Connecticut's County Kids Magazine

March, 2006

Girls and Computer Camp
By
Michael Zabinski, Ph.D.
Professor, Fairfield University and
Executive Director, National Computer Camps, Inc.


Although women pioneered the computer industry alongside men, they were and remain under-represented in this promising field. Empowering young women to shape society’s technological future on equal footing is what a computer camp can do for girls.

Astonishing statistics
Computer camp directly addresses the large gender gap that exists today in technology and in particular in computer science. This gender gap has been widely discussed in recent years, as evidenced by some astonishing statistics. In the United States 56% of Advanced Placement Calculus AB test takers are female, but only 10% of computer science test takers and 22% of Physics test takers are female. The enrollment in AP Computer Science in Connecticut in school year 2001-02 was 49 females and 296 males On the other hand, it is important to note that there is no apparent gender gap in the results of the 2001 Connecticut Mastery Test. Female and male students in grades 4, 6, and 8 scored equally (within 1 percent) in mathematics. These data suggest that girls do as well as boys in science and mathematics, but do not elect a course of study in technology. Similar statistics are prevalent at computer camps coast to coast: 90% boys and only 10% girls attend computer camps. This 10% figure carries forward to girls’ enrollment in high school AP computer science classes and then to schools of engineering. More than ever, today’s young girls will grow up in a world where technology is tied to every political, social, and economic decision they make. Yet they are not being prepared for it.

Why only 10% girls
There is no simple answer – but there are some ways to change this statistic. Parental influence, opportunities and priorities are definitely very important in channeling girls toward technology. Attendance at computer camp at an early age is another way to improve this statistic. Girls who attend computer camp enjoy it as much as the boys and do at least as well as the boys.

The impact of computer camp
The long term effects of computer camp are to stimulate interest among girls in computer technology, to offer a suitable basis for subsequent study of computer science in high school and college, to stimulate interest among girls in careers in technology, to instill confidence in the girls that they can indeed technical concepts and to help shape tomorrow’s female leaders in the field of technology. This is all very important as we live in a technological world in which technology affects our environment, our standard of living, and our quality of life.

National Computer Camp
NCC will once again be held this summer at Fairfield University. Overnight and day programs are available in addition to an optional sports program. Campers may sign up for one or more weeks during June, July and August. The coed campers, ages 8-18 enjoy small group instruction on PC and Mac computers for ample “hands-on”. The curriculum caters to campers' of diverse interests, backgrounds and ability levels. Instruction is offered in a wide range of subject matter and campers select among a list of courses, namely: 2D and 3D video game design, digital video production, web page design, computer programming in several languages such as Java and C++, and software applications such as Flash and Photoshop. NCC is America’s first computer camp. In 1977 Dr. Zabinski established the first of these educational summer camps coining the phrase “Computer Camps”. For further information and a brochure visit the camp at www.NCCamp.com.

©County Kids 2006


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