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To my daughter's high school programming teacher

Update 2 (wherein my daughter chimes in): As I said, my daughter is in India for a year, so she didn't see this article until Wednesday, September 11. I wasn't sure how she'd feel about me sharing her story and all the attention it received. Luckily, my daughter thanked me for writing about her experience. I asked her whether she had any corrections for the article. "Um, maybe tell them that I did actually talk to the teacher and I tried to tell the guys to quit being jerks," she said. "He told the principal, and it was really embarrassing, which is probably why I didn't tell you. And I gave up after that," she explained. My daughter said that, after bringing the problem to the teacher's attention several times, she finally asked him whether she could talk to the entire class about sexual harassment, he told her he'd think about it, and that's when he reported the situation to the principal. "And a couple days later I was in the principal's office being explained to that it wasn't my place to do that, and I just mumbled answers to get out of there as soon as possible because I was really, really embarrassed and fighting back tears." Before my daughter signed off our online chat, she asked me why I wrote about her story now. I told her about Alexandra, the nine-year-old girl who presented her app at the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon, and the titstare app developers who shared the same stage. "Well, I'm sorry that crap happened ... to both of us," she said. I am, too.

Update: Thank you for all the great feedback on this post! For those of you wondering why I chose the USENIX blog as my platform — instead of another tech publication or my personal site — it's because the USENIX membership and community have a long history of working toward increasing diversity in IT and supporting women in tech. Many of you suggested immediate action is needed to help combat this issue. I agree and that's why I'm working with USENIX on their Women in Advanced Computing (WiAC) initiative via the WiAC Summits and the Facebook WiAC page, as well as other efforts within the community. I hope you'll join us in this effort.

** trigger alert
(violence and rape references)

Dear sir,

I'm not writing to complain about your choice of programming languages (Visual Basic? Seriously??) or about the A my daughter earned in your class. And, actually, my daughter had no specific complaints about you as a teacher. I, on the other hand, have plenty of feedback for you.

First, a little background. I've worked in tech journalism since my daughter was still in diapers, and my daughter had access to computers her entire life. At the ripe old age of 11, my daughter helped review her first tech book, Hackerteen. She's been a beta tester (and bug finder) for Ubuntu (Jaunty Jackalope release), and also used Linux Mint. Instead of asking for a car for her 16th birthday, my daughter asked for a MacBook Pro. (I know, I know ... kids today.)

My daughter traveled with me to DrupalCon in Denver for "spring break", attended the expo at OSCON 2012, and even attended and watched me moderate a panel at the first Women in Advanced Computing (WiAC '12) conference at USENIX Federated Conferences Week. Thanks to my career, my daughter's Facebook friends list includes Linux conference organizers, an ARM developer and Linux kernel contributor, open source advocates, and other tech journalists. My daughter is bright, confident, independent, tech saavy, and fearless. In fact, she graduated high school last May — two years early — and is now attending high school in India as her "gap year" before heading off to college.

So what's the problem?

During the first semester of my daughter's junior/senior year, she took her first programming class. She knew I'd be thrilled, but she did it anyway.

When my daughter got home from the first day of the semester, I asked her about the class. "Well, I'm the only girl in class," she said. Fortunately, that didn't bother her, and she even liked joking around with the guys in class. My daughter said that you noticed and apologized to her because she was the only girl in class. And when the lessons started (Visual Basic? Seriously??), my daughter flew through the assigments. After she finished, she'd help classmates who were behind or struggling in class.

Over the next few weeks, things went downhill. While I was attending SC '12 in Salt Lake City last November, my daughter emailed to tell me that the boys in her class were harassing her. "They told me to get in the kitchen and make them sandwiches," she said. I was painfully reminded of the anonymous men boys who left comments on a Linux Pro Magazine blog post I wrote a few years ago, saying the exact same thing.

My September 8, 2010 post, Inequality, Choices, and Hitting a Wall, discussed illegal gender discrimination in tech. The next day, comments started popping up on the post. Sure, the sandwich comments were easy enough to shrug off at first, but within a few minutes, the comments increased in numbers and intensity. And then the threats of violence started: "The author of this article is a whiny bitch and needs a good beating to be put in her place." Ten minutes later, the rape threats began, and I shut down our comments site-wide. And then the emails started...

So, you see, I was all too familiar with what my daughter was going through, but I was unprepared for the harassment to start in high school, in her programming class.

I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class. Finally, my daughter decided to plow through, finish the class, and avoid all her classmates. I hate to think what less-confident girls would have done in the same situation.

My daughter has no interest in taking another programming class, and really, who can blame her.

For her entire life, I'd encouraged my daughter to explore computer programming. I told her about the cool projects, the amazing career potential, the grants and programs to help girls and women get started, the wonderful people she'd get to work with, and the demand for diversity in IT. I took her with me to tech conferences and introduced her to some of the brightest, most inspiring and encouraging women and men I've ever met.

Sadly, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and you, sir, created a horrible one for girls in computer programming.

Did you not see her enthusiasm turn into a dark cloud during the semester? Did you not notice when she quit laughing with and helping her classmates, and instead quickly finished her assignments and buried her nose in a book? What exactly were you doing when you were supposed to be supervising the class and teaching our future programmers?

I'm no teacher, so forgive me if you think I'm out of place when it comes to telling you how to do your job. But I am a mother, and I've spent years encouraging girls and women in IT, so perhaps my perspective will help you. After all, you didn't mean to create a a brogrammer-to-be environment, did you?

Here are seven suggestions for teaching high school computer programming:

