Gender bias is present from very early on in education. Starting with the choice between cars and dolls, little babies are educated to conform to the stereotypes that society still imposes. Various studies show that gender bias is strongly perpetuated by early education at school. Girls are often less encouraged and receive less teacher consideration and constructive feedback, especially in science and mathematics, which are still believed to be not their fields. Boys are expected to be more competitive, outspoken, and autonomous. Moreover, textbooks and children’s literature continue to portray stereotyped gender-role behaviours and characters. The result is that boys dominate the classroom, because they are expected to be more active than girls, and this behaviour is perpetuated in higher education as well. But sexism harms all genders. Boys are also stereotyped into non-flexible gender roles since childhood, and also when they grow up they still feel the pressure to not appear “feminine,” and men who do not fit this pattern are often excluded and feel failure and shame. Already many positive changes have occurred relative to the past, but a false sense of accomplishment has also taken root. While bias is less evident today, its influence is not less virulent, partly because it is more subtle.
Stereotyping is particularly alive in technology and computer sciences. Studies suggest that stereotypes of academic fields influence who chooses to participate in these fields. Men with high math and computer abilities are strongly encouraged to enter these fields, while women with high math and computer abilities are less likely to do so, also because of the stereotypes they hold about these fields. This situation reduces the self confidence of women to approach computer science problems.
The aim of the workshop is first of all to create a chance for women* to approach to a new topic in computer sciences in a safe environment, where the awareness of gender bias problems in education, and computer sciences in particular, is taken into consideration. Moreover, we aim to exploit this occasion to reflect and learn together about gender issues in the classroom, and how to avoid them.
Here is the link to all three parts of the Workhsop: