Gender and Computer Science

By Sean Cavanagh — October 01, 2008 1 min read
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Why are more minorities not pursuing undergraduate and advanced degrees in computer science?

A new book examines that question and finds that the answer can be traced to a number of factors in K-12 systems, including high school course offerings, access to counseling, the influence of teachers, and students’ beliefs about their own abilities.

“Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing” by UCLA Senior Researcher Jane Margolis, was published by the MIT Press last month. The book focuses in part on the experiences of students and teachers in three public high schools in Los Angeles, including an overcrowded urban high school, a math and science magnet school, and a well-funded school in an affluent neighborhood.

The book says that the number of African-American and Latino students receiving computer- science degrees is “disproportionately low.” The proportion of students in those groups receiving science and engineering degrees has risen over the past two decades, according to federal estimates I looked this up (in the report “Science and Engineering Indicators, 2008,” published by the National Science Board) though it appears those students’ overall numbers as a percentage of the population remains small.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.