The first programming code was was written by Ada Lovelace before there was even a computer to run it on. When the Navy got their first computers Grace Hopper designed the first machine independent programming language. Both of these women laid the groundwork for what we do today. However, after the early days of female pioneers in Computer Science and programming the female has been distinctly lacking in the field. And the reason, it seems, is simply this: immature nerds.
The problem is not that girls are any less apt at computers. When given their own class without boys, female students flourish. But when put in classes with boys sexual harassment (there’s no other name for what happens) eventually drives them out. We need these more computer students so we need to stop driving them out for nothing related to their ability to contribute.
Maybe the problems go a step deeper. I know for myself computers provided a safe environment where I could excel, since I never was very good at or interested in sports or other physical activities. I was bullied and weak there, but in the computer lab I was king. However is it possible that that only provided an environment where me, and those like me, could in turn be the bullies? And since women are different they became the natural recipient? I don’t remember bullying girls myself, but the hormone laden early-teen brain is a funny thing and not to be trusted. It is possible that those bullied into computers turn around to be the bullies themselves this behavior needs to be addressed and stopped.
Is gender segregation the best solution? If the problem is the hormone laded teen brains then maybe that’s the only solution. I had one of those brains and what passes for reason in the world outside does not always penetrate the thick cloud of the preteen cortex. Until the normal is changed and it’s understood that there’ll be girls kicking butt on the digital front as much as the boys it may be necessary to give the girls a safe place to flourish until their numbers reach a critical mass. I hate suggesting this, but having a separate class for boys and girls that teaches the exact same thing may be the solution. Because the only other solution is asking a teenage boy not to act like a teenage boy. And while I’m all for teaching and encouraging that behavior out of them, sometimes it still takes time. Time where irreparable damage can be done. I was once a teenage boy and I can tell you they are not to be trusted.
In cases where segregation isn’t possible teachers need to be made aware of this situation and work actively to teach and encourage young men to grow up, stop bulling, and where necessary remove boy who can’t behave from the classroom, regardless of their perceived aptitude in the subject. This must take priority because a single immature boy can drive out a number of girls. Better to lose one future programmer than a dozen potential Adas or Graces.
Both of the articles linked in the second paragraphs are excellent reads that I will repost here and encourage you to study for further details: