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Education Programming

Girls-Only Computer Camps Formed At Behest of Top Google, Facebook Execs 449

theodp writes: Reporting on Google exec Susan Wojcicki's appearance at DreamForce, Inc.'s Tess Townsend writes: "The YouTube CEO said her daughter had stated point-blank that she did not like computers, so Wojcicki enrolled her in a computer camp. The camp made her daughter dislike tech even more. Wojcicki reported her daughter came back saying, 'Everyone in the class was a boy and nobody was like me and now I hate computers even more.' So, mom called the camp and spoke to the CEO, asking that the camp be made more welcoming to girls" (video). Fortune reported last July that it was the urging of Wojcicki and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that prompted iD Tech Camps — which Wojcicki's and Sandberg's kids had attended — to spin off a girls-only chain of tech camps called Alexa Cafe, which was trialed in the Bay Area in 2014 and expanded to nine locations in 2015. Earlier this month, Fortune noted that Wojcicki's daughter attended the $949-a-week Alexa Cafe summer camp at Palo Alto High, which was coincidentally hosted in the multi-million dollar Media Center (video) that was built thanks to the efforts of Wojcicki's mother Esther (a long-time Paly journalism teacher) and partially furnished and equipped by sister Anne (23andMe CEO) and ex-brother-in-law Sergey Brin's charitable foundation.
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Girls-Only Computer Camps Formed At Behest of Top Google, Facebook Execs

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  • $949/week? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .narhtnalel.> on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:34AM (#50572761) Homepage Journal
    Suddenly this push for segregation makes sense - "Fools and their money..."
    • Re: $949/week? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:55AM (#50572827)

      My son wouldn't be interested anyway. He's at the all male nursing camp.

      Not that he's interested in nursing, but as long as we're willing to force kids to do things they hate, why not start with my kid? It's just his life and all.

      • Re: $949/week? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What about all of the transgender children?
        They need attend a computer camp and be isolated from all other gender identities too! So they can be ready for the real world. Which by law is also segregated right?
        Why won't someone please think of the children?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:01AM (#50573381)

          Good thing they're all so stunning and beautiful

        • by pla ( 258480 )
          Don't forget that you need separate camps for the FTM an MTFs - Not to mention the inters and pans. And of course you wouldn't want to mix preops and post ops!

          Really, if we want to make this "fair", we should put every precious unique snowflake in their own class. And spare me all this Western CisHetWhiteMaleShitlord "STEM" crap - If they want to learn computers - or for that matter, brain surgery - by coloring pictures of pretty rainbow ponies, what the hell gives us the right to impose our beliefs on
      • Re: $949/week? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:18AM (#50573473)
        I force my kids to do things they hate every day. Go to bed, brush their teeth, take a bath, not stick their arms out the car window, buckle their seat belt, etc. No, I don't think "learning to program" is as important as those, just to head off that obvious response. My point is only that, generally speaking, "making your kids do things they hate" is an integral part of being a parent.
    • by Stellian ( 673475 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:11AM (#50572909)

      Daddy, daddy, computer camp was so great, we uploaded Justin Bieber videos, we connected to Wifi while riding a pony and I even convinced a really gross dork to fix our computers ! All the girls were just like me, cool, popular, white and totally not poor.

    • Cost to high??

      Sign hear to start a student loan.

    • Here is a transcript of how I think the whole thing went down:

      Wojcicki: "My daughter doesn't like the things I want her to like. Can I pay you to force her to like them?"

      iD Tech Camps: "Absolutely! Just give us lots of money."

      Wojcicki: "Can my friends give you lots of money to force their daughters to like stuff too?"

      iD Tech Camps: "Sure!"

  • And.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:35AM (#50572763)
    Somehow, I'm betting she still doesn't like computers.
    • by Skapare ( 16644 )
      or maybe she doesn't like boys
    • Re:And.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:02AM (#50572871)

      Somehow, I'm betting she still doesn't like computers.

      Some rich parents have this attitude, that if their children don't do well in school, there must be a problem with the school. They can't accept that their children just don't do well in math, biology, Latin, or whatever.

      It seems here that the parents are trying to push their daughter into something where she has no interest at all. How about if they ask their daughter:

      "We would like to send you to a summer camp where you can learn something. Where would you like to go . . . ?"

