12720 ED: Designing Computing Programs With Equity at the Core: Increasing the Participation of Girls and Youth of Color in Culturally Responsive Computing

06/11/2015 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
CA Ballroom C

Organizers: Jane Margolis, Kimberly Scott
Presenters: Jane Margolis, Kimberly Scott, Joanna Goode, Nancy Se
Discussant: Nelson Mauricio, Reyna Carias, Floyd Anderson, Diamond Wheeler

Topic Significance and Relation to Conference Theme. In keeping with the theme of this year’s conference, this panel examines the efforts of two culturally responsive computing programs designed to foster greater equity for girls and youth of color. In so doing, we also contribute to the conference goal to “move beyond a focus on access to tools,” turning our attention toward youth participation in actually creating the tools and technologies of the future. Indeed, while girls and youth of color experience increasing access and are often avid users of technologies, (e.g., playing games, operating cell phones, making documentaries) they remain significantly underrepresented when it comes to the creation and invention of these technologies (e.g., programming, creating apps, designing games). In 2012, women received only 18% of computing degrees – down from 37% in 1985 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). The picture is equally bleak in industry, where women’s participation in technology professions has fallen from 37% in 1990-91 to 26% in 2013 (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2013). And these numbers are even more troubling when considering the state of affairs for women of color. For example, African-American women hold only 3% of computing occupations, while Latinas hold only 1% of these occupations. Latinos and African American men also are underrepresented in computing occupations (5% and 4%, respectively) (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2013). These trends are of particular concern if underrepresented groups are to have an equitable voice in creating the new technologies that will shape future worlds.

To help reverse this underrepresentation, we will explore the design and outcomes of two culturally responsive computing programs. With a perspective rooted in intersectionality, critical race, and feminist theories, these programs were explicitly designed with equity in mind. The first program, Exploring Computer Science, occurs during the regular public school day and enrolls students whose demographics (75% Latino, 10% African American; 45% girls) stand in sharp contrast to other computer science courses in the same district. The second program, CompuGirls, occurs after school and enrolls primarily Latinas and African American girls, often from under-resourced school districts. Both programs employ culturally responsive pedagogies, drawing on students’ existing strengths and prior experiences to further develop their abilities and identities as technologists. Both programs also involve students in examining social inequities and in learning to create technologies that address these inequities in their local communities.

Format. Panelists will first provide information on each program’s design and goals for increasing equity in computing. Panelists will then respond to moderator and audience questions focused on the successes and challenges in designing these programs for equity; key insights learned from the similarities and differences between the two programs; new questions about equity that these endeavors raise; and important future directions. The moderator will encourage audience discussion throughout the session. We also plan to include a youth panelist who will discuss her perspective

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