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Google-Advised Disney Cartoon Aims To Convince Preschool Girls Coding's Cool 254

theodp writes: Cereal and fast food companies found cartoons an effective way to market to children. Google is apparently hoping to find the same, as it teams with Disney Junior on a cartoon to help solve its computer science "pipeline" problem. The LA Times reports the tech giant worked with the children's channel on the new animated preschool series Miles From Tomorrowland, in an effort to get kids — particularly girls — interested in computer science. The program, which premieres Friday, introduces the preschool crowd to Miles Callisto, a young space adventurer, and his family — big sister (and coder extraordinaire) Loretta and their scientist parents Phoebe and Leo. Google engineers served as consultants (YouTube video) on the show. "When we did our computer science research, we found the No. 2 reason why girls in particular are not pursuing it as a career is because their perception was fairly negative and they associated it as a field for boys," said Julie Ann Crommett, Google's program manager for computer science in media. Can't wait for the episode where Google and Disney conspire to suppress Loretta's wages!
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Google-Advised Disney Cartoon Aims To Convince Preschool Girls Coding's Cool

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  • by aaaa1111111111111 ( 3920497 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:00AM (#48998317)
    Design shit on an iPad and give it to the "boys" to knock out some C# modules to slurp back DB2 recordsets for your shitty app. You go girl.
    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:17AM (#48998461) Journal

      It's only because the book was misnamed. It should have been "Barbie MBA". Get other suckers to do all the work then take all the credit, with a side order of breaking stuff.

    • Design shit on an iPad and give it to the "boys" to knock out some C# modules to slurp back DB2 recordsets for your shitty app. You go girl.

      it's more likely this will confuse girls into thinking it's cool and then them following it for a while, as opposed to actually organically developing an interest in it.
      My mother was telling me I liked things that weren't true until I was 27 and figured out "mom, I don't like that. why do you keep saying that I do? I'm the expert on me, not you." If a grownup had told me I actually wanted to play with Barbies, so I should play with Barbies, I would have gotten really confused because I trusted them to not l

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think kids often don't really know what they like. My son has played a variety of sports -- soccer, baseball, basketball and football. Football he only played one season and halfway through that season he complained a lot -- was kind of afraid of the contact and it was "boring" (new kids without experience usually just play line positions, not ball-handling positions).

        Last fall, soccer and football seasons overlapped and he didn't know what to do. He was leaning towards football but we had to remind hi

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Kids have very limited experience of the world, since they have only lived for a few years. Part of education is giving them experience so that they can figure out what they like.

        • right. but they don't seem interested in giving experience, they seem more interested in shoveling children around to fit their cart-before-the-horse assumption that development teams would be 50/50 guys/girls if there were no stereotypes.

          that sort of shoveling is what confused me for so long-- lots of people I knew better than telling me they were an expert on what _I_ was feeling and experiencing, and discrediting _my_ subjective experience in order to fit _their_ agenda. They weren't bringing me any free

    • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @02:15PM (#49000257)

      If you have to convince a girl something is cool...it is not cool.

  • oh no (Score:5, Funny)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:08AM (#48998385)
    They can't even get basic computer use or hacking correct in a $200 million movie. How are they going to accurately represent software programming in a cartoon? The computer will probably beep every time she types like some 90's movie.
    • I always use:

      xset c 100

      BRB, for some reason my office mates are walking towards my desk with a baseball bat. I guess they want to play baseball?

    • They can't even get basic computer use or hacking correct in a $200 million movie. How are they going to accurately represent software programming in a cartoon? The computer will probably beep every time she types like some 90's movie.

      This is actually a job for a good Japanese animation/manga studio, not Disney. There is an entire Japanese manga/anime genre for doing that kind of stuff. Hikaru No Go [myanimelist.net] has inspired me to learn the game of go (although, I've only read the manga, I haven't watched the anime itself). Beck [myanimelist.net] has inspired me to learn to play the guitar. Beck is actually a great anime series (that is nothing like the feel-good oversimplified typical American cartoons/animated movies that we know Hollywood and Disney to produce).

      A

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:10AM (#48998393)

    Any industry White Males work in needs to be diversified.

    Presently 12% of men older than 45 in the US, by US Census data, have never married and will never have kids. 1955 - 1995 that was >5%. Demographic is half poor, half in the 80th percentile of wage earners.

    The trend is, about a third of Men in the US will never marry, never have kids; if you're in highschool in grade 8-12, chances are, one in three guys will never have kids or marry. Majority is white.

    Japan - same numbers, they're presently at 25% over 45 never married no kids, about 50% of men will never marry, never have kids.

    That doesn't include half of the children in this country are being raised without a father in home.

    Keep up the great diversification work, the last time we had this many men without families was the dark ages. As those men age, they realize they have nothing to lose. This creates instability, you are creating a demographic nightmare that will cause a lot of people to end up dead.