      • Re:And.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:27AM (#50572969)

        You don't get to be CEO by accepting reality. If you don't think you can mold the world as you want it to be, you're not even going to become middle management. Luckily for the offspring, there's enough money to make up for their parent's delusions.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Do you have any evidence that girls are being pushed into CS? There are lots of published, peer reviewed studies where girls are interviewed, express and interest but say that they feel unable to pursue it for various reasons.

        • Do you have any evidence that girls are being pushed into CS?

          It's in the damn summary, FCOL! Did you not even read the summary?

          • Re:And.. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @09:59AM (#50574307) Homepage

            Actually I read TFA. I see you didn't which is why you are confused.

            Wojcickiâ(TM)s daughter at first had a negative experience, and it took some elbow grease on Wojcickiâ(TM)s part to get her to stop turning her nose up at computers.

            Once she sorted out the thing that gave her daughter a negative experience (being the only girl in a class full of boys who were not nice to her) she seems to have been fine with computers.

            Her mother identified an area where her daughter was weak. Her daughter most likely didn't like computers because she had had similar negative experiences at school. She arranged for a class for girls, and with the barriers removed her daughter changed her attitude towards programming.

            Why is this so hard to understand?

            • So... fight discrimination through positive discrimination?
              Fight fire with fire, CS edition.

            • Re:And.. (Score:5, Funny)

              by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @11:53AM (#50575447)

              She arranged for a class for girls, and with the barriers removed her daughter changed her attitude towards programming.

              Perhaps Mommy can arrange a girls-only life for her daughter too so she doesn't have to deal with, you know, stuff.

            • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

              Devil's Advocate: I used to tell my parents I liked shit all the time when it was obvious to me that not liking shit would mean they were disappointed and/or would continue hammering whatever it was in my face all the time. See: piano lessons. So, while she may think her daughter now totally loves programming, it could just be she's going along with it to make mom happy-ish.

      • Re:And.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:29AM (#50573567)

        "Some rich parents have this attitude, that if their children don't do well in school, there must be a problem with the school. They can't accept that their children just don't do well in math, biology, Latin, or whatever. "

        I'm not sure it's necessarily wrong though. My parents aren't rich, but I didn't do well in math at school. I did however end up getting a first class honours degree in maths all the same though.

        The problem is that there was a massive disconnect between how the school taught and how I learnt. Throwing a textbook at me and telling me to solve 40 meaningless problems achieved nothing and I learnt nothing. When I eventually sat down in my own time however and wanted to figure out how to build me a 3D engine, suddenly all the calculus and stuff had a purpose, it meant something, it could achieve something.

        I'm not saying schools should teach 3D engine programming, but the point is that schools do very often get it wrong, they do an incredibly bad job of teaching for lots of kids. Mindless repetition of meaningless equation solving works well for kids who are capable of doing boring, repetitive tasks without asking, but some kids have a thirst for understanding and explanation, they want to know that what they're doing has some meaning, what it's for, where they'd use it. Statistics is an obvious one - teach boring stats for the sake of teaching boring stats and you'll have a problem getting through to many kids. Create a scenario whereby they're running a business selling shirts, and they need to figure out what sizes are going to optimise profit letting them know how much the overhead penalty is for creating additional sizes, and give them a bunch of data on measurements of people and you'll teach them not just the stats, but about business, about problem solving, and optionally even about team working.

        So I do agree with what you're saying, but I think we should also be careful not to give bad schools and bad teachers (which for subjects like Maths is the vast majority of them in my experience) a get out clause for their incompetence. I did well in maths in spite of my teachers at school, not because of them. It was only at university where the teachers really seemed to get how to teach, and even that wasn't a universal truth.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:38AM (#50572769) Homepage
    I think Hedy would approve [wikipedia.org].
  • by beaverdownunder ( 1822050 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:39AM (#50572777)

    Not convinced segregation is the answer here -- if girls aren't "getting it" then a lot of the boys won't be "getting it" either...

    Besides, my junior high school computer science class 25 years ago was one-third girls and everybody learned Pascal just fine =P

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:15AM (#50572929)

      Hey, well let's give segregation an experimental try on Slashdot. A few years back, on April 1st, Slashdot featured a "girlie" motif with pink ponies. Slashdot could revive this again as a parallel site. Then after a few months, we could ask the female users on the parallel site if they like computers better now.

      • Hey, well let's give segregation an experimental try on Slashdot. A few years back, on April 1st, Slashdot featured a "girlie" motif with pink ponies.

