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Diversity Barriers in K-12 Computer Science Education: Structural and Social

Jennifer Wang
SIGCSE '17, ACM (2017)
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As computer science (CS) education expands at the K-12 level, we must be careful to ensure that CS does not exacerbate existing equity gaps in education nor does it hinder efforts to diversify the field of CS. In this paper, we discuss structural and social barriers that influence Blacks, Hispanics, and girls, based on surveys of 1,672 students, 1,677 parents, 1,008 teachers, 9,805 principals, and 2,307 superintendents in the United States. We find that despite higher interest in CS among Black and Hispanic students and parents, structural barriers in access to computers and CS classes are greater for them than for White students. And while girls have the same access as boys, social barriers exist with girls reporting lower awareness of CS opportunities outside of classes, less encouragement from teachers and parents, and less exposure to CS role models in the media. It is critical for expanding CS opportunities to address these issues for each group.

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