Author Archives: StineE

A slow and steady battle – #WikidGrrls featured in Think Progress feature

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-4-30-15-pmWikid Grrls – Teaching Online Skills to Teenage Girls has been detailed in a feature story by Aysha Khan for Think Progress.

Her article “The slow and steady battle to close Wikipedia’s dangerous gender gap“ summarizes the many efforts undertaken mostly by women to close the contributor and content gender gaps on Wikipedia. Yet, despite a high number of interventions over the past five years only minimal gains have been made. The struggle continues.

#WikidGRRLs from start to now: a summary of how the project evolved

P1070215 hands on keyboardAfter finishing another successful semester of running the Wikid GRRLS project to teach online skills to teenage girls in Detroit Public Schools it is a good time to reflect on what the project and its team have accomplished. I wrote a brief summary of how Wikid GRRLS evolved over the years and how it transitioned from Maryland to Detroit.

Read about the history of the Wikid GRRLs project since its inception in 2012 at the University of Maryland where it received a seed grant from the Future of Information Alliance (FIA) and the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

While Wikid GRRLs is taking a hiatus over the next few semesters to publish results from the previous semesters and secure new funding, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to get involved. E-mail Stine Eckert at with any inquiries.

Photo credit: Stine Eckert

“She was both a student and teacher of mine once!”

wikidgrrlslogo-resized3.jpgIn this three-part series, Wayne State University honors students reflect on their experiences of teaching the free ten-week  Wikid GRRLs curriculum in Detroit Public Schools in the winter semester of 2016.

By Emily Verde

I found out about the opportunity to participate in Wikid GRRLa through the Wayne State University Honors College. The reason I elected to participate in the class was twofold: it fulfilled an important service-learning requirement for my degree and it seemed like a really fun, hands-on experience. I had no idea how challenging (yet rewarding!) the experience would be…

Wikid GRRLa is a course designed to engage young pre-teen and teenaged girls’ in a fun education about internet knowledge sites and the girls’ ability to contribute to these wikis and blogs. At least, that is the official purpose of the program. As I worked with the girls, however, I discovered that the actual benefit of the program is so much more.

Wikid GRRLs gave the young Detroit Public Schools students I worked with the opportunity to gain confidence in their computer and internet skills, develop important social and academic skills as they head to high school, think about their dreams for the future, and have a safe space to express their feelings, opinions, hopes, and fears. I was amazed at the brilliance of the students I worked with: their creativity, plans for the future (which included nursing, cosmetology, and law enforcement), and overall enthusiasm in learning about internet safety, blogging, and using their knowledge to benefit the world.

In addition to benefiting these young ladies, Wikid GRRLSs helped me to also develop myself, as a teacher, student, and overall human being. The class presented its challenges, especially during weeks when the students were high-strung because of the grueling standardized tests they had sat through all week, but as I got to know these girls, I learned how to listen better. I discovered that, too often, society shrugs off pre-teens’ feelings and input as “teenage angst,” when in reality these young minds are growing to mold our future. The students taught me that they are yearning for structure, consistency, and above all, someone who will just listen and let them express themselves. In the class I taught, many of the girls took the opportunity to write about how they felt: about law enforcement, racism, Detroit Public Schools, and even the general anxiety that comes with being a teenager.

My experience with Wikid GRRLs is something I will never forget, and I hope someday to be able to see the amazing things this girls will do and be able to say, “She was both a student and teacher of mine once!”

Emily Verde is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in piano performance. In the Wikid GRRLS project she taught middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools in the winter semester of 2016.

“A good introduction to undergraduate research”

wikid-grrls-logo.jpgIn this three-part series, Wayne State University honors students reflect on their experiences of teaching the free ten-week  Wikid GRRLs curriculum in Detroit Public Schools in the winter semester of 2016.


By Ramona Stamatin

This semester, I took the course HON 4940 Wikid GRRLs – Teaching Girls Online Skills for Knowledge Projects. This program is focused on increasing interest in Wikipedia and improving online skills of middle school-aged girls. It is important to intervene earlier than high school in order interest girl students in choosing a STEM career. I learned this from reading an article about a project that aimed to gauge interest in STEM careers for middle school students.

During the semester, I visited a Detroit Public School once a week to teach girls and I met once a week in class with my professor to discuss teaching experiences. At first, teaching seemed very daunting. I took the challenge head-on by actually presenting to the class a lot more than my co-teacher (another honors student) on the first day of lessons. After that, I learned how to balance our time teaching in the classroom. Every week, we went over different lessons that focused on topics such as internet safety, researching in efficient ways, how to make a Prezi, how to conduct online surveys, etc. The teaching experience was very enriching. It also made me realize I don’t want to teach for the rest of my life.

Teaching definitely had its difficulties. For example, at least three classes were cancelled, because of breaks that either the Detroit Public Schools or Wayne State University had in their semester schedule. Also, there was inconsistent attendance from the participating girls. I believe an easy way to ensure that the girls attend every week is by e-mailing the parents reminders every week to make sure they do not pick up the students until after the program.

