• Wednesday, 20 February 2019

New Study: CS For All Is More Inclusive When Students Understand Computing Careers

DENVER: Efforts to broaden participation in STEM and computing have been in process for decades, yet our technology workforce continues to suffer from a lack of diversity, and the demand for computing jobs continues to significantly exceed the pipeline.

Exposure to a breadth of technology careers and access to more engaging career exploration leads to an improved awareness and perception of computing careers, according to a new research report from STEM education provider Couragion and Oracle Academy.

After exposure to tech careers, students expressed positive or neutral sentiment about tech career pathways 75% of the time. High numbers of students (aged 10 to 16) received a ʻBest Fitʼ for Data, Design, and Product careers. This is especially true for females and students of color, whereby 2 to 3.5X more students received ʻBest Fitsʼ for Data, Design, and Product careers compared to Programming careers.

Based on these findings, if students better understand a broader array of tech career opportunities, the number of students pursuing computer science pathways would be greater, said Melissa Risteff, CEO and Co-Founder of Couragion. Those charged with postsecondary readiness and student transitions often don't understand the tech career opportunities beyond a software developer. Career competence should be part of every educator's job so that we can integrally incorporate career pathway exploration into our education system to expand perspectives and broaden participation in technology and computing.

At Oracle Academy, we believe all students should have the knowledge and skills to achieve their dreams; in the 21st century, this necessarily includes computer science, said Alison Derbenwick Miller, Vice President of Oracle Academy. The lack of diversity in computing continues to be a challenge, but we are encouraged by Couragion's latest research findings that shift how we understand and address the engagement of underrepresented populations. Perhaps part of the solution we are seeking isn't in changing how we teach computer science. Instead, it is in changing how we frame and contextualize computer science with students.

The research report is an 'insider view' from the student's perspective about their perception of tech careers and which indicators influence their own quest for occupational identity. Key findings include:

UX and Data Science career pathways attracted females and students of color 60 to 70% of the time which is an unanticipated higher than average rate
Only 1/3 of students had affinity for the Software Developer career - landing at the bottom of the list of all tech careers explored, regardless of gender or race

Educators, advocates and career influencers can leverage these research findings to improve their teaching and learning with respect to what inspires individuals and how they select careers. The findings establish that computing careers can be for everyone.

The full report is available at: www.couragion.com/cs-report.


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