        Haven't you heard? Pink ponies are for guys now too!

  • I swear... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:46AM (#50572799)
    We're reverting back to the the 1800's again, this is barbaric. Would it be acceptable if a pair of white parents said that a bakery wasn't unwelcoming towards whites and therefore proceeded to buile one with a big "Whites Only" sign on the front? No, it wouldn't be permissible in today's soxiety, yet this atrocity is. Or is it perhaps okay because the two camps are "seperate but equal"?
    • Re:I swear... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:53AM (#50572823)
      The hilarious part is that the mother is so completely clueless to her daughter's feelings and she can't possibly comprehend that her daughter might simply not like working with computers. What if she instead insisted her daughter became a fashion model, and upon being told that she really wanted to be a scientist, would this story support her if she denied her daughter and insisted the fashion model camp be more approachable? There's a basic incompatibility here, her daughter doesn't want to become a programmer, and her mother is laughably misguided if she can't recognize this is not going to work out. The seriously sad part is thqt this lady's an executive, which means she's supposed to be able to make long term strategic decisions; if she can't even see something as basic as this, I'd bet that's one pretty lousy executive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here is a hint.. this has nothing to do with her daughter and everything to do with her mother.

        Clearly her mom doesn't care what the daughter wants to do, she just wants to get her name in the paper with a "positive role model" spin, which she did.

      • Different people have different likes and dislikes and we as a society need to accept that. Trying to force kids to like something isn't going to work. Nobody ever had to convince me to like computers, I was fascinated with them from a young age. Likewise nobody had to drive my sister away from computers, she never had any interest in them. It wasn't my parents pushing what we should do, they were extremely good about letting us choose our own path. My mom in particular was big on that since her mother had

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Wow! The only reason this is happening is because we've managed to fuck things up badly enough over the last two decades that we effectively have boys only computer camps currently.
      Do you go full "Dan's Brown's Body" for girls schools as well or do you reserve such an extreme reaction for computer camps?
      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .narhtnalel.> on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:11AM (#50572911) Homepage Journal

        Wow! The only reason this is happening is because we've managed to fuck things up badly enough over the last two decades that we effectively have boys only computer camps currently. Do you go full "Dan's Brown's Body" for girls schools as well or do you reserve such an extreme reaction for computer camps?

        Why single out computer camps? I'll feel the same repugnance if the girl in question was forced to go to fashion camp. We've spent the better part of the last 30 years convincing girls that they can do anything they want to, and now you expect us to applaud this behaviour?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... boys-only computer camps currently.

        It seems you're saying that education has been structured to disadvantage girls. As a student who saw schools in the 1980s demand feminized curricula, I disagree. The prevalence of women in universities and middle-class jobs show that the modern curriculum aids girls. In fact, the evidence over the last decade is that modern school curricula severely punishes boys.

        If you arguing the workplace is structured to disadvantage girls, you may be correct. But schoolgirls aren't in the workplace so that can't b

    • by alexhs ( 877055 )

      Year after year, the infamous "Science: It's a Girl Thing!" ad [youtu.be] looks more and more politically correct. They were misunderstood visionary geniuses :)

    • No, it wouldn't be permissible in today's soxiety

      You're not being fair. It wouldn't be permissible to the Yankees fans either.

  • Hmm I wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:48AM (#50572805)

    Did Sergey Brin go to computer camp?

    How about Carly Fiorina or Sheryl Sanberg?

    What is "computer camp" all about anyways? dumping your kid somewhere so you can have some time to yourself?

    Maybe Wojcicki should ask her daughter which "camp" she wants to go to if any!?
    • Did Sergey Brin go to computer camp?

      How about Carly Fiorina or Sheryl Sanberg?

      No, Carly Fiorina went to "How To Destroy a Corporation" Camp.

    • Maybe a computer camp with boys in it actually is detrimental. Maybe not.

      Still, I'd put a lot more faith in a segregated solution if the daughter had jumped up and down and begged and pleaded to go to computer camp and THEN come home saying "I hate computers".

      • Still, I'd put a lot more faith in a segregated solution if the daughter had jumped up and down and begged and pleaded to go to computer camp and THEN come home saying "I hate computers".

        Depends on what they did at the camp. I mean, if I had to spend two weeks sitting in scrum meetings I damned sure wouldn't like it either...

