Thursday, July 30, 2009
Stuck in the Shallow End
The more I study why there are not more African Americans in the field of Computer Science, the more I realize like most of our ills, it has to do with lack of opportunities and social conditioning.
I had my suspicions before, but after reading Stuck in the Shallow End by Jane Margolis I am completely on board.
If you are reading this blog post and you do not believe in this notion of getting our people, especially our young people, involved in learning computer science and participating in the digital society I strongly suggest that you read this book.
Dr. Margolis makes the case much better than I can at this point, but I am very pleased to have come upon a book that A) illustrates that our lack of participation in this area is a problem not only for African Americans but also for America and B) Provides reasons for why this is the case.
As someone who has a degree in Computer Science and has spent twenty-five years developing software this question has plagued me for years.
This book has helped to convince me that much of the issue here is economic. Not that one can’t aspire to learn despite economics, of course they can. But how a group’s economic position drives, policy, expectations, and beliefs, which play a huge role in what opportunities are presented.
Lack of opportunities to learn why computer science is important and what it can do for you is at the core for the lack of diversity in this field. For a great article on how race comes into play check out this article by Claude Steele.
Stay tuned, there is definitely more to come.
Kai Ajala Dupé