  1. Recruit students to take your class. Why was my daughter the only girl in your class? According to her, she only took the class because I encouraged it. My daughter said she wouldn't have known about the programming class, otherwise. (I'm adding this to my "parenting win" page in the baby book.) Have you considered hanging up signs in the school to promote your class? Have you asked the school counselors to reach out to kids as they plan their semesters? Have you spoken to other classes, clubs, or fellow teachers to tell them about why programming is exciting and how programming fits into our daily lives? Have you asked the journalism students to write a feature on the amazing career opportunities for programmers or the fun projects they could work on? Have you asked current students to spread the word and tell their friends to try your class?
  2. Set the tone. On the first day of class, talk about the low numbers of women and lack of diversity in IT, why this is a problem, and how students can help increase diversity in programming. Tell students about imposter syndrome and how to help classmates overcome it. Create an inclusive, friendly, safe learning environment from day one. I thought this was a no brainer, but obviously, it's not.
  3. Outline, explain, and enforce an anti-harassment policy.
  4. Don't be boring and out-of-date. Visual Basic? Seriously?? Yes, I know I said I'm not writing to complain about your choice of programming languages, even though I'm still scratching my head on this one. The reason I mention your choice is that it doesn't help you make a good first impression on new programmers. I have no idea what my teen learned in your class because she wasn't excited about it. Without touching your minuscule class budget, you can offer a range of instruction with real-world applications. With resources like Codecademy, for example, students could try a variety of programming languages, or focus on ones they find interesting. Have you considered showing kids how to develop a phone app? Program a Raspberry Pi? Create a computer game? Build a website? Good grief, man — how were you even able to make programming boring?
  5. Pay attention. I don't know what you were doing during class, but you weren't paying attention, otherwise you would have noticed that my daughter was isolated and being harassed. Do you expect girls to come tell you when they are being harassed? Well, don't count on it. Instead, they pull away, get depressed, or drop out completely, just like they do in IT careers. You want to know what happens when women speak up about verbal abuse or report harassment? Backlash, and it's ugly. Best case, she'll get shunned by classmates or colleagues. And hopefully she won't read any online comments...ever. But it can get much worse, with the vulgar emails and phone calls, and home addresses posted online, and threats of violence. Sadly, this isn't rare; this happens all the time, from high school on up into our careers. Don't believe me? That's because you aren't paying attention.
  6. Check in. Talk to your students in private to see how class is going for them. Talk to other teachers or school counselors. Had you talked to my daughter's counselor, for example, you would have known how class was going. The counselor worked closely with my daughter to help her graduate early, and she would have had no problem getting an honest answer about my daughter's unpleasant experience in your brogramming class. Did you expect me to call you? Believe me, I wanted to, but I also respected my daughter's request to let her handle the situation. And see number 5. Had I told you how class was going for my daughter, her situation would not have improved, and might have gotten even worse.
  7. Follow up. At the end of the semester, take a survey. Allow students to submit anonymous online answers to questions about the class material, your teaching methods, and their experience with other students. Allowing anonymity will help you get honest answers and, hopefully, you can improve your programming class for your next round of students.

Look, you don't have to tell me how hard your job is or how underpaid and overstressed you are as a high school teacher. I'm a single mother working in tech publishing — believe me, I get it. I like to think what I do is important, but what teachers do has the potential to change the world. No article I write will ever do that, but the daughter I raise might.

I spent 16 years raising a daughter who had all the tools and encouragement she needed to explore computer programming as a career. In one short semester, you and her classmates undid all of my years of encouragement.

I always told my daughter that high school isn't real life. Unfortunately, your programming class proved otherwise. In one semester, my daughter learned why there are so few women in IT, and no amount of encouragement from me is going to change that.

Comments

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I think quite a lot about what is my daughter's best path to programming proficiency and a possible computer science career, should she be interested. The majority of primary ed, secondary ed (and undegraduate) programming courses are not very good and as parents we know this will likely be the case for our children, too, if we stop and think about what is likely. It is our responsibility to be meeting with the school ahead of time to determine what is the curriculum and influence it as much as possible, as soon as possible. Our children only have one chance at these classes when a bad experience can steer them away from computer science forever. But, advocating changes afterwards to benefit the upcoming students is also good to do.

Now, where I disagree is that I would not counsel a teacher to single out my daughter in front of the whole class for being a woman. I would counsel the teacher to require all students to treat each other as serious, inquisitive, students -- professional respect, if you will. This has the benefit of teaching that good workplace habits should be practiced everywhere, and that school can be realistic training, instead of teaching that a classroom is an unrealistic padded room, which is what I believe to be an effect of that announcement.

That said, many schools lack the culture to make a high expectation possible, so resorting to quick-fix gender policing may be a necessary compromise. And, I get hints this is the case here since your daughter is bright and accomplished yet falls into line so easily instead of challenging the dull class, classmates and teacher. Your daughter will certainly get further under the wing of an overprotective teacher than with an absent one in addition to cruel classmates and no compelling course content.

Thanks for writing!

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I feel for your daughter - I remember my first programming class in high school. I was hooked for life. I hope she can recapture her enthusiasm. I'd be happy to help if she wants to explore programming on her own (C#/.NET, C, Java, even PHP and a little Ruby). I can answer questions, offer advice, point her to resources.  I can't promise it will be easy but I can promise that I will respect and encourage her (like I have my own daughter who just got a job at her University at the IT Help Desk).  I've done a bit of teaching at the University level and I'm currently a top 1% contributor on Stack Overflow.

Contact me on Twitter, @tvanfosson, if she is interested.

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I'm sorry, but after reading this post, I couldn't help but feel turned off by what I feel was arrogance and repeated attempts to convince the reader how knowledgable you are about programming, but I was most upset by the repeated insults hurled at the teacher. You obviously are offended the class was about Visual Basic. Then why sign up for the class? Your daughter was obviously too advanced for the curriculum, even though you admit most of the other kids struggled with the curriculum. News Flash: not all kids are Tech Junkie's daughters and have been around computers their whole life 

Do you not understand the teacher has very little control over the curriculum selected and taught? Maybe he would have rather taught HTML, but the powers that . be at his school (more likely his State's Education commitee) decided that was what was going to be taught. Newsflash: Your not in Mountain View or Cupertino writing a story. You are in a terribly underfunded, terribly overcrowded Public School. Did you expect to find Linus Torvolds teaching the class?

If you're in fact, so qualified and eager to judge, why don't you put your self described awesome resume to use and go sub for a few days. Go see the roadblocks that teacher has in front of him on a daily basis. I think you will be 10 times as shocked as you are now. 

I'm sorry for the rant. But I'm a teacher and I get offended when "know it all" parents belittle a teacher who may not have deserved it.

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I feel for you, and your daughter, I really do. And I don't want the way you wrote about the subject to overshadow the actual problem. But like Senorgravy, I had to bite down my frustration over your constant self boasting and your dedrigration of the teacher/curriculum just to get to the heart of the post. The way you wrote this letter enables the argument to quickly become about You and the Teacher, not about being bullied in class. I would expect better out of a journalist. 

On the subject: It is never ok for someone to be bullied in class, but it's also not reasonable to expect it to never hapen. She should not have to suck it up, and deal with it. But the reality is that sometimes, that's exactly what you have to do. There isn't always a easy answer. And often, getting a Authoritive figure involved makes things worse or the individual.

