Session 2: Communication Skills

Today’s session was focused on communication skills. Communication is fundamental for us to not only express our interests and aspirations but also to help foster healthy relationships, which is next week’s topic. It’s been shown that level of educational aspirations and attainment is positively related to consistent communication with a close support network (Smith-Maddox, 1999).

We completed several activities to distinguish the different types of communication and how listening is a crucial aspect of effective communication as well. We identified which type of communicators we felt we were such as thoughtful/analytical versus straightforward/direct and an important observation one of the young women made was that it really depends on the context and our relationship with those we are talking to and that we don’t neatly fall into one category over another. We also went through a list of “communication shut-downs” that work to shut off lines of communication. We discussed our own experiences with these and the repercussions associated with shutting off communication with one another.

One key take-away from this session was learning that drawing boundaries is particularly important in our everyday lives and how women struggle with this more than our male counterparts in professional contexts. This has wider connections with technology-related fields more generally making it all the more relevant for our Go Girls. Hopefully, by learning the different ways to communicate and how the importance of developing these skills helps us foster healthier relationships, our Go Girls will have the positive impact on educational attainment shown in previous research.

Smith-Maddox, R. (1999). The social networks and resources of African American eighth graders: Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. Adolescence, 34, 169–183

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Session 1: Values and Aspirations


We’re officially underway with the first phase of our project, which is dedicated to learning about each other and our values and aspirations. We had our first meeting since returning from summer holiday just last week. During the session we did various activities geared toward understanding the difference between intrinsic and monetary values. We each made our own “values poster” {see pictures below} where we listed what was valuable to us. Common themes were friendship, fairness, kindness, and family. We also went through envelopes of prewritten values and aspirations such as “being successful in sports” and “having a dependable friend” and ranked them from most important to least important. These were useful exercises that helped us to reflect on what was important in our own lives, which can be used to help guide and understand our aspirations. This week we are going to continue with the aspirations focus by filling out some aspiration surveys and discussing with one another. The rest of the month is dedicated to self-awareness and life skills before we move on to the next phases, which have a technology focus and give the young women opportunities to be creative with digital technology by creating videos with their smartphones. We’re currently seeking more young women to join the team and are actively reaching out to our wider networks to encourage more participants.


Identifying values in our lives


Ideas of life skills and topics to cover in phase one

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go_girl: code+create workshop at Said Business School for IT Staff

Niall Winters introducing the go_girl project in a workshop at the Said Business School to IT Staff at the University of Oxford.

IMG_3448 IMG_3449

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Introducing go_girl: code+create

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.19.50go_girl: code+create is a project at the Department of Education, University of Oxford, jointly run by Niall Winters and Anne Geniets. In line with Oxford’s targets in its Access Agreement with the Office for Fair Access, this interdisciplinary project complements existing programmes aimed at widening access (for example: UNIQ and Learning centre), but tackles the problem in a fundamentally new way using technology. For details about the project, please see the “About the Project” link, and also see our outline on the Department of Education’s Learning and New Technologies Research Group Blog.

This research is supported by the University of Oxford IT Innovation Seed Fund.

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