WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
Whether it's the constant fretting over Miley Cyrus' influence on school girls or the growing (and troubling) tradition of Purity Balls, it's clear that society has a fascination with young women's sexuality — especially when it comes to controlling it. But what are we actually teaching today's girls about sex? Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there seem to be certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won't die. That sex education in America has gaping holes in its curriculum hasn't helped much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools' sex ed program included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is "done to them." Knowledge is power, and we can promote a healthier relationship with sex by encouraging a more open dialogue, teaching girls to feel comfortable with their sexuality and, most importantly, emphasizing that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. [more inside]
You probably know of Paul Dini as the guy who, over the past 20 years brought to television Batman, the beloved DC's animated universe (with Bruce Timm) and Duck Dodgers (among many other things). He's now working at Marvel after 20 years with Warner Brothers. Speaking recently on Kevin Smith's podcast he claimed that executives are spurning female viewers because they believe girls and women don't buy superhero show related toys, which may go some way to explaining the Wonder Woman decision (previously). (via) Dini's comments come at a time when many feel that the gender segregation of toys is regaining strength.
"The world of entertainment still, all too often, values women only as objects of beauty to be placed on screen and ogled. [...] [T]he world is full of other women who have profound, intelligent, often hilarious things to say, and Dunham is very quietly making a space for those voices on TV, in a way that’s revolutionary both in terms of the show’s gender politics and in terms of its presentation. - AVClub critic TodVanDerWerff on "how [the HBO show] Girls challenges the masculine expectations of 'good TV.'" [more inside]
Superheroes are for girls too! (sltumblr) "Superheroes aren't just for little boys. Here you'll find lots of images of little girls from past and present who also love them." We've been talking a lot about gender and comics on MeFi lately, especially with respect to superheros. Here is a tumblr full of righteous babes. [more inside]
How to Talk to Little Girls. "Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It's surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I'm stubborn."
Neuroscientist Lise Eliot finds that claims of sex differences fall apart. In one study, scientists dressed newborns in gender-neutral clothes and misled adults about their sex. The adults described the "boys" (actually girls) as angry or distressed more often than did adults who thought they were observing girls, and described the "girls" (actually boys) as happy and socially engaged more than adults who knew the babies were boys. Dozens of such disguised-gender experiments have shown that adults perceive baby boys and girls differently, seeing identical behavior through a gender-tinted lens. [more inside]
Pixar has released ten feature films thus far, and none of them have had a female main character. This has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it has been the subject of commentary for years. But when Linda Holmes at NPR weighs in on the subject (with thoughtful comments), some of the counter-blogs get downright nasty.
Dora Grows Up. Nickelodeon and Mattel have introduced a whole new look for beloved cartoon Dora the Explorer. But the new look has people asking, Is Dora too sexy? Nick and Mattel try to smooth things over.
Schools conspire against boys: educator I really don't know what to make of this. Nobody complained that schools were "anti-boy" before girls started to do better and outpace male enrollment in college. Boys were always the ones getting in trouble when I was a student too.
Good news for Lithuanian girls: ob-gyn tests no longer required in order to get a driver's license. Because, after all, an equivalent test isn't required for Lithuanian men.
Gender stereotypes are not the primary cause of a girl's developmental issues according to therapist and author Michael Gurian, who is interviewed for this thought-provoking piece on his recent work "The Wonder of Girls." He argues for more recognition of the role of physiological influences in behavioral variations, and the article cites some intriguing variations in the anatomy and chemistry of male and female brains.