I think bringing it up to the Teacher after the fact is a great way to help to prevent it to hapening to another student. But in the mean time, try to equip your daughter with the confidence, and the ability to stand up to bullies. She shouldn't have to... but she will need to. 

Often, two wrongs don't make a right. However, when it comes to bullies, it's often best to give back what you get. Don't let them get the best of you. 

You have a few ways of dealing with it on your own.

1. Ignore it: Usually the best thing to do at first. Sometimes they're just looking to get a rise out of you, and having non-reaction puts them off balance. And in turn, they feel embarased for failing to land the insult. 

2. Verbal Comebacks: Even if she's not good at thinking on her feet, bullies usually stick to the same subject. It's not hard to predict what the likely insults will be, and have a prepared response. i.e. "Why are you doing (insert "manly" thing here), you should Get back in the kitchen"  Response: "If REAL men were doing (insert "manly" thing here), I wouldn't have to."  

There are two outcomes from here. Either (and most likely in the cases I've seen) the bully will respect that you can hold your own and any furth "bullying" will actually turn into a good nature tit-for-tat. Suprissingly, I've actually seen good relationships stem from this kind of interaction. And if the tit-for-tat crosses the line, and the bullied person calls them out on it, the former bully actually apologizes. 

But there is a chance that standing up for yourself will actualy spur them to keep trying until they "get you."

3. Pranks: Sometimes Actions speak louder than words. If you're not able to stand up to them face-to-face, look to your strengths. Your daughter is a tech wiz. It wouldn't be hard to tamper with the bully's station. You could do something small, like switch his desktop theme to all Bronies stuff, to photoshoping pics of him and one of his budies in comprimising positions and set it as his budies profile pic on his phone. 

 

Let me reitereate, no one should have to put up with bullying, but the reality is that it can't always be prevented. And in those cases, you need to be equiped with the confidence, and skill, to deal with it. 

 

 

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in a high school class you certainly can put a stop to it.  that is a total cop out..oh i o=couldn't stop it.  you're a freaked teacher..it is your job to not let it start period.. 

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Do you envision a Teacher standing at the front of a classroom, looking over all the students? That may be hapening for Part of the class, but in most classes, especially Tech classes, there is a lot of "It's not working, can you come look at this?". You Cant be wating all 30 students at all times. If no one speaks up (which the student,her mom, and even the counselor decided not to) how is he suposed to know it's going on? Because she's not smiling as much? Because she's not as enhtusiastice? There are 30 students to help, he doesn't have time to evaluate everyones emotions, and what they may entail. Hell, they're teenagers, half of them don't know why they're feeling what they feel. 

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Hi DraftingDave,

I'm glad you have thought of some solutions. I feel that they are very male solutions, though. In ignoring the situation, I can imagine males thinking that females don't care because they're ignore them and continuing the obnoxious behavior. With verbal comebacks, the female will then be labeled as a b!+@%. Pranks? Really? Sounds like encouraging hazing-like behavior. No one should have to pull pranks to prove their worth.

Also, to Rikki, I hope that you asked the teacher about the Visual Basic curriculum from the start. Perhaps the teacher hasn't kept up with tech for whatever reason. Maybe he just wasn't aware of the expanding online resources. Maybe, as others have suggested, he was required to teach that, in which case, whoever came up with that curriculum needs to be talked to. I feel that speaking up about this sad situation is important, and speaking up to the involved individuals is maybe even more important so that similar situations can be avoided in the future.

Just a few thoughts.

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They may be male orientated solutions, but they're solutions on ways to deal with Male bullies. And they're not the ONLY solutions, just ways if she wanted to handle them on her own.

To be honest, I don't know why the Mom didn't step in and talk to the teacher privately at the time. Of course it would go badly for her daughter if the Teacher talked to the boys after the fact (making it obvious she told on them). But it wouldn't be hard to explain the sensativity needed. Tell him that you don't want him to call out the students, and give them a talking to. But simply keep a better eye on the situation and step in when it hapens infront of him. It would look organic, and her daughter never has to speek up about them.

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Instead of teaching young women how to deal with male bullies, why don't you offer suggestions to teach young males not to BE bullies?

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DraftingDave,

What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Seriously though, you are offering to solve the problem by "returning the bullying."  Please, everyone teach your kids to be better than that.

Reading the original post, I sincerely felt sorry for the child and the author clearly cares about her child. 

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As I said in my post, those are SOME ways to deal with bullying on your own. And yes, standing up for yourself does solve the problem in many cases. I also said that most of the time, it's best to ignore it. But I guess my post was too "incoherent" for you to comprehend. 

However, now that the Author has provided us wiht the info in Update 2 , it is clear that the fault lies with the Teacher and Administration. I do still think the Author's letter was almost as rude and condecending as your post though. 

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I feel for you, and your daughter, I really do. And I don't want the way you wrote about the subject to overshadow the actual problem. But like Senorgravy, I had to bite down my frustration over your constant self boasting and your dedrigration of the teacher/curriculum just to get to the heart of the post. The way you wrote this letter enables the argument to quickly become about You and the Teacher, not about being bullied in class. I would expect better out of a journalist. 

On the subject: It is never ok for someone to be bullied in class, but it's also not reasonable to expect it to never hapen. She should not have to suck it up, and deal with it. But the reality is that sometimes, that's exactly what you have to do. There isn't always a easy answer. And often, getting a Authoritive figure involved makes things worse or the individual.

I think bringing it up to the Teacher after the fact is a great way to help to prevent it to hapening to another student. But in the mean time, try to equip your daughter with the confidence, and the ability to stand up to bullies. She shouldn't have to... but she will need to. 

Often, two wrongs don't make a right. However, when it comes to bullies, it's often best to give back what you get. Don't let them get the best of you. 

You have a few ways of dealing with it on your own.

1. Ignore it: Usually the best thing to do at first. Sometimes they're just looking to get a rise out of you, and having non-reaction puts them off balance. And in turn, they feel embarased for failing to land the insult. 

2. Verbal Comebacks: Even if she's not good at thinking on her feet, bullies usually stick to the same subject. It's not hard to predict what the likely insults will be, and have a prepared response. i.e. "Why are you doing (insert "manly" thing here), you should Get back in the kitchen"  Response: "If REAL men were doing (insert "manly" thing here), I wouldn't have to."  

There are two outcomes from here. Either (and most likely in the cases I've seen) the bully will respect that you can hold your own and any furth "bullying" will actually turn into a good nature tit-for-tat. Suprissingly, I've actually seen good relationships stem from this kind of interaction. And if the tit-for-tat crosses the line, and the bullied person calls them out on it, the former bully actually apologizes. 

