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Reaching Black Women Interested in Computing: The Importance of Organizational Ties

This research project seeks to examine longstanding inequities in access to and participation in computer science (CS) education. Decades of research have shown that certain subgroups (e.g., women, students with disabilities, underrepresented minority students) tend to face substantial barriers to participating in CS courses and programs. As computing education continues to expand in K-12 education systems, it is important to understand how early experiences in computing education relate to enrollment in computing courses and programs in college. By combining quantitative analyses of large-scale enrollment data and student surveys with qualitative data from focus groups and interviews, this project aims to inform efforts to broaden and diversify participation in computing education. Specifically, this project seeks to systematically answer how K-12 computing experiences influence students as they pursue higher education and whether and how that influence differs for distinct subpopulations of students.

This paper was presented at SIGCSE in March 2022. In this paper, we hypothesize that inequities at the K-12 level result in Black women’s underrepresentation in computing, because Black women have accumulated less social capital and are less embedded in courses and organizations related to computing prior to college. This paper reports the initial findings from the first round of a survey designed to gather the pre-college computing experiences of Black women and their peers.

SageFox Team Members involved: Rebecca Zarch and Talia Goldwasser

External Partners: Bailey Brown and Celeste Lee, Spelman College; Jayce Warner, Gibson Consulting Group; Tamara Pearson, Georgia Tech; Megean Garvin, University Systems of Maryland; Amanda Menier, SageFox


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