The last Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report about the digital performance of the EU member states shows that a large part of the EU population still lacks basic digital skills, even though most jobs require such skills. The report also evidences the extremely low rates of females enrolled at computer sciences and information engineering academic courses, resulting not only in a massive loss of talent for companies and economies, but also perpetuating gaps in gender inequality in the ICT-related fields. To counteract these effects, the engineering and computer science departments of two Italian universities have organized, since 2014, an innovative form of summer camp, namely ‘Digital Girls’, dedicated to female students of the third and fourth grade of the high schools. The summer camp provides girls with a learning experience, based on a team-working and learn-by-doing approach, about coding applied to creative and innovative fields, such as video game programming or Arduino-controlled robot making, and with the exposition to inspiring female role models from academia and industry. For its scope, nature (free for the girls to participate) and duration (three or four entire weeks), the summer camp Digital Girls represents a unique experience not only in Italy but also, at the best of our knowledge, in the world. The COVID-19 emergency imposed deep changes to the 2020 edition of the summer camp, that was carried out completely online and based on different activities with respect to past editions realized in presence. In this paper, we analyzed the summer camp experience through its different editions, highlighting the impact of such activity on girls attitudes and on their plans for future studies and careers. The availability of data on several and deeply different editions of the summer camp allows us to highlight pros and cons of different approaches in carrying out similar extra-curricular activities to reduce the gender gap in ICT education.

Evaluating Different Approaches to Closing the Gender Gap at ICT Summer Camps in Italy

Antonella Carbonaro
2021

Abstract

The last Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report about the digital performance of the EU member states shows that a large part of the EU population still lacks basic digital skills, even though most jobs require such skills. The report also evidences the extremely low rates of females enrolled at computer sciences and information engineering academic courses, resulting not only in a massive loss of talent for companies and economies, but also perpetuating gaps in gender inequality in the ICT-related fields. To counteract these effects, the engineering and computer science departments of two Italian universities have organized, since 2014, an innovative form of summer camp, namely ‘Digital Girls’, dedicated to female students of the third and fourth grade of the high schools. The summer camp provides girls with a learning experience, based on a team-working and learn-by-doing approach, about coding applied to creative and innovative fields, such as video game programming or Arduino-controlled robot making, and with the exposition to inspiring female role models from academia and industry. For its scope, nature (free for the girls to participate) and duration (three or four entire weeks), the summer camp Digital Girls represents a unique experience not only in Italy but also, at the best of our knowledge, in the world. The COVID-19 emergency imposed deep changes to the 2020 edition of the summer camp, that was carried out completely online and based on different activities with respect to past editions realized in presence. In this paper, we analyzed the summer camp experience through its different editions, highlighting the impact of such activity on girls attitudes and on their plans for future studies and careers. The availability of data on several and deeply different editions of the summer camp allows us to highlight pros and cons of different approaches in carrying out similar extra-curricular activities to reduce the gender gap in ICT education.
Proceedings 4th International Conference on Gender Research
104
113
Francesco Faenza; Claudia Canali; Antonella Carbonaro
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/829393
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