But there is a chance that standing up for yourself will actualy spur them to keep trying until they "get you."

3. Pranks: Sometimes Actions speak louder than words. If you're not able to stand up to them face-to-face, look to your strengths. Your daughter is a tech wiz. It wouldn't be hard to tamper with the bully's station. You could do something small, like switch his desktop theme to all Bronies stuff, to photoshoping pics of him and one of his budies in comprimising positions and set it as his budies profile pic on his phone. 

 

Let me reitereate, no one should have to put up with bullying, but the reality is that it can't always be prevented. And in those cases, you need to be equiped with the confidence, and skill, to deal with it. 

 

 

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you missed the whole point by being all feaked out that someone did not like what a teacher taught.  the point is not your class is boring/outdated/etc..  it is you had a chance to encourage a girl and you blew it.  regardless of anything else..  that teacher blew a chance to encourage someone with talent..  and they had no control of their class.  that is the point.

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"it is you had a chance to encourage a girl and you blew it."  

Singiling out a student, due to gender, whether it be in a positive, or negative manner, is sexism.

However, if she was as tallented as her mom things she is, he did blow the oppertunity to advance a tallented student. But maybe, and this is just conjecture reading between the lines, it doesn't seem like her daughter really wants to code, it wasn't a passion of of hers, but the Mom's. Just because you're good at something, doesn't mean you love it.

It could of been her lack of enthusiasm that kept him from seeing her as a potentially great programmer. There could of been 3 (out of the 30) students who were only decent at coding, but really liked it. I would say they deserver more attention than her daughter did, for simply being female. And by attention, I mean taking an interest in furthering their edjucation outside of school, and trying to get them connections in the industry.

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If you read the background information, you'll see that her daughter WAS interested in programming.  It's not uncommon for women to shy away from something they really wanted to do because a male teacher showed disinterest.  When I was in high school, I wanted to be an architect.  I aced my Architecture I class and couldn't wait for the following year.  Until my teacher told the three girls in the class not to bother signing up for Architecture II; he refused to teach us. 

I was a shy 14-year-old.  I couldn't speak up for myself.  I was too embarrassed to tell my parents what happened until I was out of college and matured into a more confident woman.

Hindsight is 20/20.  I can imagine myself--at my current age--challenging my former teacher, but I couldn't have done it when I was younger.

Teachers are responsible for ensuring that all students are taught, regardless of sex.  But when the lack of women in STEM is a known industry- and education-wide problem, I would expect more attention to be paid to the young women.  Not in terms of anything special, mind you.  But making sure that they have the ability and the opportunity to learn in a harassment-free environment?  You betcha.

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Firstly: I notice that you more-or-less completely avoided the main thrust of the entire posting - that the teacher had utterly failed (or chose not) to notice that an outstanding pupil was being harassed into silence and disillusion, or failed to act on what he'd noticed. In either case, the teacher would have been failing to comply with his school's diversity and anti-bullying policies. That's a lot of failure summarised in two sentences, and one pupil's miserable school term. Rikki would have been within her rights to go directly to the Head Teacher's / Principal's office, and asked for the teacher's head on a pike, and I for one would not have stood in her way; actually, I'd have provided an honour guard.

Teaching is not just about inculcating facts, it's about nurture and development of the pupils, and Rikki's daughter's teacher abjectly failed in both - in fact, he managed to reverse her development in technical studies! There are no budget implications here, and overcrowding makes no difference to these ponits: if the class had been overcrowded, I suspect that Rikki would have made that point.

Stop trying to defend the indefensible.

Now, a few comments on the text of your post:

Tech Junkie's daughters - no need for capitals; either an apostrophe should have followed the 's' as you're making a general case about tech junkies (plural) and their children, or "tech junkie" should have been preceded by "a" to make it the singular case.
the powers that . be - strange additional punctuation.
Newsflash: Your not in Mountain View - capital letter not required following a colon; "you're", not "your".
Torvolds - should have been "Torvalds".
If you're in fact, so qualified - either missing a comma following "you're" ( introducing a comma-delimited parenthetic clause), or has a superfluous one following "fact".
[...] why don't you [...] go sub for a few days. - the sentence is a question, so should have been terminated by a query, not a full stop.

The teachers in my children's Primary School have a better command of written English. If you're a teacher, you're not an advertisement for the career.

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Firstly: I notice that you more-or-less completely avoided the main thrust of the entire posting - that the teacher had utterly failed (or chose not) to notice that an outstanding pupil was being harassed into silence and disillusion, or failed to act on what he'd noticed. In either case, the teacher would have been failing to comply with his school's diversity and anti-bullying policies. That's a lot of failure summarised in two sentences, and one pupil's miserable school term. Rikki would have been within her rights to go directly to the Head Teacher's / Principal's office, and asked for the teacher's head on a pike, and I for one would not have stood in her way; actually, I'd have provided an honour guard.

Teaching is not just about inculcating facts, it's about nurture and development of the pupils, and Rikki's daughter's teacher abjectly failed in both - in fact, he managed to reverse her development in technical studies! There are no budget implications here, and overcrowding makes no difference to these points: if the class had been overcrowded, I suspect that Rikki would have made that point.

Stop trying to defend the indefensible.

Now, a few comments on the text of your post:

Tech Junkie's daughters - no need for capitals; either an apostrophe should have followed the 's' as you're making a general case about tech junkies (plural) and their children, or "tech junkie" should have been preceded by "a" to make it the singular case.
the powers that . be - strange additional punctuation.
Newsflash: Your not in Mountain View - capital letter not required following a colon; "you're", not "your".
Torvolds - should have been "Torvalds".
If you're in fact, so qualified - either missing a comma following "you're" ( introducing a comma-delimited parenthetic clause), or has a superfluous one following "fact".
[...] why don't you [...] go sub for a few days. - the sentence is a question, so should have been terminated by a query, not a full stop.

Please promise me you teach Phys. Ed., and not literacy.

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Firstly: I notice that you more-or-less completely avoided the main thrust of the entire posting - that the teacher had utterly failed (or chose not) to notice that an outstanding pupil was being harassed into silence and disillusion, or failed to act on what he'd noticed. In either case, the teacher would have been failing to comply with his school's diversity and anti-bullying policies. That's a lot of failure summarised in two sentences, and one pupil's miserable school term. Rikki would have been within her rights to go directly to the Head Teacher's / Principal's office, and asked for the teacher's head on a pike, and I for one would not have stood in her way; actually, I'd have provided an honour guard.

