Books for software engineers and managers

Lifting the Barriers

Lifting the Barriers

600 Strategies that REALLY WORK to Increase Girls' Participation in Science, Mathematics and  Computers

by Jo Sanders

How strongly do I recommend Lifting the Barriers?
6 / 10

Review of Lifting the Barriers

Lifting the Barriers is all about ideation and getting your mind going. In this book you’ll find a collection of bulleted lists – ideas directly from STEM educators that work on recruiting girls into technical education.

You can easily read Lifting the Barriers in 1-2 hours. Although you’ll see many redundancies and the specific implementations reference 1990s tech, the concepts still apply both in academia and industry.

I recommend reading this for tactical ideas, but for the bigger picture reasons why young women avoid tech you should read Unlocking the Clubhouse.

Focus specifically on recruiting girls into computer science  education

Being evenhanded and trying to recruit all genders equally isn’t going to solve the dearth of women in technology. We need dedicated recruiting efforts targeted at young women.

Beware appealing too hard to girls’ interests because you may be reinforcing the status  quo

Violent games and sports focused challenges are one contributing factor that drives girls away from programming. When removing these male-oriented themes, be careful to not swing too hard the other direction with course materials around makeup or dresses.

The author suggests selecting topics equally applicable to all students such as a challenge to build a database of pop music artists.

Look beyond math and science environments when recruiting girls into  programming

When you only recruit girls from STEM classes, you’re missing most of the population. Yes, girls in advanced math classes may be the most receptive but that’s preaching to the choir.

As an educator and recruiter, you need the courage to recruit girls in places that will yield lower conversion rates but have potential for a greater absolute effect.

Role models are important and you should ask leading women in technology to speak with girls both in group settings and  personally

Young women have too few examples to follow. It’s hard to see the path forward.

Look around you for women in technology and ask them to speak directly with students.

Distributing salary and career information to parents and students is an easy and effective way to attract a more diverse  pool

Many parents of girls and other underrepresented groups in technology simply don’t know about the drastic increases in salary and career stability associated with tech.

When presented with salary and career information, along with a path to action, many parents and girls take the first step toward a STEM education and career.

Always invite girls to bring a friend to tech  events

Many girls feel intimidated at programming events like hackathons and coding challenges. Explicitly asking them to invite a friend increases turnout rate and satisfaction.

Girls respond more receptively to the application of technology to a problem, so you should consider changing course and event names to something more  functional

Rather than authoring a course like “Introduction to Python” try something like “Build a Website of Adoptable Dogs with Python.”

Lifting the Barriers