book blogging


Loren Webster blogged his reading of Catch-22 this month, providing excerpts and commentary as he worked his way through the book. I really enjoyed that--being able to see a book through someone else's eyes, read his thoughts and analysis along with Heller's original text.

So today, as I started re-reading Unlocking the Clubhouse, I decided to try to blog the book as I work my way through it.

I'm doing this for several reasons. First, because it will help me read the book more actively, and integrate it with my own thoughts through the process of writing about it. Second, because I'll have easy, searchable access to my notes once I'm done. And third, because I think it's worth sharing parts of this book with those who haven't read it. It's not unlike real-time conference blogging, really. Except that anyone who wants a copy of the book can get one.

I'm of two minds on comments. I'm doing this primarily for myself, and to share some information--I'm not particularly interested in getting into arguments on every point. On the other hand, hearing alternative perspectives could be interesting. So I'm going to start with comments open on these posts...but I may change my mind and close them if they turn into flamewars. I'll aggregate the posts under an "Unlocking the Clubhouse" category, linked at the bottom of each post.)

Written by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher, the book chronicles Carnegie-Mellon University's efforts to (a) understand and (b) address the issue of underrpresentation of women in their CS department. When they began their study, women made up 7% of their entering freshman class. (Sounds depressingly familiar.) Five years later, the percentage had risen to 42%. During that same five year period, it should be noted, the overall national percentage of women in CS programs had dropped steadily.

Here's a key passage from the introduction:

The study of computer science can be seen as a microcosm of how a realm of power can be claimed by one group of people, relegating others to outsiders. While not ruling out the possibilities of gender differences in cognitive preferences, we challenge the assumption that computer science is "just boring for girls and women" by showing the weighty influences that steal women's interest in computer science away from them. Our book tells the story of women students who were once enthusiastic about studying computer science and what happens to them in school.s. We describe what teacher sand parents need to do to engage and protect girls' interests and change computer science into a field that is engaging and interesting for a much larger and more diverse group of students. The goal is not to fit women into computer science as it is currently taught and conceived. Rather, a cultural and curricular revolution is required to change computer science so that the valuable contributions and perspectives of women are respected within the discipline.


I'll drop by the library tomorrow and pick this up. I've been meaning to read it anyway; I appreciate the extra reason to.

I doubt I'll have time to read this book right now since I'm moving, but I'm looking forward to seeing more bloggers doing this.

I'd also like to see more college professors sharing their expertise on line.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on July 31, 2003 12:03 PM.

collaborative learning and institutional culture was the previous entry in this blog.

why should we care? is the next entry in this blog.

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