Teaching is not just about inculcating facts, it's about nurture and development of the pupils, and Rikki's daughter's teacher abjectly failed in both - in fact, he managed to reverse her development in technical studies! There are no budget implications here, and overcrowding makes no difference to these points: if the class had been overcrowded, I suspect that Rikki would have made that point.

Stop trying to defend the indefensible.

Now, a few comments on the text of your post:

Tech Junkie's daughters - no need for capitals; either an apostrophe should have followed the 's' as you're making a general case about tech junkies (plural) and their children, or "tech junkie" should have been preceded by "a" to make it the singular case.
the powers that . be - strange additional punctuation.
Newsflash: Your not in Mountain View - capital letter not required following a colon; "you're", not "your".
Torvolds - should have been "Torvalds".
If you're in fact, so qualified - either missing a comma following "you're" ( introducing a comma-delimited parenthetic clause), or has a superfluous one following "fact".
[...] why don't you [...] go sub for a few days. - the sentence is a question, so should have been terminated by a query, not a full stop.

Please promise me you teach Phys. Ed., and not literacy.

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That teacher had control over whether harassment was going on in class. Don't make excuses.

Further, I do not accept that the author's argument is invalid because a certain number of slackers is to be expected, or because good teachers can't be bothered to work in urban school systems. Every teacher is supposed to at least *try* to be a good teacher. Don't talk about "know-it-all" parents, then equivocate about whether teachers should be advocates striving for excellence. We ask it of our students. We'd damn well better be leading by example. That's what this author is talking about. 

Also, if you're going to get all morally upright about judging teachers, please copyedit your posts. As a colleague, I'm embarrassed.

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We can make all the speculations we want, but we simply don't know how the class was set up. However, I'll let you know my experience with tech classes in High School. I feel fortunate enough to attend a high school that provided Mechanical Drafting, Architectural Drafting, and CAD classes. However, like many tech classes, they were combined in order to fill a classroom up to the 26-30 student requirement in order for the class to remain "efficient." In order to teach at least 2 of the subjects at a time, the class had 20 Drafting Tables in the main rectangular classroom, and 2 rows of 6 computer stations back-to-back in a smaller attached room. Mr. Davis was a great teacher, and I owe my current employment to what he taught me in class. However, I wouldn’t see him for two thirds of the class time. It is unreasonable to expect a Teacher in that situation to police all the students, all the time. He was a great teacher, and he wasn’t even able to watch us Most of the time. Back in our CAD corner, anything could of happened. It was up to us, as students, as young adults, to police ourselves. And if something came up, it was up to us to bring it up to him. Just like it is at Work, just like it is in Real Life. 

If her teacher saw something go on and did nothing about it, that’s one thing. But all of you expecting him to notice her withdrawing… seriously? But you know who did know what was going on and did nothing about it? Her own mother. 

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After reading Update 2, it does seem that the fault lies with the Teacher and the Administration. I'm suprised that non of that was meantioned in the letter, rather than all of the boasting and unnecessary pot shots. 

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Upfront disclaimer: I know that there are a lot of students today going to highschool but I believe that highschool will either change dramatically in the next 10-15 years, or parents will start putting their kids in different types of learning environments in a much greater way. It's already starting.

The type of teacher, the quality of the teacher generally that you are going to attract in public school systems these days, you aren't going to get someone who truely enjoys programing for the purpose of just playing around and writing software which makes some task more efficient. Most teachers who teach programming teach the language which they found to be easiest when they were in college, and are able to still remember how to do their basic logic statements. They tend to be math teachers, and the school decided to add an extra course and the only one who can remotely understand Comp Sci is the math geek. Their "heart & soul" is usually not in the material they are teaching, they may believe it is, but if it was, they probably would be writing code instead of teaching. Most of the comp-sci & I.T. courses I've taken in college were taught by people who were usually in the industry for many years, their "heart & soul" was in what they did for years, and then later decided to teach for what ever reason. It's better to learn from someone who is an expert in the field, than someone who reads a book which says this is how you teach. University work often times works this way, especially in community colleges.

As for being harassed, I'm really sorry to hear that. I think that your daughter should give programming another shot, but this time at a Community college or university level. Normally people take these courses because they want to improve their own skills, learning something new, or are majoring in the subject and are more focused on school than your typical Highschool student. In fact I'd argue that highschool is just a glorified baby sitter, and that someone who does well in high school setting does so regardless of the general stress it puts on a persons emotions.

I think you make one major general point, and that is the lower level learning institutions don't focus enough on modern technology. Because they are so focused on money, they are usually extremely out of date on the material that they can even teach. Their idea of fundamentals is to teach a student advanced concepts minus the application. As in teaching the students visual basic which is extremely out of date, especially if it's vb6, last update was like back in 2003 or something? The schools need more / bigger R.O.P(Regional Occupational Program). courses which tend to have people who are more-up-to-date on the current trends&technologies, and I believe these courses need to be more important in the general teaching of students since they offer "trades" to students which may help them one day make a career for themselves. R.O.P. courses focus on application of what is taught...

Anyways, just my 2 cents.

@Rikki Kite Just wanted to say I have a lot of respect for what you do. Hope your daughter is not too tramatized by a much of A-holes.

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I'm not a teacher but aren't you expected way too much from a (public?) school teacher? Their first responsibilities are that of a police-person to keep the children from overt violence and on school grounds (so the district gets paid).  Children are cruel: teachers can't respond to every instance of verbal and psychological abuse.  Your list is great but I don't see it falling within the purvue of the typical overworked underpaid educator.

Ultimately I hope your daughter will be able to recognize and deal with similar situations appropritely in the future. However they will probably never be as overt as you describe. High school is brutal.  

 

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The "first responsibility" of a high school teacher is to keep kids from committing violence against each other? Do you seriously believe that? Do you HONESTLY believe that (1) high school kids are so prone to physical violence that they need to be constantly overseen, and (2) that this is something to be accepted as normal?  Because if you believe those things, then you're part of the problem. 

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Thanks for this excellent article about a difficult subject. Truly sorry that your daughter had to go through this, and even more sorry it will probably not be the last time. Hope she tries again and gets a better environment/teacher at University. My daughter eventually became a CS major after a bad HS experience, but it wasn't until late in her Junior year she took another programming course and fell in love with it. She ended up shifting majors and going an extra couple years, but is now happy with what she's doing.

