Building Virtual Spaces


The percentage of young women choosing educational paths leading to science and technology-based employment has been dropping for several years [1, 2]. In our view, the core cause for this phenomenon is a lack of interest and social support on the part of the girls and their families and not a lack of ability. The specific aim of this paper is to evaluate the utility of building virtual environments in influencing girls’ interest in computer-related educational paths and careers. This is evaluated through an intervention, or action-research, in the form of a class named Gaming for Girls. This class was offered to middle and high school girls three times over the years 2005–2006. We assert playing and developing computer games can lead to the acquisition of tangible IT skills and a higher sense of self-efficacy in terms of computer use. In particular, we discuss intervention methods that aim at changing socialization patterns by bringing girls into an all-girl classroom, reducing game violence by altering the forms of game action, and removing potentially negative character designs by allowing girls to design characters and game interaction themselves. We assert that within the information economy, playing video games is an advantage.