Underrepresented students are more likely to enter college with less preparation resulting from limited access to rigorous STEM/computer science courses in high school.
LESS LIKELY TO
MAJOR IN CS
Students who do not take AP Computer Science are 8X less likely to pursue college degrees in computer science.
Black, Latinx, and American Indian/Alaskan Native students have less access to advanced math and science courses in high school and are more likely to be tracked into lower level math and science courses than their peers.
Students in high poverty schools are much less likely to have access to advanced math and science courses (like Calculus and Physics) than students in low poverty schools. Only 1 in 4 students (26%) who attend high poverty schools have access to any CS course in their school.
The median wealth of White households is 13x higher than the median wealth of Black households.
Role Models, Mentors, and Peer Networks
The lack of women and students of color in computing contributes to the limited peer networks, mentors, and role models for students from diverse backgrounds.
6%Black and Latinx instructors combined are just 6% of CS faculty, significantly reducing exposure to underrepresented role models in CS.
Black students are more likely to persist in a STEM major if they have a STEM course taught by a Black professor. Women who take STEM courses with female faculty have greater confidence and intentions to pursue STEM careers than women who do not.
The lack of exposure to faculty from diverse backgrounds has a negative impact on identification with STEM, knowledge of STEM pathways, and interest in pursuing computing careers.
Underrepresentation in STEM also means less dense networks of peers of color in STEM majors. This contributes to decreased motivation, self-efficacy, and academic and social support for students of color in STEM majors.
Students from underrepresented backgrounds experience subtle biases in classrooms and on campus that impact their satisfaction, persistence, and retention.
Women and students of color report experiencing microaggressions, or subtle acts of bias and discrimination, in interactions with peers and instructors in college classrooms at much higher rates than their peers.
These experiences can include negative comments, having contributions or participation ignored, questioning one’s ability and background, lower expectations, and differential treatment by professors and advisors, all of which affect the self-efficacy, engagement, performance, and mental health of underrepresented students.
Experiencing a “chilly climate” in classrooms can also affect confidence, participation, retention, and career aspirations among women and students of color.
Experiencing microaggressions on college campuses negatively impacts student engagement and retention.
The computer science classroom environment can impact underrepresented students’ sense of inclusion and belonging.
Stereotypical cues (e.g., game posters, choice of decor, etc) in college computing classrooms can have detrimental outcomes for underrepresented students who don’t identify with the images and culture represented and may disidentify with computer science, leading to decreased aspirations to study computing.
Environmental cues can also decrease underrepresented students’ sense of belonging in the field of computer science. When stereotypical cues are removed from computing environments, underrepresented students’ sense of belonging has been shown to increase.
Environmental cues in classrooms can encourage or discourage engagement in computer science.
Curriculum Alignment and Relevance
Computer science courses often lack engaging and relevant curriculum aligned with tech workforce needs, particularly impacting the participation of underrepresented students in computing majors.
Without curriculum that is engaging, culturally relevant, or aligned with the interests of underrepresented groups, CS will continue to be perceived as solitary, lacking interaction, and lacking connection to societal challenges.
Colleges vary tremendously in the type of curriculum that is taught, with many universities having outdated curriculum that is not aligned to the needs of the tech workforce, and affects the matriculation of students into tech jobs.
Stereotype threat: The risk and fear of confirming a negative stereotype about one's own group.
Internships and Workforce Pathways
Underrepresented students lack access to programs and social networks that prepare and connect them with internship and workforce opportunities.
Lack of access to informal social networks and capital, lack of recruitment at universities with diverse populations, curriculum misalignment and the over-reliance on recruitment from the same set of elite universities results in the lack of diversity in the intern population.
At many tech companies, an internship is a foot in the door, and companies often convert up to 52% of their interns into full-time employees.
There is limited information on the efficacy of programs designed to provide alternative pathways into tech jobs (bootcamps, apprenticeship programs).