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I am sorry that I can not speak on behalf of the male population of programmers to apologise but I can not.
As A father I am appalled at the behaviour of these boys and would clip my son over the back of the head were he to do the same.
Geeks are usually socially inept (I know that is a generalisation) but having worked with many of them it's also largely true and especially in young boys.
Don't allow the inept to determine your path or allow them to have won in putting you off.
Your Mum is right, the teacher failed you and the boys were .... (well I am going to assume that if I swear this letter will be moderated).
This, of course, may be what your Mum wants and not your choice, in which case, choose your own life.
Sadly though this is a largely misogynistic society, so whatever your choice you will face this rubbish again. You will have to deal with it, so do so.
Choose your life's course and don't be deterred by other people's social ineptness, bullying or misogyny. It's your life not theirs.
You are stronger, choose to be.
Good luck and while you may or may not realise it, it looks like you have a pretty fabulous Mum.
regards,
John. (A older male member of the geek population)

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I am sorry that I can not speak on behalf of the male population of programmers to apologise but I can not.
As A father I am appalled at the behaviour of these boys and would clip my son over the back of the head were he to do the same.
Geeks are usually socially inept (I know that is a generalisation) but having worked with many of them it's also largely true and especially in young boys.
Don't allow the inept to determine your path or allow them to have won in putting you off.
Your Mum is right, the teacher failed you and the boys were .... (well I am going to assume that if I swear this letter will be moderated).
This, of course, may be what your Mum wants and not your choice, in which case, choose your own life.
Sadly though this is a largely misogynistic society, so whatever your choice you will face this rubbish again. You will have to deal with it, so do so.
Choose your life's course and don't be deterred by other people's social ineptness, bullying or misogyny. It's your life not theirs.
You are stronger, choose to be.
Good luck and while you may or may not realise it, it looks like you have a pretty fabulous Mum.
regards,
John. (A older male member of the geek population)

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I'm going to start by apologizing on behalf of the horrible students that were found in your daughter's programming class. As a male barely out of his teen years I will admit to having made some similar comments before (though not for a very long time and not I suspect anywhere near the amount your daughter received.) I'm not a programmer by any stretch but I do plan to begin a career in IT and I plan to do my very best to make it a safer and more inclusive environment for all.

 

Now, on to my main points. I suspect you might already be aware of these but I feel that it would be best if others were informed of it as well. For the most part I agree with your suggestions as far as they're possible. Asking a teacher to be more interesting with his or her curricula is often very difficult. They may have a district or state mandated curriculum that specifies what needs to be covered (eg. Visual Basic). Asking a counsellor poses it's own problems. Sometimes they may not be able to disclose to a teacher conversations they've had with a student without the student's consent. Teachers also see upwards of 150 kids per year. Would you be able to notice changes in highschoolers with only 2 or 3 hours a week with them? I'm not saying you can't but it's not always the simplest thing especially if you don't already have a good rapport with that student.

Anyway, I hope my rambling has made a bit of sense and I hope that we can all change the world of tech for the better.

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I'm sorry to hear about what happen with your daughter. I'm a programmer and a programming student and I would've glady stuck up for her. If she enjoyed the programming class outside of childish boys, I highly recommend her keeping up with programming.  It's sad that this shit still happens and I would prefer more women in the tech field. The god complex by some of the people I work with really gets old.

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Sad, disheartening and disgusting.

We know that the road to gender equality in our industry has to start in grade school. Clearly we have a very long way to go :-(

I hope your daughter will reconsider programming as a profession. I would love to introduce her to more programmers who also happen to be women, if it would help.

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I've got to say I was outraged by this is so many ways. First I want to say I can't believe this happened to you or your daughter but I believe I heard you tell most of the story about your daughter before at a convention and I was shocked but didn't know about your ordeal. This is exactly why I want more women in Tech. As you know when my 11yr old daughter spoke at WiAC I stuck around to hear some of the talks and was not shocked by this because I'm a black male. I was in a Pascal programming class in a culturally diverse high school and was the only black kid in the room. The same in college in a programming class in a very diverse college and was brushed off by a student that told me I wouldn't understand what they were doing because it was a programming class they were in. I tell my daughters these stories because I know how to laugh at idiots and have taught her the artform very well. To have to scold my daughter by saying, "and don't even THINK about hacking his account because you're mad at him" was such a good feeling but denies me the priviledge of smiling while saying opens a new era for me in a new form. Your daughter's courage to stay may make other girls stay. A black guy a year younger than me at that high school now works in Redmond at Microsoft.

This leads me to where you're wrong. "...but what teachers do has the potential to change the world. No article I write will ever do that, but the daughter I raise might." This is incorrect because I was told and always believed the world isn't changed by just the big things but the small things. I show my daughter at conventions that you and a couple other women are there and in this industry. Soon a class with no women will be like a town without a McDonalds. They're not elite just so unimportant that some of the important people don't find it interesting enough to invest the time.

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I completely agree that the situation you describe is a huge issue, and also that from the sounds of it, the teacher could have done much more (I.e. anything) to create a safe, egalitarian learning environment. But it's also important to address this as a systemic problem (unfortunately) that requires change on many levels. For example, your point #2 above, while important remediation for young males, seems like it would be really challenging for a young woman to hear and still choose to finish the class, unless done extremely deftly. And, jokes about the subject notwithstanding, in my experience, many computer scientists are not the most socially deft individuals. That is not to absolve this teacher, but to say that this is a problem that we as a society need to do more to address (I.e. educating young men to respect women, in tech and out), and that this blog piece is one starting point to chip away at a huge issue.

I guess what I'm rambling about is that while the teacher is complicit and could very well make a big difference by changing his practice, that there a much bigger villain, and that's a society/culture where this sort of thing is OK. So while I don't condone the teacher's obliviousness and inaction, I also think it's incumbent on us to demand better at all levels from policymakers, to superintendents, to principals, and so on to the individual teacher.

Respectfully yours,

Josh

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Do you really thing that "develop a phone app / Program a Raspberry Pi / Create a computer game" are things students, who may never have been have even been exposed to the basic concept of programming, should (or even could) start with? You think that C is the way to start learning basic programming concepts?

Do you realize that someone who has understood the concepts can easily switch to a different syntax? But if they never reach that point because they give up before that time then it's over. While an experienced programmer might appreciate C like syntax, a beginner will likely have an easier time with basic syntax. That is what it was designed for.

