With only 18% of women earning computer science bachelor degrees in the US, there is a huge gender imbalance issue. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, 57% of women participate in the labor force (2017). 26% of women are employed in computer and mathematical occupations; 3% are African-American, 5% are Asian, and 1% are Hispanic.
African-American and Hispanic students are underrepresented in computer science and engineering programs, while Asian students are overrepresented, relative to their share of the population. There is a lack of exposure to computer science and engineering concepts in middle and high schools in underserved communities. African-Americans and Hispanics make up only 4% and 5% of the overall tech workforce.
The lack of technology education in K-12 schools has a significant impact on the workforce in the future. In 2020, it is estimated that there will be 1 million more computer science jobs than students. Along with the lack of exposure to the skills, there are also teachers and parents steering these students away from tech-focused classes and a general lack of awareness of potential careers in the field. Challenges with isolation, stereotyping, and confidence issues still remain with these individuals. If we can help change these dynamics, we can change the culture and climate of today's tech companies. Here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, there are many computer science and engineering type programs for students, but they are expensive and on the north side of the metroplex. Parents who can afford these classes are more likely to choose this field because of their built-in connections. For example, males have easy access to role models because their professors and people in the workforce look like them. With our experience being black women in the IT field, we have our own experiences of what happens when you are underrepresented. In a male-dominated field, you often feel disrespected or that no one listens to you. In some instances, you are sexually harassed and overlooked for promotions/management positions. These things can make you feel out of place and not confident in your abilities.
50% of children do not have internet access at home while the number from underserved schools is larger at 69%.
Only a few states require that all secondary schools "OFFER" computer science classes, but do not "REQUIRE" students to take them. Texas schools are required to offer them, but we do not have state funding to fund the programs. Our main focus is to peak students' interest to where they voluntarily choose to take these classes.
About 60% of classroom technology use is passive, such as watching videos or reading websites, while only 32% is active, such as coding, producing videos, or performing data analysis. It's time that we stop being USERS of technology and become CREATORS of technology.