By ANNIE MURPHY PAUL
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In this weeks readings we were introduced to a wide range of analysis of girls’ relation to media, technology, and the Internet. One thing I found interesting is that fewer girls are going to college for Computer Sciences degrees. Kearney explains “girls think computer programming classes are dull and tedious; girls are uninspired by career options in computing” (249). However, this study by Tech Savvy believes that cultivating girls’ interest in these IT jobs will increase female’s presence in computing careers. I wonder how much changing the gender dynamics of the computer world will really help. Although, girls seem to be less involved in work related aspects of computers, in the United States girls spend a significant amount of time online.
In the chapter, Girls’ Media Education of Girls Make Media Kearney seems to be arguing against girls’ advocacy and for girl power. One statement that stood out was “rather than focusing on the power female youth already possess but may have difficulty accessing, as riot grrrls do, girl advocacy initiatives, like Girl Power!, stress the future empowerment of female youth through adult intervention, and thus unwittingly construct girls as disempowered in the present “ (109). If adult intervention continues in girls media education programs, will this help cultivate girls’ interests in computer sciences?
Studies have shown that girls are more likely to use the Internet for social networking, email, blogging, and maintaining friendships. In “The Girls of El Seybo” Paola Prado tells us that girls in the Dominican Republic are no different. “They use the Web to e-mail and chat, as a way to socialize with friends, acquaintances, schoolmates, and co-workers near and far” (21). If girls are using the Internet for these activities, I am curious to know how much of that has to do with the expectation of girls’ to conform to gender norms of femininity. Are cultivating relationships and concentrating on cultivating an ‘image’ something we can associate with the norms of femininity? Has this carried over into Internet use?
I think that Kearney’s study of girls’ introduction to web design may be helpful in finding answers to cultivating girls’ productive interest in computers. Many of these girls were encouraged to build web pages by a parent, outside of school or workshops. Some even taught themselves most of it through using sites like lisaexplainsitall.com (a site I was using by the age of 11). I think that much of what this study showed is that ‘adult intervention’ and ‘conventional’ classroom settings may not be the best place to get girls involved in the production of media. I think that making sure girls have good role models, and an environment that is less competitive and allows them the freedom to explore interest on their own would be the best way to allow girls to empower themselves through online production of media.