    • Yeah, all those elderly hooligans are such a menace, what with their muggings, their drive-by's, their suicide bombings, their oh wait, old people don't do those things. Old people with nothing to lose just die.

      Not that that would be a reason to ignore the problem except guess what? Women [ons.gov.uk] in the industrialized world aren't having children either. And guess what else? Some people don't want to have kids. Perhaps as many as 25%? Maybe more? Have you done a poll lately? Hint: No. This topic is very u

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      You don't say it specifically but this seems to be an argument for keeping women in the home and non-whites out if the workplace. If you meant to suggest a different solution please correct me, but that seems to be the logical conclusion from your argument.

      The problem in Japan is well understood and has nothing to do with diversity. Children are too expensive. Women are somewhat reluctant to have them because employers don't support mothers very well. Thus men and women don't see the point of marrying.

      The s

  • by colesw ( 951825 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:12AM (#48998407)
    From the short description of the show what I get is that the boy is the hero (of course), and the older sister will probably solve stuff for him, but he'll get all the credit (what hero doesn't?)
    • by hax4bux ( 209237 )

      Yes, very weak character/story development. And it promotes a lie: "science" might be cool, but I can assure you not one bit of my work week involves spaceships.

    • Well, still could work. But that's really rare. I could only quote two examples where the engeneer either is the hero (McGyver) or saves the day (Star trek. Usually by reversing some polarity...)

      But yeah, in all other shows the clever guy is usually the uncool nerd. (Riptide, anyone?)

    • Sounds pretty accurate. The engineer does all of the work, and the manager gets all of the credit.
  • Will they have the standard character stereotypes of the lovable, but well intentioned bumbling male paired with the more introverted, but take control female that seems to have permeated every other TV show?

  • by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:14AM (#48998437)

    You wanna know why programming is thought of as a field for boys? Because to be really good at programming takes an almost obsessive devotion to honing your craft at a young age, and girls are far too social to spend their summers in front of a computer in the basement.

    As a side note, this "everyone can code" stuff irritates the hell out of me. Yes, everyone can code just like everyone can play Chopsticks on the piano. But there's a world of difference between the coding that "everyone can do" and the kind of skill and breadth of knowledge required to land a job at Google.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Because to be really good at programming takes an almost obsessive devotion to honing your craft at a young age, and girls are far too social to spend their summers in front of a computer in the basement.

      Stereotype much? How about the programmers who only got their first access to a computer as adults? It's not like Woz or Jobs grew up with computers as kids ...

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        Jobs was never a programmer and Woz was involved in computers and electronics long before they met.

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        There's stereotyping, and there's statistical significance.

        One is reality regardless of whether or not you like it.

    • That, and the "Being social" thing is also heavily reinforced with targeted children's shows.

      There's a feedback loop between targeted television, and the biases those shows target. EG-- the marketing notion of "Girls are social! Let's make shows about girls being social, to target girls!" works-- and causes girls to relate being social with being a girl-- reinforcing the marketing ploy.

      It is this latter feedback that has had such a negative impact on (female participation in) computer culture since the 80s

  • Kids are going to feel disappointed and cheated when they realize programming isn't as quick, easy, and pretty like all the fun UIs in the show.

    The Featurette on youtube didn't show any actual coding. It showed a bunch of MEL that's generated as the artist used the GUI. I am 99.9% certain that the artist didn't create the character in MEL and instead used the modeler tool. There's nothing wrong with that, but if they wanted to talk about programming, they could have shown some of the cool Maya plugins PR

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:19AM (#48998487) Homepage

    we found the No. 2 reason why girls in particular are not pursuing it as a career is because their perception was fairly negative and they associated it as a field for boys

    Well, that's great, but if the No. 1 reason is that girls just aren't as interested in coding as boys (generally/on average) then how far are you going to get?

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:35AM (#48998601)

      Prior to the 1980s, the number of women working in computer science was about on par with the male demographic.

      What happened, was the introduction of the home computer, which was marketed as a boy's toy. Boys were encouraged to become computer experts early, girls were de-facto conditioned to believe that computing was for boys, and the demographic diverged splendidly.

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/money... [npr.org]

      It isn't that something biological in the female's brain makes them not as intrinsically interested in computers-- it is that culturally, we have conditioned them to stay away from computers.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:44AM (#48998685)

        If all boys were encouraged, why is it that only the nerdy/geeky boys really got into it ?

        • Because learning to use those old dinosaur computers was much harder than the point-click (or touchscreen) interfaces of today? To get good at it, you had to be dedicated, and most of the "Cool kids" had other things to be dedicated to, like playing sports?

          The argument's a red herring anyway. The argument is about the disparity between male and female participation, not on what segment of a single gender's demographic is "Nerdy" or not.

