Tanya Martin is a mother, an educator and a World of Warcraft aficionado. As
a gamer, she is exposed to a lot of stereotypes about women and gaming as well
as notions that girls aren’t as good at computer skills and coding as
“We need to get rid of those stereotypes,” she said. “Girls play games. Girls
In fact, encouraging girls to get involved in gaming just might ensure that more girls become
interested in STEM fields, especially technology and coding. Right now that’s
not happening. Boys make up 80 percent of the computer classes at her school,
and very few girls enroll in AP Computer Science.
Girls are gamers too
Martin, who is coordinator of the Professional Development Support Division at Broward Schools in Florida, is part
of a team presenting the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Girls,
Games, and Coding” on Thursday. The reason to combine games and coding is
simple: There is a clear relationship between gaming and coding. Video games
can’t exist without someone writing code. If girls make up 40 percent of today’s
gaming population, why aren’t they being encouraged to create those games as
Unfortunately, Martin pointed out, the gaming industry follows the same
boy-girl stereotypes that so many other industries and manufacturers do. Instead
of using pink and purple to entice girls, video games are “dumbed down” or made
more feminine to attract girls. That follows the same thinking as “math is hard”
for girls, and Martin wants that belief to change.
Instead, educators can focus on the positive
aspects of gaming . “Games can help you to think and solve problems,”
Martin said. A game like Minecraft, for example, is complex but it encourages
the gamer to concentrate on the problem at hand and find a solution.
From a girl’s point of view
The webinar will include seven enthusiastic female gamers, coders and app
builders from around the country, ranging in age from elementary to high school.
Martin hopes these girls will offer a refreshing perspective and that webinar
- Learn how to incorporate gaming in the classroom in a
way that will engage all students and enhance learning.
- Understand why many girls don’t choose computer
science. Some teachers don’t always realize they are alienating girls.
- Discover what makes a good game. Not every video game is a good
educational tool. Games should encourage active problem solving and teamwork,
Martin hopes the webinar will encourage teachers to play some of the games
most popular with their students.
“You don’t have to become proficient,” she said, “but trying the game and
understanding the basics of it will give you a new way to relate better to your
Get fully engaged in gaming during today's
webinar with Martin, her colleagues and seven amazing students.