If the IL code of a C# program is identical to one created in equivalent Visual Basic syntax, is there really a good argument for recommending C# over VB for beginners? Again, that C# syntax is more commonly used is not a good argument because the syntax is not what matters. It's the basic and advanced concepts that matter.

In my opinion, for a beginner, a good IDE is very important, it should have fast and comprehensive auto complete and build in help. It should have a good easy to use GUI editor. I used to be a GTA for Java (basically left to fend for myself / had to actually teach the course). Trying to explain the static main with specific signature (and what all that means) is not a good starting point for beginners. Spending the entire first class to get a dos box that writes out “Hello World” is not very exciting. However, creating a form based project when you can just hit run and see the form and any components you just dragged onto it is, in my opinion, more rewarding and therefore more useful to the goal of teaching basics to beginners. Use events. Yes, events are easy to understand concepts, you click something, a certain region of code gets executed. You can use it to start with the basic code concepts (flow control statements, loops, operators, etc) inside events and even continue into explaining object oriented concepts (see that button is accessible as a variable of a certain type, that type has members you can use, see the auto complete, that is what you can use, see that color one? Yes you can use it to change the color).

On the other hand, have you ever tried to create or even just modify one of the iOS or ranspberry pi examples? Can you imagine doing that as a beginner to programming?

In any case, I’m sorry to hear that your daughter had a tough time in that class. I would imagine that the students that were making all the trouble were those that struggled and only took the class because someone told them it was good for them. Fortunately though, ‘these’ people usually don’t continue onafter beginner’s classes. If she takes higher level classes then I am sure that her experience would improve.

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@Fiacha --  I agree with you whole-heartedly. I taught Computer Technology for 15 years at a community college. For beginners, teaching concepts in a way that makes programming interesting and fun is really important. Before Visual Basic showed up in the early 90's, I taught Basic, Forth, C, and assembly language to students, many of whom had never programmed before. At some point I read an article about Visual Basic and checked it out. I had never seriously programmed in Windows before, although I had dabbled. I tried VB and loved it. Next, I worked on a VB project with some of my students and they were as enthusiastic about it as I was. Newbie programmers got immediate visual feedback about what they were doing. As a result they learned programming concepts more quickly than with the other languages I tried -- and they thoroughly enjoyed learning to program. Once they understood the basic concepts it was much easier for them to move on to other languages. 

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Let's say for a moment the choice of Visual Basic for a high school curriculum was somehow related to the point of the article. Assuming she is talking about Visual Basic 6 (and not Visual Basic .Net or VB Script), Visual Basic 6 is not an Object Oriented Program language. Object Oriented Programming is one of the fundamental concepts for even beginners to understand coming out of the gate. Set aside that Visual Basic 6 is also completely unsupported and deprecated, I suppose you could argue that students learn looping and conditional statements. But that's pretty much day 1. The rest of the course is learning bad practices. Programming has come a long way in 15 years. Educational institutions need to keep up. They aren't. And that's one of the reasons why it is so hard to find good programmers. Another reason is because roughly half the population is systemically bullied out of the career path.

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There are MANY better ways for a beginner to learn programming than to sit someone down for the first time in front of an IDE and a language like VB, C, .NET etc. The starting point is to open the student's eyes up to the world of possibilities as a programmer. Show where programming is going, not where it has been. Create a learning journey filled with accomplishments and experiences, not "first learn control structures. Now learn data structures. Now let's talk about execution time and Order N and pointers and oh god I hope my head explodes because that might wake me up."

My very first computer programming assignment was to write a machine vision algorithm... this was in 1992. The professors carefully crafted the exercise so that we "filled in some blanks" that were more about applying logic and algorithms than "coding". But my god, was that impactful as a student.

Likewise, with a little creativity there are amazing tools that exist today to show off the wonders of programming for any age... just because some of these are targeted at children doesn't mean they aren't good starting points for teens and adults:

- Lego Mindstorms - AI, sensors, lego robotics - based on 10 years of MIT Media Lab development and from a company that knows a lot about fun

- http://sketch.mit.edu - Drag and drop programming for kids

- http://ifttt.com - IFTTT can teach basic control flow and logic.

- as the author noted, Codeacademy has brilliantly designed modules to learn the basics of web2.0 programming and more

- Bitnami stacks are great ways to teach about the server environment in which many of today's programs run

As students get more sophisticated you can introduce things like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, the Unity engine for game development, etc.

For any "programming" teachers out there, please don't get lost in the weeds of language X vs language Y - just give students a chance to discover how powerful computers are and what happens when you learn how to tap into some of that power. Programming just is a way of telling a computer what to do. It's up to the programer to be able to imagine things that a computer COULD do if only it knew how...

 

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As sad as this is, it is not uncommon to happen. It starts to get common that teachers are simply overchallenged and can't handle what happens in class rooms. My dad is a teacher in germany and I think he actually does a pretty good job. I for myself am a guy who also always was on the side of being harassed so I know exactly how it feels. I wish your daughter good luck for the future and hope she can get the fun back in IT.

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So disappointing! I am 26 - and although I am a stay at home mum to my 2 babies now I hold a degree in software engineering and worked as a programmer for many years and LOVED it! We did not have any opportunity to do programming at school although we did have ... wait for it... typing at our all girls high school. There's really no excuse that your daughter was being bullied in class and the teacher was sitting by and letting it happen - I would be writing a formal complaint to the school (and I really hope you will deliver this letter to her teacher too in person). The teacher has failed your daughter and it's not good enough. I hope she hasn't been put off permanently, you never know a few years and the realisation that (at least for me anyway) University is much more enjoyable than school may change her mind into exploring it as an option. I was still endlessly mocked at university but at that stage of my life it didn't bother me in the slightest in fact I started to find it quite humourous when I realised that a lot of it was because they were threatened. It was a very rewarding career path for me! 

 

Laura (laurasaur.com)

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Well written and not un-common thing for a lot of females in IT endure at one time or another.

I have been actively working with the local schools, who have been really great about it. Luckily we also have a female Tech teacher which helps, and a male who supports encouraing females into IT. With both them trying and my input, we have now increased the amount of females in the IT class from nearly none, to almost 40%. We have a female robotics class, and a lot more willling to join now they see others in there.
It takes work, but its worth it, and its easy to make it fun and enjoyable. 

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Yes, I would be the same person that tweeted you.  The self identified guy geek.

