Rural implementation of Girls’ Programming Network (GPN)
A small-scale pilot study was conducted in north-west Tasmania to investigate adolescent girls’ willingness to participate in informal STEM education, through exploring their perceptions and experiences of computer science (CS), and their future aspirations. This pilot study was funded by an Inspiring Australia Public Science Event Grant, enabling the delivery of two local Girls’ Programming Network (GPN) workshops by the two Sydney-based GPN co-founders. The aim of this case study was to determine the viability of establishing an ongoing and sustainable north-west Tasmanian GPN, which would provide rural adolescent girls with opportunities to explore programming, connect them with mentors and role models, and show them what potential career opportunities exist beyond family and local contexts. Qualitative methods of data collection comprised focus group interviews and artefact elicitation with the participants, and individual interviews with the program co-founders. The results indicate that single-sex informal CS education opportunities are valued by adolescent girls, and that typical gender stereotypes can be changed due to the experience of engaging in them. The success of the pilot study indicates that establishing the GPN in a rural area to provide adolescent girls with free and fun CS experiences is worthwhile and viable.
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