Youth Network, a media
arts and technology program implemented at an inner city middle school.  In order to
encourage girls’ participation in the program, DYN leaders created a girls-only after-school
class, actively recruited female students to other technology activities and hired female
instructors.  By the end of eighth grade, the gender differences for Internet use were no
longer significant, suggesting that incoming gender divides had been bridged during the
years of middle school.  However, girls’ participation in computational activities (video game
design, robotics) remained significantly lower than boys’.

-Mandatory Computer Science at The Girls' Middle School
This study examines the factors affecting interest and experience with technology among
students at a private all-girls middle school in Silicon Valley. After three years of mandatory
computer science courses aimed at increasing women’s ability and interest in high-tech
careers, 37% of students indicated they would probably or definitely take more classes
about computers. The presentation will discuss the girls’ anticipation of their future academic
and work plans compared to other factors such as parents’ careers, student technology
experience outside of school, and student confidence.

Amber Levinson
Daniel Stringer
Daniel Stringer
Jolie Matthews
Amber Levinson
Michelle Hutton