Leveling the Playing Field: Why Cultural Relevance Matters in Computer Science

Sunday, 16 February 2014: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Columbus KL (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Through the year 2020, computer science (CS) will be one of the only science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines with more jobs available than qualified graduates to fill them. In addition, African-Americans and Hispanics will comprise approximately 40 percent of the US workforce. However, their representation in CS is dismal. These facts illustrate the need to place more students, particularly those of color, in the CS pipeline as early as possible and retain them through baccalaureate degrees. This effort requires a significant investment between K-12 school districts, higher education, industry, and non-profits, and traditional K-12 CS approaches have been unsuccessful. Innovative approaches and programs are required that not only place students of color in the CS pipeline through engagement but also retain them through instruction. This symposium discusses the importance of cultural relevance and equity in K-12 CS education to effectively engage, instruct, retain, and graduate students of color. The panelists comprise the Partnership for Early Engagement in CS (PEECS), a partnership between Howard University, Washington, DC Public Schools (DCPS), Google, and Exploring CS. PEECS is designed to expose every DCPS high-school student to CS prior to graduation. Using successes and lessons learned, the symposium presents strategies for increasing not only the CS pipeline but also the participation of students of color by leveraging the K-12, higher education, industry, and non-profit sectors.
Alicia N. Washington, Howard University
Gail Chapman, Exploring Computer Science
Exploring Computer Science: Access, Equity, and Inquiry
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