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UNLOCKING THE CLUBHOUSE CONFERENCE BRIDGING THE GENDER GAP FOR GIRLS AND WOMEN IN COMPUTING

The Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland, Maine - October 3, 2003

Today there is a computer in the hands of every 7th and 8th grade Maine student, north or south, rich or poor, thanks to the the visionary Maine Learning Technology Initiative. There is, however, another aspect of the academic technological playing field that needs leveling: the gender gap. As Maine enters the second year of "the laptop initiative," it is imperative that educators at all levels learn how to engage girls as fully, deeply and effectively in technology as they do boys.

Is there a problem? Yes. "Though today women are surfing the web in equal proportions to men, and women make up a majority of Internet consumers, few women are learning how to invent, create, and design computer technology. In the nation´s research departments of computer science, fewer than 20% of the graduates are female. Fewer still enroll in high school programming or advanced computer science classes. Despite the relative youth of the computer industry, women have lost ground in the world of computing." Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing (MIT Press 2002)

A year ago Maine schools were scrambling to integrate their new laptops into classroom life. One year into the project, having sorted through the particulars, Maine educators at all levels are more ready and see the need to understand how they can empower girls in technology. Now is the time to face the challenge of reducing the gender gap in computer technology. Maine CAN become a community with an equal number of women and men offering their perspectives and priorities to inform the development of computing innovations and their use, and reaping a fair share of the financial rewards.

The dynamic team of keynote speakers at this crucial educational conference will be Jane Margolis, a social scientist, and Allan Fisher, a computer scientist and educator, authors of Unlocking The Clubhouse: Women in Computing quoted above. Jane and Allan will address a state-wide audience of 400 educators faculty members, curriculum coordinators, guidance counselors, technology coordinators, technology integrators, media specialists, administrators, and others interested in computers and related to technology middle school through graduate school who are in positions and have the desire to act as change agents in Maine schools, colleges, and universities.

Attendees will hear about Jane and Allan´s research at Carnegie Mellon School of Computer, ranked as one of the best in the world, which offers both bachelor and graduate programs in computer science. Between 1995 and 1999 they traced how the technology gender gap develops; then they enacted educational reforms which made a dramatic difference. (The percentage of women entering the School of Computer Science rose from 7% in 1995 to 42% in 2000.) In addition, Jane and Allan will discuss the Carnegie Mellon Summer Institute for Advanced Placement Computer Science Teachers, which provided gender-equity instruction that resulted in increased numbers of girls taking high school computer science courses.

If you want to help make certain that girls become fully involved in our state´s technology revolution, not left behind, that previously established patterns that didnt work for girls and women get broken, that the gender gap for girls and women in computing disappears, we invite you to join us in Unlocking the Clubhouse.

Mainely Girls is a leading state-wide non-profit organization with seven years´ experience working to improve the lives of Maine girls. Founder and executive director, Mary Orear, is an educator with 23 years of experience. Last year we partnered with Zoey´s Room to create and develop Zoey´s E-Pals´ Technology Camp and Clubs for 7th grade girls. At this autumn´s conference for adults, Mainely Girls will continue its long-standing commitment to girls and technology.

Schedule of Events
8:00 — 8:45 Registration, Continental Breakfast, Casco Bay Ballroom
8:45 — 9:00 Welcome
9:00 — 10:30 Unlocking the Clubhouse Part I. — Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher
10:30 — 11:00 Morning Coffee
11:00 — 12:30 Unlocking the Clubhouse Part II. — Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher
12:30 — 1:30 Lunch
1:30 — 2:30 Technology Industry Leaders: Swimming Upstream — Panel discussion of women who have "made it" and the implications for us as we encourage and support girls and women in technology both in school and in the workplace.
2:30 — 4:00 Break—out sessions by school levels area — Facilitated discussion — What can we do institutionally and with students to Unlock the Clubhouse? (Includes Afternoon) Coffee Break
4:00 — Closing; presentation of complimentary copy of Jane and Allan´s book to each attendee.