The WGBH Educational Foundation together with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and dozens of partners, proposes a major new initiative to reshape the image of computing among college-bound high school students, with a special focus on Latina girls and African-American boys. Image is seen as an important factor in the lack of interest in computing majors among high school and college students, who often see computer scientists as geeks and nerds with boring jobs and equally boring lives. Latina girls and African-American boys ? among the most underrepresented groups in computing ? represent particularly important and challenging audiences. The New Image for Computing project will research and design a ?communications make-over?? a new set of messages that will accurately and positively portray the field and will be widely tested for their emotional appeal to and intellectual connection with the targeted audiences. Experienced marketing professionals will help create the messaging campaign using proven marketing and communications strategies. WGBH, a leading producer of programming for public television and non-broadcast educational media, is uniquely positioned to lead this initiative, as they have a current, similar project called Engineer Your Life that aims to encourage academically prepared high school girls to consider engineering as an attractive option for both post-secondary education and as a career choice.

Project Report

(NIC) initiative is sponsored by WGBH, one of the oldest and most accomplished producers of public media; the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world's oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society; and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), a coalition that works to increase diversity in IT and computing. Dot Diva's mission is to create an exciting and positive image of computing for high school girls. Our nationwide survey revealed that not only do the majority of girls think of computing as "boring" and "hard," but they believe it fails to deliver two crucial benefits: "working with others" and "making a difference in other people's lives." Our ultimate goal is to transform this negative perception. Messages that Resonate with Girls To help change existing negative perceptions, our national survey polled girls about which messages they thought would cast computing in a positive light. The strongest messages were: Computing empowers you to do good Computing puts you in the driver’s seat Computing opens doors Computing brings people together Branding Concept: DOT DIVA With effective messages identified, the next phase of research was to test different branding concepts with girls, each based on different graphic treatments and variations of the messaging. The concept with the most powerful appeal was DOT DIVA. Resources and Activities The initiative has developed and launched a range of research reports and resources for girls, parents, educators, and other influencers: — a transmedia site for girls and adults. A free three-panel color brochure for students. Over 65,000 have been distributed nationally to date. A free poster for classrooms and informal educators. More than 5,000 have been distributed. A parent brochure is available in three languages; English, Spanish and Portuguese. An online bank of free images allows educators to develop customized material with images of real young women working in computing related fields. This is accessible from The Dot Diva Talk blog provides young women with ways to get involved in computing and relates stories of young females in the CS field. A Dot Diva Facebook community at The CSTA Voice, July 2010. Chronicle of Higher Education, July 13, 2011: "Bringing Girls Into the Science-Major Pipeline." Outcomes and Findings Several ways of assessing the impact of Dot Diva were employed. Pilot testing was conducted by Concord Evaluation Group to determine the impact of Dot Diva material provided to students in a classroom setting over an extended period of time. The pilot test was performed in an urban high school setting in Massachusetts during the fall semester of the 2010-11 academic year. The pilot repeatedly exposed 25 female students to Dot Diva materials over the course of 3 months. These materials included brochures, posters, two guest speakers, and the resources on the website. Teachers participated in a Webinar to learn more about the project and how to use the resources with their students, and they were provided materials to obtain guest speakers. The Webinar format was used to gauge the effectiveness of this medium for a national deployment. Parents were provided brochures, which were available in three languages. A survey was administered before and after exposure to the materials to parents, teachers and students. The results overall showed minimal changes in attitude about computer science as a career. In general the students do not recall the materials presented The assumptions made for this pilot include the ability of parents and teachers to influence students, and that the school environment is the best place to provide these messages. This research points to identifying alternative methods of getting the messages to students. And finally, Global Strategy Group conduced a nationwide online survey of the initiative’s Web site with 1000 college-bound teenage girls in early 2011. The survey focused on the impact of the Dot Diva website ( on the attitudes of young girls toward careers in computer science. Initially, just 38% of college-bound females thought computing / computer science / information technology would be a good choice as a major, career, or profession for someone like them or their friends. After exposure to the website, the numbers jump to 45%. Fully 24% responded that computing / computer science / information technology is a bad choice, but after exposure to the Dot Diva website those numbers drop to 17%. 37% of college-bound females say Dot Diva made them more interested in pursuing a career in computing. After exposure to the Dot Diva website, the percentage of girls who said it is very likely they will pursue a career in the field more than doubled from 11% to 26%.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Janice E. Cuny
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Wgbh Educational Foundation
United States
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