The race and gender gaps in the computer science space is very real. It is a complex and longstanding problem with no one-size-fits-all solution. The problem is that underrepresented groups such as female students, black students, and Hispanic students each face very different barriers to entry into the computer science space.
It probably goes without saying that the most prevalent group in the coding and computer science space is made of up white males. There may be many reasons for this. About 68% of white students report having access to a computer at home most days of the week, whereas only 58% of black students and 50% of Hispanic students report having that same access (Gallup). Black students are also less likely to have access to computer science classes in school. However, when asked, these black students were 1.5 times more interested in studying computer science than their white peers. Of the underrepresented groups surveyed, Hispanic students showed the most interest in computer classes, showing 1.7 times more interest than their white peers. (USA Today).
It’s possible that male students are more likely to be encouraged to study computer science than their female counterparts. Only 39% of girls are told by parents and teachers that they would be good at computer science, while 56% of boys report being told that they have a future in technology (USA Today).
Statistics on the diversity gap in tech are as easy to find as they are endless. So now that we’ve identified the fact that there is a problem, how can we employ tactics to find a combination of solutions that will close the gap? Here are some potential solutions that could become factors in diversifying the tech space.
Publicly Setting Diversity Goals
In 2015, Pinterest boosted hiring rates of underrepresented individuals by 5% after publicly announcing and detailing its goals as a company. Microsoft and Pandora found similar success after following suit. It seems that when companies make a committed effort to reverse the trend, it’s possible to start moving numbers in the right direction.
Encouraging Young Kids
Studies show that the diversity gap in the technology space can begin as early as kindergarten. There are many nonprofits dedicated to bringing computer science opportunities to kids of different ages, genders, and races, which is a great start. Organizations like Coderdojo, help kids take the first steps in computer science and encourage them to explore technical skills from a young age. While it may not be possible to completely close the gap tomorrow, we can start encouraging the tech workers of the future.
|SPOTLIGHT: WOMEN IN TECH|
Many white female students have the same access to computer learning opportunities as their male counterparts, so limited access does not necessarily explain the gender gap in coding. Rather, experts believe that girls are not encouraged from a young age to pursue a career in computing. Young girls who reported having an inspiring teacher in junior high were 16% more likely to pursue a career in computers (Fortune).
Additionally, it’s possible that coding and computer curricula are often designed to align with things that are traditionally enjoyed by male students. Many nonprofits are working toward the goal of building opportunities and curricula that hold appeal for girls in particular, which could be another way to close the gender gap in coding.
The good news is that there is hope. A report from Harvey Mudd College found that if educators and parents can support an interest in computer science during the junior high years, the number of women working in the industry in 2025 could reach 3.9 million. To help support and elevate women in tech, specifically in Indiana, Indy Women in Tech is holding a benefit to raise money to support initiatives that give women the assistance they need to pursue a career in tech. If you’re interested in participating, you can find more information and registration details here.
Obtain More Detailed Information
While there are plenty of stats available about race and gender gaps in tech, critics find that the metrics on candidate pools and hiring pipelines may not be entirely comprehensive. The argument is that many statistics may be more focused on the outcome, not the cause of the problem. Many groups are focused on collecting data that pertains specifically to the tech workspace and how computing positions are filled and maintained.
Offering Equal Salaries & Treatment Across All Groups
According to a report of technology salaries from Hired, average salaries for black, Hispanic, and Asian workers were $3,000-$6,000 less than their white peers. About 37% of employees of technology companies leave their positions because of unfair treatment. By eliminating pay discrepancies, could the tech workforce prevent the loss of diverse talent?
Access To Education Options
One of the obstacles standing in the way of underrepresented groups is easy access to an affordable computer science education. Imagine what the gap would look like if female students, black students, and Hispanic students had increased access to technology education. Better yet, what if that education were affordable and provided them with hard-hitting skills sets that equipped them to be gainfully employed in the computing space?
At Eleven Fifty Academy, we believe that providing access to an affordable and power-packed coding education has the potential to help close the diversity gap in coding. Our classes embrace students of different races and genders. Our instructors are both supportive and encouraging. The reality in today’s world is that coding is for everyone. If you have an interest in coding, talk to one of our team members. We’d love to hear about your individual goals and dreams to learn about how we can help give you to tools to succeed as a coder.