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Mary Ramirez Community Leader Sep 04, 2018

The College Board reported a 31% increase in students taking the Computer Science Advanced placement test. Females and under-represented minorities were one of the fastest growing groups.

In your opinion:

  1. What may have been the cause of this?
  2. Were you introduced to CS as a child? If so, give a shout out! 
  3. Are you influencing others through volunteering and/or mentoring?

2 comments

Hi @Mary Ramirez!

This is good news, thank you for sharing. 

I've noticed a significant change not only in the people that are entering the Computer Science fields, but also in how they are perceived. I firmly believe that Social Media and Smart Phones are the primary culprits, more in that in a second...

First, I was introduced to computers when I was in 5th grade, so around 1980. My dad had a TSR-80 that he used for work, and he let us play games on it.  I wanted to know how it worked, so he bought me a book on programming (BASIC) and I taught myself how to code. I thought this was great fun, so I shared it with my friends at school and was instantly branded a nerd, a stigma that followed me throughout high school and into my first "adult" job as a mixer in a chemical plant. 

Today, however, the cost of computers has gone way down from the '80s, some degree of skills with a PC is required for nearly every job, and over 62% of the world population (95% in the United States) has a mobile phone. (Source) That influx of technology at the global level has changed the job market, spawned entire new economies, and altered how society views its technical experts, including moving technology from the realm of the Nerds to everyday "normal" people in schools.  Throw in an emphasis on STEM learning and you have the ingredients for even more significant change.

Ever since Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and a host of other social communication platforms gained critical mass among tweens, teens, and young adults the curiosity I felt with a TRS-80 has taken hold. Kids today use computers so much as part of their daily lives that it is only natural that there will be an increase in people across demographics that want to learn how these things work and have the opportunities to get formal education in Computer Science.  

Smart Phones, the Internet, and Computer Science as a whole are all making the world a smaller place and changing how we interact with each other. Providing more STEM education at younger and younger ages, especially in the under-represented minorities, will drive this forward. 

-Scott

Linette Atlassian Team Sep 05, 2018

I've been reading Brotopia which so far has been quite eye opening. For example in 1984 40% of CS students were female and we've gone backwards from there.

One thing that I think probably contributed is that one of the main "what career/degree are you suitable for" tests, had criteria set which determined that to be a programmer you should have certain traits then men are usually more socialized towards, and NOT have traits that women have been more traditionally socialized towards. So women taken these test were generally not recommended to look at CS as an option.

Also computers being marketed as a 'boys toys' rather than unisex probably didn't help.

I was in an advanced math class which then got me introduced to the computer club at school, but even with me being in the computer club, learning to program basic in my own time, when it came to what I should study when we first did electives CS was never shown as an option. :(

As such, whilst I've always worked in some form of tech, my developing fell by the wayside. I still fight with an internal voice saying I'm not technical enough, even though I won a national award in the technical category for women in ICT. Go figure.

I struggle now with thinking that I'm not in a techie enough role to get other women into 'proper' tech (I'm a technical writer). I'm working to overcome this!

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