I am so sorry for you and your daughter.  There should never be situations/behavior like that.  EVER.  When I was younger, I did an abysmal job fitting in anywhere.  When I discovered geekdom, I embraced it as it seemed to be a place where no one cared about you except for what you knew and could get done.  No worries about appearence or physical ability.  I jumped in headfirst.

I know it is little comfort for either of you, but, as a male geek, I am sorry those people that share a gender with me can act so horribly wrong and treat a fellow with such callousness.  This should never happen to anyone anywhere anytime.

Just let her know that not all of us are like that, nor will we ever be.  We relish diversity and different viewpoints.  Please don't let this abudant idiocy discourage her, if this is what she wants to do.  It can't rain every day...

(As I tend to deal with discomfort by using humor, please don't hate me for saying I am also sorry she had to learn using Visual Basic.  I doubt that trauma will ever leave her.)

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What a great letter - I hope the teacher reacted well and took each & every point on board?

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Ms Endsley,

A wonderful piece, and you said, "No article I write will ever do that, but the daughter I raise might." Actually, your article will change many more parents, teachers and more girls, positively towards programming.  Tell your daughter, that I (someone who has been doing programming for 30 years) feel proud of her accomplishments in programming for a 16 year old.  Tell your daughter,  programming is an ART, SCIENCE, CRAFT, and DISCIPLINE. Without her knowledge she acquired skills in all these, and she should continue taking more programming courses, for the same reason you ended with.  I wish you and her the very best.

--Srinivas

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Thank you for being a great parent who encouraged their daughter to go into programming. Though I am not a programmer, per se, it has always been an interest of mine and now I'm an Instructor in web design at a community college. My father always encouraged me (he is an engineer and took Fortran way back in the day) and it made all the difference. I am also now the founder of Women In Technology Hamilton, which not only helps women in the field, but encourages women outside the field of IT and computing so that it's not so scary. They in turn (we hope) will then encourage young women to pursue not only programming, but all fields in the IT sector. But it definitely starts with people such as yourself. Thank you once again.

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Hi. Some thoughts about your article. It seems that you daughter can not defend herself at all. What did she do in response to those phrases about kitchen and sandwiches? If she is so confident, and if she knows programming, why hasn't she suggested a competition to that boy for example - whoever is the last one to complete the next programming task of their teacher, makes a sandwich to a winner :) And if she's so good at programming as you say, she would win and make that boy respect her. And even if she would loose, the boys would respect her because some of them are definitely not so good as programming as she, and they would think twice before trying to pin up her next time. And what did you suggest her? To complain to the teacher? That would make her an outlaw in this class and the boys would never become her friends (as it happened after all). *Never* advise her to appeal to authorities! And never do it yourself. This is just stupid. She must learn to manage conflicts herself (and you too) and make friends instead of enemies. It seems like your daughter is trying to meet your criteria very diligently. If she was growing without a father, it is quite understandable, but you must give her more freedom. Stop sitting on her like a mother hen over an egg. She is 16 already, isn't she? Have you ever asked her what is she interested in? Is she really interested in programming, conferences, Linux, ARM development and all of that stuff? I'm not sure about that. From the article, it seems like it were you who really wanted to lead your daughter into the programming world. "...she took her first programming class. She knew I'd be thrilled, but she did it anyway.", "I'm adding this to my "parenting win" page in the baby book." - poor child. Sounds like she does everything to let you add something to your "parenting win" baby book (heck, what baby you are talking about - she is 16?!?!) Sounds like she had no another choice except that class. And as a (logical) result, she ended up being a foreigner to the environment, in which she found herself. And this is more of your fault than teacher's. Think about it. Thinking a bit more about that, it is *GOOD* that she failed at that class. Maybe this will make her to choose a better profession in her life - the profession that would make her more happy. In this case all of you whining is not worth a dime. On the other hand, if she's already good at programming and likes it (i do not exclude such a chance despite the previous paragraph!), she will not care too much about some not-so-clever old teacher and pair of stupid boys who are probably too young to judge other people. As a bottom line: stop complaining, learn to make friends instead of enemies, stop teaching teachers, teach your daughter to cook tasty sandwiches (she will need it after all), give her more freedom (stop treating her like a baby!), find yourself a man, live happily ever after. Thanks for reading.

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Yeah... that's exhibit 2, isn't it? 

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Hi, sorry, I don't understand what do you mean?

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Rikki,

I've been in tech all my life (more than 25 years now).  I'm a white guy holding a CTO position of a large, independent tech consulting company.  I have a number of female friends and co-workers in the tech industry and have heard similar stories from them with regard to demeaning comments and gender bias.

I consider myself to be very progressive especially because of my daughter.  This is her first year in high school and she has always been a very strong math and science student.  I suspect she would excel in the tech industry if that were where her passion lies, though she unfortunately could not be less interested in "computers".

As I was reading your story, I was hit with a revelation that startled me and I had to share it with you.

I was scanning Hacker News when I came across “To my daughter's high school programming teacher”.  As my daughter’s just starting out in high school, I decided to click the link. It was only half-way through that I realized that I had made a horrible assumption.  I assumed this was an article written by the father of said daughter.  It was then, at that moment, I realized it doesn’t matter how progressive I am, or how fair, gender-blind and unbiased I consider myself, I can still fall into those mental traps of gender stereotypes.

I apologize for my unfounded assumption and I thank you for sharing this.

 

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Rikki,

I've been in tech all my life (more than 25 years now).  I'm a white guy holding a CTO position of a large, independent tech consulting company.  I have a number of female friends and co-workers in the tech industry and have heard similar stories from them with regard to demeaning comments and gender bias.

I consider myself to be very progressive especially because of my daughter.  This is her first year in high school and she has always been a very strong math and science student.  I suspect she would excel in the tech industry if that were where her passion lies, though she unfortunately could not be less interested in "computers".

As I was reading your story, I was hit with a revelation that startled me and I had to share it with you.

I was scanning Hacker News when I came across “To my daughter's high school programming teacher”.  As my daughter’s just starting out in high school, I decided to click the link. It was only half-way through that I realized that I had made a horrible assumption.  I assumed this was an article written by the father of said daughter.  It was then, at that moment, I realized it doesn’t matter how progressive I am, or how fair, gender-blind and unbiased I consider myself, I can still fall into those mental traps of gender stereotypes.

I apologize for my unfounded assumption and I thank you for sharing this.

 

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Isn't it more common for fathers to defend their daughters, and for men, rather then women, be a techies? What are you apologizing for? Your brain just worked as it had to.