    • Sergy Brin went to CTY [wikipedia.org] a program promoted by Johns Hopkins and Princeton. Also affectionately known as Nerd Camp (and the subject of an upcoming movie).

      Our daughter is enrolled in CTYOnline and will be going to camp next year. This is a wonderful program. There is no gender/race bias and while somewhat costly, there is financial aid for low income families. However this is a tough program to be admitted to, you need to take special testing, and you better be in the top 2% of the population test score wise.

  • And...? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:55AM (#50572829)

    Some women (like Sandberg, who I'm fairly certain wasn't raised in girls-only environments) push for this sort of thing, neglecting a vital truth of the matter: the workplace requires just as much in the way of soft skills as it does hard ones.

    If it's true that boys are a "distraction", or at least "different enough" to be a problem* then girls-only camps serve only to kick the can down the road: girls don't know how to deal with boys. So what's to happen when they go into environments with boys? They get disappointed and leave.

    *which, if the environments are so hostile to women, why are we setting girls up for failure by asking them not to worry about it instead of training them from a young age to deal with it and make it more natural? Or for that matter, teach boys that it's natural for girls to be in this environment either?

    (Yes, I know as well as any of you that these "progressive" measures are not about equal rights for anyone but about flooding the marketplace of job applicants and driving down wages. But Slashdot seems to not be getting that feel-good crusades like this one aren't rooted in practical concerns.)

    • Re:And...? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:13AM (#50572921)

      If it's true that boys are a "distraction", or at least "different enough" to be a problem* then girls-only camps serve only to kick the can down the road: girls don't know how to deal with boys. So what's to happen when they go into environments with boys? They get disappointed and leave.

      I wonder if that's really the case. My two teenagers go to single-sex Catholic high schools (the public schools s-t-i-n-k) and they seem to be able to function well around teenagers of the opposite sex. (Note, though, that I don't push either into tech, and neither shows interest in it.)

      Thus, I blame parents for coddling their kids too much.

      • Re:And...? (Score:4, Funny)

        by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @06:34AM (#50573003)

        Fair enough. However, I also went to single-sex Catholic high school, but having been more comfortable around boys, the whole business made me four years' worth of miserable.

        Agreed on the coddling, though.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        (Note, though, that I don't push either into tech, and neither shows interest in it.)

        Yeah, I guess so. Sending your kids to a cult brainwashing school to believe in invisible space monkeys is about as far from science and tech as you can get. Some would say that teaching children those kinds of lies about the world is not just a failure as a parent, but also child abuse.

    • Well put. As the father of all daughters, I would not push them into any type of all-girl camp. I want them to function in society...which consists of males and females. You are spot on with the supposed "distraction" of having boys with them. As it is, they are as comfortable dressing up and being princesses as they are playing sports or tearing down a PC with me. I see no reason to single them out by their gender.

  • by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @05:59AM (#50572847)

    This is the equivalent of fathers that insist that their boys play a sport. Sometimes the kid really isn't interested in computers.

    • You have to try and get past the "I don't wanna", sometimes. I was one of those kids who "doesn't like sports". Tried hockey and baseball (hated it), and my parents figured I might enjoy individual sports more than team ones, so they made me try track (liked it but it didn't stick), horseback riding (showjumping and dressage; I kept at that well into my college years) and a few others with varying success. Point is: I would never have tried those if they hadn't made me. Same with computers: if a child d
      • You have to try and get past the "I don't wanna", sometimes. I was one of those kids who "doesn't like sports". Tried hockey and baseball (hated it), and my parents figured I might enjoy individual sports more than team ones, so they made me try track (liked it but it didn't stick), horseback riding (showjumping and dressage; I kept at that well into my college years) and a few others with varying success. Point is: I would never have tried those if they hadn't made me. Same with computers: if a child doesn't show much interest in programming, perhaps they'll enjoy the more artistic side of web design, or other technical hobbies. Stimulating a child means exposing them to all manner of sports, hobbies and intellectual pastimes. And sometimes it's ok to make them try something, as long as you keep in mind that's it about them, and not about your idea of a perfect childhood or spending Saturdays on the bleachers drinking beers with the other dads at little league. And of course you have to understand your child a little bid, and get good at picking activities they might like.

        The trouble with this line of reasoning is that you can use it to justify making the kid do any number of stupid things. "How do you know he won't enjoy mining for coal if you won't let him try it? No no no, not just once - it will take at least a month of working in the mines to see if he takes to it."

