Tapestry Workshop Day 1: Gender and Stereotype Threats

Day one of the Purdue Tapestry Workshop and I already have ideas of things to improve this next year. Of course we started with some ice breakers, but these card games also helped get the brain going.

After dividing into teams of threes, each team was given a shuffled deck of cards. We then had to sort the deck into order as quickly as possible. Consistency, neatness and order were the keys as well as planning and communication. The fasted team completed the task in a mere fifty seconds! This would make a great introduction to sorting networks. Other card games included finding the correct order to create a patterned sequence of card playing and building the tallest house of cards.

The bulk of the day was spent discussing gender issues and stereotypes that threaten women and under represented minorities, keeping them from taking computer science courses. There were some surprising statistics and a lot of data points, but I did come away with a page of action plans.

I'm going to try and redecorate the lab into a more neutral environment, not quite so geeky and man cave like. I also want to try and be more encouraging, praising students' efforts and celebrating their achievements. The focus needs to shift from a strictly graded, hurdle jumping to more of a skill development setting. That will allow for student work to be showcased to the public and soft skills to be enhanced; such as communication skills and more time for reflection.

Overall it was a very pleasant start to a three day workshop. Food was excellent, rooms are nice and the company enjoyable. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's sessions.

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