HOW TO HELP UNDERREPRESENTED YOUNG PEOPLE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE FEEL SUCCESSFUL
Education Development Center (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In the US, tech companies’ commitment to equity when it comes to Blacks, Hispanics and women has been in question for in the United States decades. These companies often cite that the reason for their shortcomings has to do with a shortage of the number of qualified candidates in the computer science education pipeline. Recent statistics have shown that although these groups’ graduation rates in computer science-related programs have increased over the 15 years, they still remained underrepresented in the tech field as compared to their white, Asian and male counterparts. Further, the tech education pipeline is leaky, so even fewer minorities and women actually work in the tech sector as compared to their white, Asian and male counterparts. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are will not be enough people prepared for computer science-related jobs as there are jobs available in the future, so this is an urgent need we must address.
This issue further contributes to an economic disparity between those that do go into computer science and those that do not. A 2016 New York Times article illustrated the leak in the pipeline is due to minority and female computer science graduates being less likely to enter the tech world than their white, Asian and male counterparts, choosing rather to go into tech support or business. Thus, making it more likely for minorities and female computer science graduates who do enter the tech world to have lower paying tech jobs.
One Tech company has developed a computer science program designed to teach computer science skills to traditionally underrepresented groups in tech. During the program, students learn more than just how to code, however. The program has set out to help the students expand their “tech social capital.” Tech social capital is the interrelationships, shared knowledge, values, and language of people who work in tech spaces which in turn promotes young people’s ability to work effectively, creating innovative technology that fosters and advances the needs of society. Students in this innovative program are also mentored by employee volunteers who not only introduce students to the world of tech but also come to get to know them as individuals who can do computer science, in turn contributing to the students’ identity as computer scientists. It is the tech company’s hope that this dynamic relationship broadens access to computer science-related jobs for underrepresented groups in tech. During interviews with students in the program, we asked them about what helps them to feel successful at the program. We also asked the students’ instructors how they work to help make students feel successful. We propose to analyze and present the very strategies that we have found effective that instructors use to help these underrepresented students feel successful and confident in computer science.
Keywords: Computer Science, Black & Hispanics in Computer Science, Women in Computer Science, Diversity in Computer Science, Underrepresented in Computer science.