Equity: Reducing Stereotype Threat

Diversity Gaps in Computer Science Infographic from Google

Equity in CS Education

Historically, women, minorities, and people with disabilities are underrepresented in computer science at many levels: out-of-school education, high school courses, college majors, PhD's, and the workforce. As our world becomes increasingly more reliant on technology, it is essential that all students have a basic understanding of computer science. And that the IT workforce is representative of our country's diverse population.

The Mobile CSP curriculum has been carefully designed to be appealing to many different students and to employ evidence-based practices to support underrepresented groups. While these strategies support underrepresented students in particular, they are good teaching practices for all students. In this lesson, you'll learn more about how students might feel marginalized in CS courses, what stereotype threat is for underrepresented students and how it impacts learning. We'll also introduce you to some of the strategies that can help improve the classroom environment. In future lessons, you'll learn more about those strategies and how to use them in Mobile CSP.

Presentation - Reducing Stereotype Threat in Computer Science Education (Slides)

Dr. Jane Margolis, a CS Education researcher at UCLA, describes how social/economic constructs often lead to "preparatory-privilege – kids who come from homes [with] multiple computers and where there are parents who know about computer science, these are the ones who come to school with all this background knowledge, and everyone then assumes that they are the only students with a ‘natural talent’ for the field ... Many kids think, ‘I couldn’t do that.’ But, the truth is that they’ve never been introduced to it in a way that engages them and demystifies the field." (Harmon, 2013).

More Data and Resources:

Professional Development Reflection

Review the video or the slide presentation and then discuss the following questions with other teachers in your professional development program.

  • Instead of telling a girl student that she should take your class because we need more women in computing, a tactic that invokes stereotype threat, how might you use the techniques described in the presentation to talk with her about a computing class?
  • You have likely worked through Units 1 and 2 of the Mobile CSP curriculum by now. What aspects of the curriculum are designed to reduce stereotype threat?
  • What do you still want to know and learn about equity in CS education?