Less Geeky Classrooms Increase Girls’ Interest in Computer Science

October 15, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. take up / ˈteɪkˌʌp / (v. phrase) – to start studying something
Example: I want to take up golf lessons next month.

2. geeky / ˈɡiːki / (adj.) – referring to being intelligent but not popular with other people
Example: She thinks that science-related courses are for geeky people.

3. fit in / fɪt ɪn / (v. phrase) – to belong in a group
Example: He’s trying to fit in with his new classmates.

4. resemble / rɪˈzɛm bəl / (v.) – to be similar to something
Example: His nose resembles that of his father.

5. stereotypical / ˌsterioˈtɪpɪkəl / (adj.) – referring to the unfair and usually false belief or opinion about someone or something
Example: He said some stereotypical comments about teenage girls.


Read the text below.
According to a recent study, girls become more interested to take up computer science classes when classrooms look less geeky.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, involved 270 high school boys and girls between 14 and 18 years old. The participants answered questions about their interest in taking up computer science classes, how they think they would fit in these classes, and how similar they are with students who take these classes. They also had to choose between photos of two different classrooms—the first one had computer parts, books, and video games around the room, while the second had art and photos of nature.

Results of the study revealed that 68% of the girls preferred the room designed with art and nature than the other room. The girls’ interest in taking up computer science classes is also likely to increase threefold if the classroom resembles the second photo.

These results may imply that stereotypes can make a girl feel that she does not belong in a computer science class. Thus, researchers suggest that creating non-stereotypical classrooms may help schools encourage more girls to enroll in courses related to computer science.

In recent years, the number of women who majored in computer science in the United States has decreased. In 2011, for instance, only 18% of computer science graduates were women. But this was not always the case. For example, 37% of computer science graduates in 1985 were composed of women. This figure, however, started to decline when marketing for personal computers started to focus only on boys. Thus, this resulted in the stereotype that computer science is for boys.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How else can we encourage more girls to take up computer science courses?
·         Is computer science a popular college major in your country? Why is that so?

Discussion B

·         How can gender stereotypes affect student performance in school?
·         How can we break gender stereotypes?

October 15, 2015