New Report Shows Slow Progress for Diversity in California’s Computer Science Programs

Alicia Nunez

The 2021 California Computer Science Access report finds girls and students of color continue to be underrepresented in computer science programs, among other findings

 

OAKLAND, Calif. September 28, 2021Today the Kapor Center, the non-profit focused on expanding access to STEM education and building diversity in the tech industry, and the Computer Science for California (CSforCA) coalition released their 2021 California Computer Science Access report, a summary of the state of computer science (CS) education for K-12 students in California. 

 

The report examines access to computer science education by demographics including race, gender, income, and geographical region. Among its top findings, the report reveals:

 

  • Just 42% of California’s high schools offered a CS course in the 2018-19 academic year; this is a three percentage point increase from 2016 but lags behind the national average (47%)
  • Only 5% of the 1.93M high school students in California were enrolled in any type of CS course in 2018-19 
  • Equity gaps in access to CS education remain stubbornly persistent. Low-income and rural schools are 2x less likely to offer CS courses than their high-income and urban counterparts
  • Only 13% of California’s high schools offered Advanced Placement CS courses, and from those schools, just 561 Black students took AP CS out of a total of 29,047 AP CS students
  • Girls make up just 30% of students enrolled in CS courses, despite comprising 49% of California’s high school population

 

The tech industry is an economic powerhouse in California, where 1.88 million professionals are employed in the sector and $520 billion is generated in output. Yet, the tech sector in California is not representative of the state’s demographics and continues to largely exclude talent and perspectives from Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.

 

“It is imperative that we prioritize investing at both the local and state level in the equitable expansion of computer science education,” says Kapor Center CEO, Allison Scott, Ph.D. “The introduction of computational skills is critical for preparing all students to participate in a tech-driven economy, and is key to developing a diverse future tech workforce for the state.”

 

According to Julie Flapan, Director of the UCLA Computer Science Equity Project, “California is moving in the right direction to expand access to these foundational learning opportunities, but we can’t just stay the course. We need to double down on prioritizing the needs of communities most underrepresented  — girls, low-income students, students of color and rural areas.” She adds, “We have an urgent need to supply and diversify our teacher workforce while building the capacity among all educators to engage our students in high quality computer science that will help prepare them for college, careers, and democratic participation.”

 

The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations, including calls to invest in the training of a diverse CS teacher workforce, develop improved incentive structures for CS educators, and prioritize computational learning goals across K-12 content areas and as a graduation requirement. To read the full 2021 California Computer Science Access report, please visit kaporcenter.org/our-work/research.

 

About Kapor Center

The Kapor Center is a recognized leader in the movement to enhance diversity and inclusion in the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem through increasing access to tech and STEM education programs, conducting research on access and opportunity in computing, investing in community organizations and gap-closing social ventures, and increasing access to capital among diverse entrepreneurs. For more information, visit www.kaporcenter.org.

 

About CSforCA

Computer Science for California (CSforCA) is a coalition of educators, industry leaders, nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions advocating for high quality computer science teaching & learning opportunities in K-12 public schools so that every California student has access, regardless of zip code, race, gender or economic background.

 

View Full Report: Here