Problem: There is a huge gender divide in the uptake of computing in English schools. Indeed, only 20% of the 2016 entrants for computing GCSE were girls.
Partners: The Guild was invited by Kirklees Libraries Service to collaborate on a ‘Girl Geeks’ initiative they were launching in Huddersfield. Girl Geeks is a national programme, which aims to support female talent development in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The ‘Huddersfield Girl Geeks’ project involved a one-day festival to engage girls in coding.
Approach: Understanding that the uptake of arts subjects amongst girls is significantly higher than their engagement with computing, The Guild proposed a multi-disciplinary approach. Sculpture was used as a teaching and learning method, encouraging participants to explore electronics through the lens of visual arts. The Guild delivered an interactive digital evaluation using audio recordings, Bare Conductive Touch Boards, modelling wire and conductive dough to explore how girls felt they related to computing inside and outside the classroom.
Findings: The pilot highlighted ‘negative perceptions’ and ‘gender stereotypes’ as recurrent themes identified by girls as barriers that prevented them engaging with computing. The pilot also demonstrated an appetite for creative teaching and learning methods in computing through both the numbers of girls opting in to the programme, and more directly via the evaluation where ‘teaching’ was a secondary theme highlighted as a barrier for engagement.