          Judging by historical statistical data, the "Nerdiness" factor is mostly

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Most of the programmers I know are not nerds. Most are just ordinary people who do it as a job, no more nerdy than other engineers or skilled clerical workers on average.

          It seems like in the US there is more of a divide between nerds and "jocks" or whatever you call them. It's not so polarised in Europe. Maybe that's part of the problem in the US. Programming isn't just for nerds, any more than video games are despite their image.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        Nice rewrite of what actually happened there but lets not let facts get in the way of your standard issue feminist argument.

        • The article cites at least some data.

          Your argument provides none.

          Could you please provide your data for analysis?

      • Prior to the 1980s, the number of women working in computer science was about on par with the male demographic.

        False. CS degrees for women peaked in the mid-80s around 35%. It has, however, decreased since then, to around 20%, and even as low as 12% at some schools. Any explanation is speculative, at best. Asserting that women are culturally conditioned to not be interested in computers, though, is actually pretty insulting. It's saying that they're not smart or strong enough to make their own decision

        • The implication of "Insult" is purely your own bias peeking through.

          People do make their own decisions, but they dont make those decisions in a vacuum. They make them based on their subjective experiences, and cultural emulation starts heavily in childhood.

          This is why highly religious families tend to have highly religious children, etc. It is also why propoganda works, and a number of other such fun things.

          Rather than "Being offended" by the statement, by trying to straw-man in some hidden message about h

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Well, that's great, but if the No. 1 reason is that girls just aren't as interested in coding as boys (generally/on average) then how far are you going to get?

      If 40% didn't do it for the no.1 reason and 30% didn't do it for the no.2 reason then you'd get 30% more.

      Stupid question, stupid answer.

  • by abies ( 607076 )

    Or an episode, where she sleeps with journalist to get better review for her application... after all, this is not something which should be ridiculed or condemned, right?

  • by nam37 ( 517083 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:32AM (#48998581) Homepage
    ...coding ISN'T cool. It can be fun, rewarding, and it can pay the bills, but there is very little that is cool about programming. If you have a group of people picking their future careers simply using the "is it cool" filter, then you can except to get very few programmers out of that group.
  • HOLYSHITFUCKIJUSTFIXEDTHEENTIREPROBLEMSWITH GIRLSANDCS! major idea bomb. so first observation, this goog initiative will fail, because kids don't want to be told what's cool. second observation, the secret to engaging with girls is through SMS. Subset observation, it blows me away that girls spend so much time on their phones because it looks like dorky boys with their faces in a game boy. conclusion. make a robot-style thing, like a roomba or something cutesy for kids. have somebody send controls to it by

  • So at what point does using kids shows to try to create interest in this topic cross the line from 'marketing' to 'targeted propaganda'?
    I'm all for more women in programming, but I think they should come to it on their own rather than be indoctrinated.

    Let people who love it do it, rather than creating more of the 'I don't like it but it pays well and I can always find a job' MCSEs of the 90s.

  • It would be about a little girl who can code, and has the superpower of not asking for a raise!

  • by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @11:52AM (#48998767)

    Have the cool kids be good at school
    Have kids be unashamed about doing well in school.
    If you must have a comic relief buffoon have him be good school
     
    Do not promote ignorance and or stupidity as a good thing.

    • So true. How many times have you heard someone say, "I have no life" when actually they've been spending their life doing what they like?

      Kid plays a musical instrument instead of partying: "I have no life."
      Kid programs on a computer instead of partying: "He has no life."
      Kid works hard and wins a golf tournament: "He must not have a very normal life, he works so hard."

      A huge secret: working hard at something you love is a way better life than partying all the time. Just ask Johnny Manziel.
  • by fightermagethief ( 3645291 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @12:01PM (#48998839)

    No one in the general populace thinks coding is cool or even has any idea what it entails. With niche hobbies/professions, anyone who has any proclivity for it will latch on to it the second they get wind that it even exists. You can't convince a someone to take an interest in something. What is the quote that appears on this site sometimes: "Some people have to be taught to paint, Michelangelo would have to be taught how not to."

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @12:05PM (#48998863)

    in the future, it will be done by 'cheap world labor'. ie, NOT YOU. I see every day in the bay area; there are so few americans doing software work in silicon valley, that you only have to connect the dots to see that this field is QUICKLY DRYING UP and won't be viable for US based folks (who want to be above poverty level) in the future.

    maybe 5 yrs, maybe 10 yrs. 20 yrs tops. it shows all signs of going to 3rd world countries who can 'think and work remotely'.

    thinking jobs (or IP jobs) just don't make sense locally anymore. companies don't want to pay (in their minds, 'overpay') and I don't see this trend reversing (how could it? we are greedy capitalists and don't care for our fellow locals; and so since cost is ALL that matters, it WON'T be done in the US anymore).

    so, putting your kids thru college for software? what a waste of time, money and disservice to THEM!

