T.H.E. Journal, December 1998, p.47


A reference librarian and coordinator of the Youth Enrichment Partnership program at Penn State Lehigh Valley shares the experiences she had in starting an after-school computer club for a group of fifth grade girls in a poor, technology-deprived elementary school in Allentown, Pa.

The club, called the Cyber Sisters Club, was specifically designed to introduce girls from low-income backgrounds to technology, since many studies have shown that this group is the least likely to develop positive attitudes towards technology and acquire technology skills.

At the club’s weekly meetings at a Penn State computer lab, the girls were mentored by women who hold technology-related jobs at the school. The girls began by learning the basics of surfing the net, and then moved to bookmarking sites and developing personal Web pages off a template they were provided.

The goal was to teach these skills in a “girl friendly” environment. For instance, emphasis was placed on activities that require cooperation and collaboration. Because girls have been found to embrace technology when they see it relating to their interests, they were directed to Web sites featuring their favorite musicians and movie stars.

To bolster the girls’ feelings of success, the staff added new skills slowly and worked to minimize technical difficulties.