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A conversation about computer science education and how to increase diversity in the tech sector

December 11, 2017
Young people can get excited about computer science, but they may not get the opportunity to continue learning.
Young people can get excited about computer science at school or a summer program, but they may not get the opportunity to continue learning. (Photo: izusek/Getty Images)
Allison Scott explains how a new course requirement in high school could help diversify the tech world.

What would happen if computer science became part of every high school curriculum?

For one thing, more women and people of color would likely enter the field, said Allison Scott, chief research officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, a nonprofit working to enhance diversity in the field of technology.

On this episode of School’s In, Scott joined GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope in the studio to talk about the importance of expanding all students’ access to fields like data science, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and about the Kapor Center’s new campaign to bring computer science courses to all California schools.

“There’s been a lot of energy and momentum around exposure – say, to expose kids to a hackathon to get them really juiced and excited about coding and computer science,” Scott said. “But if there aren’t courses to follow up on that spark of interest, you’re not really teaching them.”

As our economy becomes more dependent on technology across all sectors and industries, Scott, pointed out, computer science will be useful no matter what paths students eventually pursue. But contrary to popular belief, she added, this type of education is not meant to be vocational training. “We don’t just want to teach computer science and computational thinking so that people get jobs,” she said. “We should start teaching it as another form of literacy.”

Listen from the link below, and find more episodes of School's In at the Stanford Radio main page. The show airs Saturdays on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121.