The race and gender gaps in the computer science space is very real. It is a complex and longstanding problem with no one-size-fits-all solution. The problem is that underrepresented groups such as female students, black students, and Hispanic students each face very different barriers to entry into the computer science space.
It probably goes without saying that the most prevalent group in the coding and computer science space is made of up white males. There may be many reasons for this. About 68% of white students report having access to a computer at home most days of the week, whereas only 58% of black students and 50% of Hispanic students report having that same access (Gallup). Black students are also less likely to have access to computer science classes in school. However, when asked, these black students were 1.5 times more interested in studying computer science than their white peers. Of the underrepresented groups surveyed, Hispanic students showed the most interest in computer classes, showing 1.7 times more interest than their white peers. (USA Today).
It’s possible that male students are more likely to be encouraged to study computer science than their female counterparts. Only 39% of girls are told by parents and teachers that they would be good at computer science, while 56% of boys report being told that they have a future in technology (USA Today).
Statistics on the diversity gap in tech are as easy to find as they are endless. So now that we’ve identified the fact that there is a problem, how can we employ tactics to find a combination of solutions that will close the gap? Here are some potential solutions that could become factors in diversifying the tech space.
Publicly Setting Diversity Goals
In 2015, Pinterest boosted hiring rates of underrepresented individuals by 5% after publicly announcing and detailing its goals as a company. Microsoft and Pandora found similar success after following suit. It seems that when companies make a committed effort to reverse the trend, it’s possible to start moving numbers in the right direction.
Encouraging Young Kids
Studies show that the diversity gap in the technology space can begin as early as kindergarten. There are many nonprofits dedicated to bringing computer science opportunities to kids of different ages, genders, and races, which is a great start. Organizations like Coderdojo, help kids take the first steps in computer science and encourage them to explore technical skills from a young age. While it may not be possible to completely close the gap tomorrow, we can start encouraging the tech workers of the future