When Girls Code Without Boys: A Qualitative Study of Young Women's Experiences Programming

Stockholm University graduates examined the experiences of eight imagiGirls for their Bachelor's thesis.

They found four main reasons why users find coding with imagiLabs appealing:

1. Women are excluded from the tech world
The imagiGirls experience that women are excluded from technology. They feel that there is a public perception that boys have more technical skills. As a consequence of that, the girls experience a sense of exclusion. This leads to a desire for inclusion, and imagiLabs provides a space where they can feel included in the technical world.


2. The desire to empower other girls through technology
As a result of the technical exclusion, some strive to empower other women within technology. There is also a desire to contribute to gender equality at a societal level. To achieve this, the girls want to enter the technical field. They particularly feel the need to engage in programming without the presence of boys. They experience that when tech is targeted towards both boys and girls, it’s the boys that take up space. Thus, they are attracted to join a community for girls. imagiLabs provides a safe space to learn coding together with other like minded girls. It also brings them a sense of community which makes them feel empowered.


3. The users are technology-oriented
The reason they chose to engage in imagiLabs is tightly connected to their technical background. Many of the imagiGirls have previous relevant interests or tech-oriented family members. They also have ambitions to work with tech in the future. In addition, there is a connection between their interest in math and their curiosity for programming. Since math is something they find joyful, programming becomes a rather natural step for them.


4. Coding in imagiLabs fits the target group perfectly
The girls experience programming in the imagiLabs community to be engaging, creative, and non-intimidating. The programming in imagiLabs is therefore considered to be adapted to the target group. The imagiGirls find coding in imagiLabs fun, playful, and creative. Since the coding is playful and performed on their phone, they experience the coding to be effortless and non-intimidating. At the same time, they emphasize that coding in imagiLabs is challenging. Since there is a lot of work behind every project, the result is perceived as a rewarding experience.

 

You are invited to read the researchers' thesis (in Swedish):

A big thanks to Jennifer and Isabelle for presenting their findings to the entire imagiLabs team!

Summaries in English and thesis provided by Isabelle Hultfelt and Jennifer Jerlin. Post edited by Nadia Garfunkel.  

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