    I hate this. I spent my whole friggin life being good at software and gaining tons of (what I thought was) valuable experience. but its not valued! only 'time to market, speed and low cost' matters. quality is a has-been.

    sure, there are some counter examples, but being a bay area resident for over quarter of a century, I've seen this trend and its a very obvious clear trend to anyone who's been here long enough. there USED to be a good software job market here. now, its drying up and all you see in companies are h1b's! and soon, even those won't be viable anymore.

    please, see the writing on the wall. save your kids the upset and expense of going into a field that has, by the time they are ready for it, dried up.

    very sad. depressing. but lets be honest, here. we all see this, don't we?

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      >> in the future, it will be done by 'cheap world labor'. ie, NOT YOU.

      I call bullshit. I've worked in several comapnies that have each tried outsourcing software development projects and without exception they've ALL failed due to bad quailty. Thankfully many if not most US companies are finally deciding that outsourcing software development as a cost-cutting exercise just doesn't work.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @12:05PM (#48998867)

    It's 2015, and most of the egregious geek stereotypes have changed significantly. But, the development and IT industries are still very similar. Development is a very solitary experience, as is IT once you get out of run of the mill support. I know I've spent stretches of a few hours digging through log files, troubleshooting an intermittent problem, etc. by myself. Even with agile development, pair/team programming, and every other coding fad that makes people work together, there is a lot of time spent alone solving problems. I like doing this -- it fits my personality type. Do most women? Probably not; I'm guessing most would rather be in social situations. Do some? Sure, I've worked with a bunch.

    Being married to a female, and now having a daughter, I can safely say that men and women are very different creatures. I think women self-select out of IT and development mainly for the following reasons:
    - Perceived lack of socialization, and yes, the nerd stereotypes are still there to a lesser extent.
    - Especially in workplaces that suck, the work/life balance is screwed up. My wife and I both work, I'm in IT and she's got a corporate finance job. We are both incredibly lucky to have good employers who don't death-march us on a regular basis. I know many more people who don't have this luxury. If you're female, and are wired like most females, you will want to take care of your children more than spending extra hours at work. I feel that way too, and this is coming from someone who really loves my job and loves digging into strange problems.
    - Women are smart, and they see the writing on the wall for the IT/dev industry. Now that it's "easy" to program an application for a phone, and more aspects of systems management are automated, there will be an inevitable reduction in employment and salaries across the board. These days, you really have to be on top of your game to stay employed at the higher salaries, and be constantly learning. There are a lot of jobs that have less of the constant retraining, are more stable, and have a better balance.
    - Especially in the SV startup/web/social media sphere, the rise of the "asshole brogrammer" stereotype as evidenced by many stories all over the tech press might be scaring women away too. This is kind of the opposite end of the nerd spectrum -- now that development is open to more people, the more extroverted fratboy types who got through CS are founding startups and getting themselves into sexual harassment trouble.

    Do I think any of this encouragement works? Not really. I think what would work is to keep developing girls' logic, problem solving and math skills at an early age. Those who excel at these and can handle all the other crap that comes with an IT/dev job will gravitate toward it. Others won't, and we just have to live with that.

  • and I asked her how she felt about how there are few women coders, and surprisingly her answer was that she was happy with that because she enjoyed working with mostly men, because she "could avoid all the cattiness and emotional bullshit" and just concentrate on work.

    Maybe we should focus on recruiting just the lesbian part of the female workforce then? ;)

  • Seems to me that having the parents both be scientists defeats the purpose. If you want to appeal to most girls, I'd think you'd want to have a more "average" family, not show how daughter of scientists does sciency stuff. Maybe show how daughter of wage workers helps solve family/work problems by coding. For example, my first useful coding job was a score-keeping program for my mother so she didn't have to do it by hand for her entire bowling league.

  • To me the effort sounds pretty badly done, the female coder being in a secondary role? How is that supposed to convince anyone coding is cool? It seems more like a prep job for a life where you are a mad coder - who has to work for Miles clones running the actual business. Thanks for the indoctrination video Google!

    I say that as someone who thinks that solving the problem of too few women interested in computer work being the real issue that needs fixing. I don't see this helping in any way.

    Young girls

  • And provide a little training to experienced programmers who want to learn new skills. Their faux shortage of experienced, competent programming staff would disappear in a year.

    Of course, this is beyond the comprehension of a newly minted MBA or HR director. They want money-saving flashy miracles that will get them their next bonus in the next quarter, before they move on to avoid the next re-org. Solving problems is irrelevant - to be avoided if it interferes with the next crazy bonus scheme and all of its

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