Are You Teaching Your Daughter to Wait for Her Geek?

Education Geek Culture Technology Videogames
Image: Pascal via Flickr
Image: Pascal via Flickr

I opened the Lego Wedo program and stared at the blank white screen.

“This isn’t what it’s supposed to look like,” I explained to the principal. I was in her office, planning Hour of Code for December. We were planning to use the Lego Wedo set with the kindergarten and first graders. They’d build Lego robots and then program them to talk and move.

I tried closing and opening the program again, the equivalent of the Fonzie jukebox punch, but the screen remained white. Much to my relief, the principal suggested that we pull my son out of class to fix it for us. I would have never suggested it myself, but I had secretly been hoping that someone would come along and solve this problem for me.

He popped into the office, took a look at the laptop, and informed me that either Flash was interfering with the program, or more likely, I had outdated software since I had only upgraded it on the Mac. Then he took his chipper little self back to third grade reading.

At home, I left the number for tech support up on my computer for days. Okay, weeks. I knew I had to call tech support in order to get the software upgrade sent to me, but it seemed like an overwhelming task in comparison to simple-for-me activities such as cooking or writing. It would mean uninstalling a program and reinstalling the new one.  Fine, not a big task in the grand scheme of things, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with it.

As I was brushing my teeth one morning, I realized what I was doing. I was waiting — like Snow White and her prince — for my geek to come.

My subconscious game plan was to leave this task until last minute and then ask my husband to take care of it. It’s a strategy that has worked well for me in the past. I often hand over pieces of technology to Josh and say, “please fix this” even though he technically has less technological knowledge than I do. What he lacks in capabilities he makes up for with confidence and a willingness to try things out until he figures out what works.

Once I realized that’s what I was doing, I sucked it up and dialed Lego’s tech support number. Within fifteen minutes, we had uninstalled and reinstalled the new software. Easy peasy with the guy’s instructions over the phone; not really something I should have dragged my heels on for weeks.

There are plenty of other places in life that have higher stakes where I’m willing to jump in feet first and take a chance. Parenting comes to mind. I rarely question my parenting choices or drag my heels despite not having any special child development knowledge. I don’t think twice before playing with recipes despite having no culinary training. There are too many places in life where I don’t wait for someone else to come along and do things for me including home repair. I am more comfortable charging ahead with redoing our bathroom on my own than I am calling Lego Wedo support. What about technology makes me so nervous?

Is it because until recent years, girls weren’t encouraged to engage in the STEM fields so we got the message that we should look but not touch (and certainly not do anything as hands-on as actually taking care of our own computers)? Or is it that technology is actually more difficult than raising human beings or creating a new recipe from scratch? Uh… no.

But now that I’ve identified the problem, there is no way in hell that I’m going to let my daughter grow up waiting for her geek to come. I’ve taken out the snap circuits and we’re starting there; teaching ourselves tiny projects from the booklet. It’s right on par with our lack of technological knowledge, and it’s a good starting place to build from; getting comfortable with sticking our hands amongst wires and switches. When we realize that we haven’t electrocuted ourselves (can one electrocute themselves with snap circuits? I’m not entirely sure), we’ll move on to more difficult things until the day when we’re soldering our own motherboards.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Are you inadvertently reinforcing the idea that your daughter should wait for her geek to come, or do you do just as many technological projects with daughters as you would with sons?

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3 thoughts on “Are You Teaching Your Daughter to Wait for Her Geek?

  1. Nice post, Melissa. I think you hit it on the head… in the past (50s to 80s… maybe 90s?), technology was considered a “boy” thing. Thankfully this mindset is disappearing. I worked with a number of gifted colleagues in my early days in IT, and quite a few of them were women. Same with my engineering program — about 1/3 of the class were female. We’re getting there, and I think you’re on the right track to be proactive and get your daughter solving her own issues.

    BTW, this entire issue could fill the pages of a book 🙂 Just sayin’…

    1. Absolutely. I know that I was “counseled” by my guidance counselor away from the science classes I wanted to take.

      Not repeating that with this next generation.

  2. Nope, we won’t be waiting for anyone’s geek to arrive! LOL Our Lego Wedo set arrived yesterday and dad’s electronics learning lab is ready for experimenting. We’ve been to radio shack in search of battery harnesses with lead wires so we can play along with our Hands-On science program too. Although, in fairness, dad’s going to teach both girls to change their own oil and tires – so they won’t have to wait on a mechanic either. 😉

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