But What About . . . ?
Why haven't we mentioned math requirements for computing, or easy-to-use programming tools like Alice and Scratch, or girl-friendly robotics clubs yet? These are standard recruitment tools, aren't they? Although they can be great ways to get girls deeper into computing, they're not the best way to inspire those who may not already be inclined to consider the field in the first place. Introduce girls to the why of computing before explaining the how.
Math and logic are of course key to computing. But they're not persuasive recruiting messages. Once you've shared the creative, relevant, and collaborative nature of computing with girls and excited them about the field, then it's time to talk about the skills they'll need.
Think about it—doctors don't walk into a classroom asking, "Who wants to take organic chemistry?" They talk about medicine being a helping profession. Girls aren't shying away from the work of becoming medical doctors because it's too hard. They're sticking with it because they have a clear picture of what they can do with those skills at the end. We need to help them develop that same understanding about computing.
Scratch or Alice?
The same approach goes for activities that focus on fun and easy-to-use programs like Scratch, Alice, or other teen-friendly technology tools. Get girls interested in the why of computing before you ask them to create an avatar that can dance across a screen. Let them know why people do programming in the first place—to create fashion design software, develop interactive spelling games for first graders, or design software that helps people who are blind. For a good selection of fun, hands-on technology tools especially for girls, see "Fun Stuff to Try" in Become a Dot Diva.
Robotics is exciting to a certain number of girls, but what about the ones for whom this isn't a gateway into computing? Why would a girl care to spend a weekend or a semester assembling spare parts to create a robot that can walk to the end of the room and turn right? But robotics might seem far more meaningful if she knew you could create a musical robot that plays duets, or one that carries out dangerous missions like bomb detection.
Why before How
Talk about the why of computing before you introduce girls to the how. They'll be much more motivated to explore the process of computing once they understand how relevant it is in our world.