Brampton high school teacher getting girls involved in computer science with their own class

A Brampton, Ontario, high school teacher came up with a great idea for how to get girls more involved in computer science: get rid of the boys.

Yes, at Cardinal Leger Secondary School in Brampton, all of the girls in Grade 10 computer science go to class together. No more having three girls in the back, intimidated by the sea of testosterone; now, the girls are able to bypass the old boys’ club — or in this case, young boys’ club — entirely.

Dan Harmer, the teacher responsible for this plan, runs a Cisco Networking Academy at Cardinal Leger. These academies are found throughout the world and allow students the chance to work with real networking equipment used in the field. And, in the case of Harmer’s Grade 10 class, they got a lot more than just equipment. From The Globe and Mail:

When female engineers working at Cisco’s Toronto offices heard about Cardinal Leger’s all-girls program at the nearby Dufferin-Peel Catholic District school board, they invited the students for a visit.

“I think a lot of women don’t go into this field because they’re afraid of being the only girl,” said Hena Prasanna, a Cisco manager who met with the Cardinal Leger girls. “When we asked the girls who worked in the tech industry, they said chubby guys with glasses. That’s the impression they had and we wanted to change that.”

Changing that impression could be the industry’s best hope. The ICT council’s report concluded that Canada is facing a skill shortage of 89,000 jobs unfulfilled in the next three to five years, and noted that recruiting women and aboriginals to the sector is an important step toward addressing the shortfall.

I know what a lot of people will think when they read a story like this. Favourable treatment! Affirmative action! Politically correct nonsense!

Well, maybe it is favourable treatment. But won’t the high tech sector in this country better off with more people interested in it as a career? If we’re losing entire segments of our population from taking up a high tech career because they don’t feel they belong, that’s a problem. In this case, it means that 50 per cent of our population doesn’t think they belong in the sector. That’s a lot of potential employees with talents and skills to lose.

What do you think, Techvibes readers? Is segregating girls into their own class in high school good for the high tech sector, or simply not reflective of the real world? Sound off in our comments section.