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Does Jane Compute?: Preserving Our Daughters' Place in the Cyber Revolution Paperback – February 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although "my child's education" is the reason most often given by parents for purchasing a home computer, girls aren't necessarily getting the same level of encouragement and experience in computer literacy, says Roberta Furger, a columnist and contributing editor at PC World. She backs this up with disturbing statistics regarding the gender gap in computer education for kids. While almost 65 percent of all jobs require computer and Internet skills, only 16 percent of the kids online are girls. This book not only describes the problem of gender inequity in computer education but it offers many strategies and ideas to help correct that problem.

As Furger sees it, although there have been great steps forward in women's education, many girls have been left feeling uncomfortable with computers. The pattern is similar to the ways in which they are dissuaded, subtly or overtly, from pursuing math, science, and sports. This contributes to women lagging behind in the job market. To figure our how to break this cycle, Furger looks at both computer education and recreation for girls. She then makes recommendations on how to make meaningful changes.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first half is "Jane@Home," which looks at how girls relate to computers in the family context. One comment Furger says she hears a lot from girls is that they have to compete with brothers who get the lion's share of family computing time. Another problem is the lack of software designed to gain a girl's interest and even harassment in male-dominated forums. The second part of the book, "Jane@School," demonstrates how even in the most wired schools, girls can get the short end of the stick in terms of computer access and encouragement to pursue computer-related careers.

Throughout the book, Furger shares the stories of dozens of girls who are representative of her research into the impact of technology on children. While she does not spare her readers the serious consequences of this gender gap, Furger's account of girls who are making headway in computing, and the parents and teachers who are helping them, presents a more hopeful, positive model. --Elizabeth Lewis

From Library Journal

The term computer nerd has a male connotation because it isn't acceptable for girls to be computer experts, notes the author. Consequently, many girls are growing up with insecurities about their computer skills, and there is a shortage of women entering the field of computer science. Furger, a contributing editor for PC World and an expert in the field of children's software, interviewed girls, parents, and teachers to develop strategies for helping girls have equal access to technology. She found that societal bias is pervasive and that change requires conscious action: mother-daughter computer workshops, games designed for girls, girls-only computer clubs, wired schools, and teacher in-service. The resource list provided here includes girl-friendly online sites and age-appropriate software, computer camps, and professional organizations that support women and computers. Highly recommended for teacher in-service and for public and academic libraries.?Laverna Saunders, Salem State Coll. Lib., Mass.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446673110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446673112
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,822,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Does Jane Compute: Preserving our Daughters Place in the Cyber Revolution by Roberta Furger is an excellent book that not only points out how little girls use the computer as opposed to boys, it also suggests what should be done in order to change the existing situation. This book is primarily directed toward the parents and teachers. Furger attempts to raise awareness of potential problems that could arise if the girls are not trained in time to use the computer. Girls are put to tremendous disadvantage in every aspect of their future lives and careers if they, as early as in elementary school, do not accept a computer as both necessary and interesting part of their lives. Today, most girls are simply not interested in computers.
The root of this problem should be sought, Furger says, at home. Parents tend to "discourage" girls from using the computer. Many girls have brothers who use the computer almost all the time thus denying their sisters the access, and parents, in most cases, do not even notice this. Furthermore, in those families who have no computer, boys always somehow "manage to figure out a way to gain access." Unlike boys who think of a computer as a toy, girls regard the computer as a tool. Also, girls are more afraid to explore; they are afraid something will go wrong if they push the wrong button.
"Girls frequently cite their mother as the most influential person in their lives," Furger writes. This is another very good point she brings out. Many girls, in their childhood, tend to identify with their mother, and what happens is, since they see their mother behind the computer only on rare occasions, when there is a specific task to be done, they develop the same approach toward the computer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a female CS major and a life-long computer person, I have to say that this book describes the struggles and confusion that I have been going through my entire life as a woman in a male domnated hobby/major/career. It offers suggestions and solutions to why there aren't very many female computer users and game players. It celebrates the girls/women that are weathering the storm and making a difference in the computer world. Very well written and throughly entertaining.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jlwst82 on March 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
While one half of the children in the United States are encouraged to explore the technical aspect of life, the other half--young women--are led away from these activities. Does Jane Compute: Preserving Our Daughters' Place in the Cyber Revolution, written by Roberta Furger, is an extraordinary book that takes a descriptive journey into the gender inequity phenomenon surrounding girls and computers. Interviewing and observing hundreds of girls, Furger uncovers the disturbing consequence of society's rules that are unwritten, yet very powerful. At a young age, girls are subtely pushed away from computers, just as they are with math and science, while boys master and claim these subjects as their own. As Furger discovers the many obstacles that are holding these young women back, she suggests twice as many solutions for parents and the rest of society. To take a closer look into these obstacles, Ferger goes into the homes and schools of these young women. "Jane @ Home" emphasizes the gender inequity alive in homes. With 40% of today's homes equipped with computers, Furger demonstrates how boys see their PC as a "toy", while girls on the other hand view it as a "tool". Boys immerse themselves in both the hardware and software--playing popular games and tinkering. Girls use the computer for completing school work, e-mail, and occasionally games. They spend very little time on it and quickly log off. Boys are characterized as the prominent users, investing numerous hours exploring new terrain. Furger explains that these gender problems are created by what parents say or do. The child is socialized to think that, just like the VCR, the computer is a technological device that can only be operated or repaired by a father/man.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Ball on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Roberta Furger reveals the gender gap that exists between boys and girls in the area of computer technology in today's society. Several years ago the concern was regarding why boys could not read. Furger suggests that concern now needs to focus on girls and the implications of attitudes, training, and access that are given, regarding girls and computers.
Today 60% of all jobs require a basic understanding and competence in computer applications. Furger questions in her book, "Does Jane Compute," if girls are given the same opportunities to achieve the needed skills, as well as, how girls perceive their own competence. The perceptions of inadaquacies or incompetence's abound in many ways, from teachers to parents to peers to ourselves. Like science and math, girls are piushed away from technology. Computer games are based around boy interests, when problems arise at home with the computer, mothers suggest waiting for "your father to come home," and teachers ask boys to help with computer problems at school. All of these and more give the subtle messages that computers are male oriented devices.
Furger suggest that mothers and fathers encourage their daughters to pursue interests in technology. Mother need to be positive role models by showing daughters their own interests in using computers and fathers should support their daughters in their interests.
In the second part of Furger's book, "Jane @ School," emphasis is illustrated in teh need to give females access to computers, giving simple yet direct instructions on the usage of computers. She sites several schools that have worked with parents in an attempt to create an evironment conducive for female development and competency. These have proved quite successful.
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