There is a great post on bycommonconsent.com titled: “How to Teach Girls in Your Stake Computer Programming.” This a wonderful idea and one that I hope it spreads throughout Mormondom. According to author Cynthia L:
The purpose of the activity was to teach all the girls in the stake, ages 8-18, how to write computer programs, and contextualize the importance of developing divine talents and skill–such as coding–within the gospel.
The author goes on to hazard a guess as to why girls are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classes, programs, and majors:
Research shows that one reason the tech industry has so few women is that after being equally interested in STEM in elementary school, girls turn away from STEM in junior high. One reason for this is that girls at that age are highly influenced by an altruism motive. This manifests in interests and aspirations associated with helping cute, helpless things: veterinarians, teachers, caring for babies and baby orphaned animals, radicalizing on environmental issues, etc. Unfortunately, girls don’t associate STEM with helping people.
Cynthia’s goal was “to show that there is a strong association between STEM and service to others.”
Hopefully Cynthia’s efforts will be emulated in other Stakes and Missions throughout the Church. She has graciously provided all the materials needed to get started.
In a somewhat similar effort, my colleagues and I have started a computer lab in Masaka, Uganda. Using a classroom in a LDS Church, we have set up a small computer-training center that is equipped with a high-speed Internet connection and 6 chromebook computers. In America, computer equipment and access to the Internet are widely available, but in Uganda they are not. So the limiting factor is not so much “altruism” as it is the lack of facilities. For this reason, everybody (not just girls) is encouraged to use the computer-training center. So far, the center has been a success. We hope to start formal classes sometime in the near future.
LDS Churches stand idle for much of the week. Here is great opportunity to provide training for the members and to more fully utilize existing facilities.