DigiGirlz is an outreach program run by people at Microsoft who are specifically interested in getting more young women interested in Information Technology. Recently the New England Cable News channel reported on a DigiGirlz event at the Microsoft Technology Center in Waltham Massachusetts. BTW not all of Microsoft's US operations are in Washington State. Microsoft has some 900 employees in Massachusetts and more around New England.
It is estimated that by 2010, 77% of U.S. jobs will require I.T. knowledge and yet only 5% of U.S. undergraduates are following IT degrees. There are about 42% of the undergraduates in China and India going after IT degrees. Is it any wonder we're seeing more and more companies being forced to hire from overseas?
Programs like DigiGirlz are a chance to change the perception of IT as a "boy thing" and to show young women what opportunities are there. View the video here and if you are interested in what sort of jobs a company like Microsoft has (about 8,000 open jobs right now) take a look at our careers site where you can search by location or type of job.
And for more on DigiGirlz, my friend Diane is at a DigiGirlz event in New York today. She has information about other places the program is going on her blog. Apparently they are happening all over the country.
In the Upper School, we have only boys in AP (Java), Film and even Web Design classes.
Girls enjoy Digital Design class, but as soon as I mention programming, they consider dropping a class. I regret that I missed the DigiGirlz event in New York. Maybe next year…
I think that we need to start introducing some programming concepts to middle school students, if not earlier. We need to get them to understand the fun and challenge (and let them have some sucess) before someone convinces them that they can't chouldn't be interested in computer programming.
For middle school students you might want to look at the Visual Basic curriculum at MainFunction.com If you create a free account at that site you can get the VB 2003 version from the Curriculum Center. If the Resource Center is an updated version based around Visual Basic Express (2005). Either is free and includes an ebook that is probably closer to what you are looking for in a middle school book than most textbooks.
For supplemental projects you may want to look at a project book I wrote a while ago. It is at MainFunction but hard to find there. You can get it easily at http://www.acthompson.net/teachvb/vbnet.pdf
I should rename this to The Vista Weekly, because I can never seem to make this a daily thing. Oh well,