Posted: Tue, 05/17/2022 - 4:38 pm EDT
How can organizations help promote inclusion, access, and diversity in our computer science classrooms?
We know that computer science is used to help solve problems even if the problems don’t yet exist. Sometimes initial problems cannot be solved unless we first ask additional questions. For example, before we answer the question, “How do we promote inclusion, access and diversity in our computer science classrooms?,” we must first ask and answer the following questions:
- Who has access to CS in our community?
- What are the demographics of our CS classrooms?
- Who feels included in those classrooms, i.e., who belongs?
These are the same questions that I ask myself each and every time I think or write about equity in computer science classrooms.
Computer science educators know that recruiting a certain demographic of students into our computer science classrooms can be challenging. As educators, we also acknowledge the shortage of girls and marginalized students in our classrooms. This system disparity often traces back to an equity issue in college computer science enrollment and then further to a shortage of women and minorities employed in the computer science jobs.
How can we disrupt these inequities? What are some strategies you can use to recruit marginalized students? How do you decide what students belong in your computer science classrooms? Do you reach out directly to recruit students or do you share posters, videos, handouts to help recruit students in your computer science classrooms?
There are resources to inspire girls to enroll in computer science as well as many other resources that inspire and empower. Code.org shares 5 different strategies to recruit students into our computer science classrooms.
- Reach out to students personally.
- Show them how much fun they'll have in your class.
- Enlist the help of counselors and parents.
- Run an Hour of Code.
- Decorate with inspiring posters!
Once you get students into your computer science classrooms and they are inspired to go to the next level in learning about computer science, then what? What is the next level? The next level is usually applying for colleges and or universities, but do inequalities still exist? Of course, they do!
There is a lot of literature on how educational institutions should prepare and make students college-ready. There are also studies that go into depth about what it means to be college-ready. These studies describe the knowledge and skills students need in order to enroll and succeed without remediation in a college course. What many of these articles fail to point out is there is an equity issue with even applying to get into college. A student can be at the top of his or her class and meet the knowledge and skills component of being college-ready, but does not have the financial means to even complete the college or university application.
There are many organizations that exist to help students with knowledge and skills, as well as financial help, so that they are empowered to not only apply to college and major in computer science or any other field, but to go on to be productive members of our society.
Below are resources that include out-of-school-time organizations impacting equality in STEM as well as gender- and minority-specific computer science organizations. These organizations promote, empower, and help students seeking to go to college or to learn more about computer science.
Black Girls CODE: www.blackgirlscode.org
Black Girls CODE is devoted to showing the world that black girls can code, and do so much more. By reaching out to the community through workshops and after school programs, Black Girls CODE introduces computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails.
Girls Who Code: https://girlswhocode.com/
Girls Who Code was founded with a single mission: To close the gender gap in technology. They accomplish this through their Clubs Programs for grades 3-12, College and Career Programs aimed at college-aged students and early career professionals from ages 18-25, Summer programs for rising 10-12 graders, and free Code At Home activities.
Latina Girls Code: http://latinagirlscode.org/
The mission of Latina Girls Code (LGC) is to provide technology instruction and resources for girls ages 7-17 of Latina descent. LGC is a program created to fill the diversity gap between girls who are interested in technology through education and resources. LGC provides mentors, access to hardware and digital tools as well as internships through various programs and events throughout the year.
All Star Code: http://www.allstarcode.org/
All Star Code is a nonprofit computer science education organization focused on motivated Black and Latino young men. Through its programs, All Star Code aims to teach bright young minds to transform into a force to shape the world and code the future they want to see.
This list small compared to all the organizations that can empower students to continue their learning journey in computer science. Do you know other organizations to add to our list? Reply in the "Comments" section of this blog with your additions.
CS for All Teachers Community Ambassador Vanessa Jones is a Technology Design Specialist for the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas. She is also a CSTA 2021-2022 Equity Fellow and facilitates Code.org's CS Fundamentals and CS Discoveries programs. In addition, Vanessa is an online facilitator and course designer for the University of Texas at Austin’s Strategies for Effective and Inclusive Computer Science Teaching (SciPs) course.