That was the teaching aspect, but there was also a research aspect. I conducted surveys and interviews on the first day of lessons with the girls, then transcribed the interviews and analyzed them for recurring themes in the girls’ answers. It was a good introduction to undergraduate research. I also read other research papers and analyzed them in blog post, one addressed the dearth of computer science classes in U.S. K-12 schools; another one summed up a study that showed hands-on STEM projects with girls can increase their interest in STEM fields.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to impact the community in Detroit and I want to continue to stay involved in other ways, such as after-school tutoring

“Confidence goes a long way”

wikid-grrls-logo.jpgIn this three-part series, Wayne State University honors students reflect on their experiences of teaching the free ten-week  Wikid GRRLs curriculum in Detroit Public Schools in the winter semester of 2016.


By Sadia Ghazi

I signed up to take this class after a friend told me how much he enjoyed being part of the Wikid GRRLS project. Going into this class I honestly did not know what to expect. It seemed very intimidating to go teach a class for an hour to middle-schoolers. I was nervous because I never considered myself to be a tech-savvy person: how was I going to teach young girls about technology?

Well, in summary this class was an incredible learning experience for me. I loved the discussions we had about women in STEM every time we met for class. I enjoyed our discussions about how women can appropriately discuss the pay gap when applying for jobs. In the Detroit school classroom I saw how excited the girls were about being in the program. We only had three girls in the class, so there was always time for discussion.

The most valuable lesson I learned from Wikid GRRLS is that confidence goes a long way. Many of the girls knew a lot about technology but they felt unsure talking about their skills. This program allowed me to see that with a little bit of confidence anyone can learn their way around the internet. I still don’t consider myself a tech-savvy person but now I know that I’ll be able to figure it out.

Sadia Ghazi is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in psychology; she is also debating in the Wayne State Debate Team. In the Wikid GRRLS project she taught middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools in the winter semester of 2016.


Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 #Education #wikidgrrls

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Source: Google-Gallup study

By Ramona Stamatin

In “Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education”, a study sponsored by Google and conducted by Gallup, polls that were collected illustrated students’ and parents’ views on the necessity of computer science as part of the students’ curriculum.

Gallup interviewed nationally representative samples over the telephone. Results show that both students and parents favor the concept of integrating computer science into the curricula.

“Despite the value students, parents, teachers… place on computer science, teachers, principals and superintendents are unlikely to say computer science education is a top priority for their school or district, and less than half say their school board thinks it is important to offer computer science education” (Gallup).

The problem is that although computer science is an important area to study, these schools have many reasons for not integrating it as a core part of their curricula. Some reasons include: focusing on topics that are national and state required tests such as math, English, and reading; they do not have a teacher available in the district to teach the class; there is not enough funding to hire an additional teacher to only teach computer science classes; they do not have the technological resources, such as computers, to teach the class; etc. However, it is emphasized, statistically, that the focus on subjects that show up in testing is the main reason that computer science is not taught in schools.

Both, principals (32%) and superintendents (24%), state that this is the main reason. Also, this study explores computer access and exposure among different races. Data show that compared to Whites and Blacks, Hispanics tend to use computers less often, a smaller percentage of Hispanic students have computers at home with Internet access (75%) than White or Black students. However, overall, there is a higher tendency for the student to have a cellphone or tablet at home with internet access. It is important to understand the background of the students’ use of computers in order to relate it to the demand of computer science taught in schools.

Also, there is a higher demand for computer science to be requirement in schools by parents with lower income. It is remarkable that all the students from a higher income background tend to have a higher percentage of classes where only computer science is taught. Generally, this research explores the demand for computer science as required course and the reasons why it is not a top priority for most schools. “Many principals expect opportunities to learn computer science to increase over the next few years” (Gallup).

Ramona Stamatin is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in biochemistry, Spanish and theatre. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.

Read the full Google/Gallup study.


The Biggest #Paygap in America: Computer Programmers #wikidgrrls #gendergap

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Source: Glassdoor Report

By Emily Verde

A large part of the Wikid GRRLS project is exploring the gender gap in Wikipedia contributions. As a result, we also explore the possible reasons for this gender gap, including how young women are introduced to technology; how they are treated and how their confidence in computer skills fares as well as other issues of other men-dominated STEM fields.

An article by CNET staff reporter Max Taves, “Biggest Pay Gap in America: Computer Programmers,” published on March 23, 2016, analyzes a recent study on the pay gap within technical fields. This Glassdoor study study shows yet another possible explanation for the relatively low number of women employees in technological fields: a huge pay gap.

According to Glassdoor’s report “Demystifying the Gender Pay Gap,” computer programming is the field with the most unfair pay gap between men and women professionals with the same occupational positions, education, and other environmental factors.

The difference is striking, with women receiving 28 percent less pay than men!

This, of course, does not only apply to computer programming. In all technical fields, men make on average 5.9 percent more than women with the same education and position.

Taves goes on to examine the validity of the study, noting that it is likely that Glassdoor did not account for lower-paying jobs in the technical fields, such as assembly line work. Despite this possible discrepancy, however, it is worth noting that men have a higher advantage in obtaining upper-level jobs, and even when women obtain these positions, they are paid far less than men with the same job.

The report goes on to say that in actuality, “differences in education, age and years of experience ‘explain little’ of tech’s gender pay gap.” Glassdoor suggests that a possible solution is to lighten the burden on child and elderly care for women in the workforce and to make sure women have access to science and technical training. Taves, however, notes that, historically, when more women enter the scientific workforce, the pay actually drops.

Read the original article.

Emily Verde is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in piano performance. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.