    • The challenge sometimes is figuring out what a child does not like something. Does he/she not like computers because the only exposure has been boring/mundane things?

      Does he/she not like sports because he/she was put in a league with kids more advanced and was not able to keep up?

      Does he/she not like math because the teacher didn't like math and didn't compel an interest?

      I can't count the number of times I've sat down to dinner with my kids and they have declared they don't like something we're eating befo

  • I, along with anyone from the 21st century, should have a strong distaste for anything like this where if you swap out the groups it becomes incredibly distasteful. It's like having women only gyms but look what happens when you try to have a men only gym.
    What they should do instead is accept anyone but make it more comfortable for everyone. What about the Hispanic and black males that are even more under represented than women in CS? Why is it ok to throw them under the bus based solely on thier geni
    • I, along with anyone from the 21st century, should have a strong distaste for anything like this where if you swap out the groups it becomes incredibly distasteful. It's like having women only gyms but look what happens when you try to have a men only gym.

      What about the Hispanic and black males that are even more under represented than women in CS? Why is it ok to throw them under the bus

      Score 10 points for disengenuous arguments! No one has thrown anyone under the bus. This camp only adds to the things av

  • i hate computers, i hate boys, and i hate camp.
  • ... she did not like computers, so Wojcicki enrolled her in a computer camp.

    Obviously, that is the right approach.

  • "My did didn't like computers so I sent her to computer camp and she still doesn't like computers. Something is wrong with the camp."

    Seriously??? My God. Somebody with that kind of mentality is a CEO?

    MAYBE YOUR KID JUST DOESN'T LIKE COMPUTERS!!!

    If your kid doesn't like broccoli, are you going to send her to broccoli camp? And if she comes back from camp still not liking broccoli, will it clearly be the fault of the camp?

    Do kids even use computers these days? I thought they did everything on their pho

  • The YouTube CEO said her daughter had stated point-blank that she did not like computers, so Wojcicki enrolled her in a computer camp.

    I wonder if she even considered the possibility that her kid just really, genuinely, doesn't like computers and never will.

    Maybe she should try asking the kid what she does like. Hopefully she likes cars and engineering, then mom can relax and tell herself she's raised her gender-non-comfortist child well. But I pity that kid if she actually does want to go into nursing or fashion, because mom is not going to like that.

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:27AM (#50573553)

    The YouTube CEO said her daughter had stated point-blank that she did not like computers, so Wojcicki enrolled her in a computer camp. Wojcicki reported her daughter came back saying, 'Everyone in the class was a boy and nobody was like me and now I hate computers even more.'

    Wojcicki made her career in marketing, after studying history and literature. She evidently didn't like computers either. But now she sends her little girl to computer camp?

    Seems to me the girl wants to step into her mother's footsteps: she doesn't like computers, but she has already figured out which buttons to push to get her mother to jump.

  • There are situations where segregation makes sense, or should at least be tolerated. For example, there is a long tradition of girls-only schools and boys-only schools. A girls-only camp? Why not. You are removing a host of complex inter-gender issues from the picture, possibly allowing the students to concentrate more on what the camp is supposed to really be about.

    However, if you accept this, there are two important principles that must be followed:

    - This is something each person should be able to decide

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @08:43AM (#50573677) Homepage Journal

    And I'm a software engineer!

  • by mpercy ( 1085347 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @09:10AM (#50573861)

    There'd be calls of sexism, racism, every kind of -ism imaginable. People would be protesting at Google headquarters.

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2015 @10:53AM (#50574877)
    Hello butler,
    Hello poodle,
    Here I am at
    Camp by Google.

    Camp is very
    Highfalutin
    Cause it's all-a
    'Bout computin'.

    "Try to like it",
    Mama told me.
    If I diss it,
    Then she'll scold me.

    All the boys are
    Banned from coming
    Since Mom finds their
    Presence dumbing.

    Since they do this
    Just for funsies,
    Makes us look bad --
    Hence the shunsies.

    This is stupid
    I lack interest.
    I would rather
    Be on Pinterest.

    'Stead of sitting,
    Making faces,
    Can't a boy just
    Trade me places?
  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @07:07PM (#50586299) Homepage Journal

    ...to open a 'Boys Only' computer camp and watch the feminists rail against it's exclusion of girls, as they should...

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