Ubuntu Women campaign to get girls playing on computers

By Rosie Khdir

Now we have entered the month of May, World Play day is fast approaching and there is one group of people who are determined to use this day to promote women in tech.
The Ubuntu Women, founded in 2006, are aiming to “boost the visibility of women within all areas of Ubuntu” and have launched an interactive World Play Day initiative to encourage young girls “to embrace Ubuntu”. Ubuntu is an open source operating system used as an alternative to Windows and Office.
The debate on whether the lack of women in tech is down to nature or nurture could go on forever, but it is clear from the views expressed in a recent blog post by Amy Vernon of the Ubuntu Women Project that the Ubuntu Women firmly believe it is down to nurture.
In this blog post Vernon highlights the distinct difference in advertising for girls and boys toys, and how boys are “bombarded with images that show them playing all manners of computer and video games” while young girls are “blasted with pretty pink princesses and ponies”.
The objective therefore of this World Play Day initiative is to illustrate to young girls that they can play with computers too. An article posted on Ubuntu’s The Fridge summed it up:
“It hurts us all to have this subconscious of pigeonholing of our children, and to help counter this for Ubuntu’s community, we would love to have a collection of examples of young girls (toddlers through to 12 years old) playing with — and loving, and being encouraged to pursue — Ubuntu. This would allow parents of girls to demonstrate that it really is ok to be intrigued by the shiny screens, blinking lights, tappity-tap of keyboards, and faint whirs of computer fans.”
So here’s the question, will it work? Is it as simple as showing them a picture they can follow, or do we need to encourage IT education for girls and show them it is a possible career choice in later life.
This initiative is attempting to tackle to problem at a very early age, but it may be more effectively aimed at the teenage girls. It seems to be during the teen years that fundamental choices about hobbies and career paths are formulated.
Nevertheless, we’ve got to start somewhere, and if this helps encourage young girls to play with computers instead of sparkly ponies then start snapping!
Results will be revealed on World Play Day which is 28th May. There will be two winners, one that is drawn randomly and one that “sells the ‘girls love computers’ line the best”.
Rosie Khdir writes for PC Site – PC comparison and reviews – and you can follow her on Twitter @rosiekhdir.