Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Labor, Play, and Futurity of the Twenty-First Century Girl Coder

Knotts, Brittney (2022) Labor, Play, and Futurity of the Twenty-First Century Girl Coder. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

This is the latest version of this item.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Beginning in the second decade of the twenty-first century, computer coding for girls became a cultural imperative in the United States. Computer coding books, shows, educational initiatives, websites, and toys marketed toward girls proliferated, offering a variety of ways to take part in the movement. This dissertation explores both the rhetorical creation of the coding girl in the United States in the twenty-first century as well as the creative acts and educational theories of actual girl coders. My research argues for understanding girls’ educational coding performances as labor, and it asks why girls choose to invest in this labor beyond the promise of becoming future neoliberal working subjects. In addition, it destabilizes the connection between “girl” and “coder,” interrogating what happens in educational systems where time is limited, the future is always looming, and students refuse feminist or economic narratives. This research recognizes girls coding culture as a key site of crystallization of twenty-first century neoliberal transformations in economics, feminism, and education. Methodologically, I balance rhetorical and textual analysis with a year-long ethnographic study. The first half of the dissertation engages in rhetorical analysis of coding artifacts, namely organization websites, books, and television shows. The second half moves into ethnographic accounts of real middle school girls and their experiences in girls-only coding environments.
I have found that while national rhetorics of computer coding for girls place the stakes in economic gain and feminist empowerment, the reality of computer coding in schools is often met with a lack of in-school instructional time as well as by girls’ absence of interest in computer science as a career path. Instead, they find joy in minute moments of weird sounds, programmed jokes, and incomplete and imperfect projects. Some girls refuse to buy into the hype of computer coding altogether. This dissertation explores those moments and places them in conversation and tension with cultural narratives.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Knotts, Brittneybrk85@pitt.edubrk850000-0001-7408-7311
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBickford, Tylerbickford@pitt.edu0000-0002-9388-4559
Committee MemberVee, Annetteanettevee@pitt.edu0000-0003-2975-4466
Committee MemberPitts,
Committee MemberKubis,
Committee MemberBak,
Date: 12 October 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 May 2022
Approval Date: 12 October 2022
Submission Date: 8 July 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 203
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: computer programming; girlhood; bedroom culture; economic feminism; feminism; computer coding
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 14:53
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 14:53

Available Versions of this Item


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item