And it seems that we’re going to need more players. Luckily for us, we have a whole lot of girls who are willing to play. But how serious are we about getting girls into coding? Not very, if we’re not changing the way society views and treats women.
We need to begin by providing girls with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her better stories that will enrich her mind. And most important of all, we need to start her off with the right toys, the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls. Yes, America is in need of a gender make-over.
Once upon a time, fairytales were enough to placate children and to teach them life lessons. Stories like Snow White and Sleeping beauty excited a girl’s imagination, with their common damsel in distress motif.
Fairytales were especially great if you were a boy. Good for the ego and chauvinistic in nature, they lifted him up and his imagination thrived with dreams of greatness.
But it has a different effect on girls. For her, fairytales unwittingly skew the image of women. The subliminal message is always the same, that women are weak and aren’t as important as men. In nearly every Disney movie the mother dies in the early scenes, as she does in Bambi; or she’s the mother completely missing, as in Rumpelstiltskin. Most recent attempts at changing the format fall short and revert to the modern version of the ineffectual mother, as in The Princess and The Frog.
Perhaps we should limit a girl’s exposure to Disney movies; maybe shorten the amount of time she spends playing with Barbie dolls and Easy Bake ovens. Maybe we should give her more video games to play, ones that will engage her intellectually.
Or maybe we can tell her a different fairytale, one in which a woman saves a man that’s in distress. It happens.
And then there’s still that bit about “equal pay for equal work”. Yes, we have to fix that, so a girl will believe that women are worthy; it establishes a level of respect. And in a healthy society, a boy or a man also needs to know that a woman who does the same job is being compensated for a job well done. It establishes a level of respect.
And finally, if we’re serious about girls doing code, we need to provide her with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her the proper stories to enrich her mind; and we need to start her off with the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls.