Let’s reboot, Code Babes
The digital learning environment is ripe for new approaches to learning. Education must change, and we need people to challenge the status quo. At a time when we need more computer scientists, technologists, and engineers, fresh approaches to learning and innovative ways of motivating students is a key imperative of our time.
Code Babes is a team of five women programmers and entrepreneurs. How refreshing it is to see a tech company that has more than one woman on the lead team! But when I look at what they’ve done, I can’t help but think they could have achieved the same thing without the hypersexualization of women via strip tease instruction, and crude language and innuendo. (I am actually assuming that The Code Babes are the entrepreneurs driving the site.)
“We’ve developed a revolutionary learning program that leverages sexual desire and turns it into the most powerful learning mechanism ever know to mankind. Watch the lesson, absorb the info, take a quiz, and your instructor removes a piece of clothing.” – TheCodeBabes
Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the tech fields, and the reason is not because women aren’t good at tech! Females achieve in math and science on par and often better than males in K-12, but they are not readily choosing careers in STEM, and these careers are in demand! Females receive cues from early on that math, science, and tech are gendered – and more appropriate for males. (NOT TRUE!) These messages come from deeply rooted implicit biases that exist in our culture, and become stereotypes. From this, micro messages occur and accumulate over time, and impact female self-efficacy and ultimately their behavior.  (Like not choosing STEM careers when they are prepared to do so!) The messages over time convince them they aren’t interested in STEM, when likely they might be. The androcentric environment of tech and engineering continue to exclude women, or at a minimum create a climate that is difficult to endure for most.
What the Code Babes have done is entrepreneurial, no doubt. They are tapping into a market, and meeting a need. But it is done so at the expense of and exclusion of women. At a time when we are working so hard to increase the participation of women in STEM, hyper-sexualizing computer science education perpetuates the idea that women don’t belong at the tech table based on merit alone.
To the Code Babes: I wish you lots of success, and hope you reach your goals. But just know, you could have done it with your clothes on. After all, so many young girls need great role models in STEM, and we want to show them that their intelligence is more important than their figure. I challenge you to reboot, and try again.
 Check out NAPE’s Micromessaging to Reach and Teach Every Student™—a high-quality, research-based, educator professional development program to address gender- and culturally based implicit biases that occur in the classroom and that are manifested through “micromessages.” This unique program provides participants with an awareness of the power of micromessages, which include looks, gestures, tone of voice, or the framing of feedback that subtly yet powerfully shape our culture, our classrooms, and the individuals within them.