Promoting Education and Equity for Women and Girls

"What skills should we be teaching our students to prepare them for technology jobs of the future?" asked a teacher at the opening session of the "Technology Connection," the AAUW Educational Foundation's July 2001 Forum on Educational Equity

"The most important skill they can learn is not to be afraid of change," responded keynote speaker Idit Harel, President and CEO of MaMaMedia, a media company with an award-winning interactive website for children. "Kids are growing up in a rapidly changing environment. They need to feel confident about how to figure out a problem. If they are stuck, they need to learn to use more than one tool, to help each other. They should be passionate about learning!"

Harel's keynote presentation kicked off the third annual forum in Washington, D.C. after a year of Workshop-funded professional development and innovative school-based projects designed to encourage girls' achievement in math, science, and technology. Among the panels' observations:

  • Girls need opportunities to tinker with computers building, designing, exploring without feeling embarrassed.
  • Technology should be accessible to all students, especially those with disabilities. Girls with disabilities are even less likely than other girls to use computers because they are not universally accessible.
  • "Call it oceanography and they will come." This quote from the Workshop's Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age (2000) suggests that if technology is integrated into areas of the curriculum outside the computer lab, girls may develop an interest in pursuing advanced computer science classes.
  • Technology exists to facilitate the human process. The process should not have to be contorted for the technology to be understood.