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Resources for Addressing Equity Issues in 2009

As we begin a new year, we can only imagine what new technological innovations will be created this year that will change the way people live their lives. In just the last decade, we've witnessed how computer science has impacted political processes, changed modes and styles of communication, and deepened scientific inquiry across many areas. While these developments certainly have a profound impact on most of society, the developers come from a relatively homogenous group.

As computer science educators, we often witness the same patterns in our classroom. Why are there more boys than girls enrolled in classes, especially in more advanced computing courses? Why are there more White students and Asian students studying computer science than African American, Latino, or American Indian students? And, what can we do about it?

I challenge all computer science educators to commit to addressing equity issues in 2009. We must think beyond the gender equity gap and work to make our classrooms reflect the cultural diversity found in our schools, as well.

The CSTA and related affiliations have provided a variety of resources to help you recruit and retain more diverse students in computer science classes. So far, these resources target mostly girls, but could be modified to recruit and retain students of color, as well. These publications, brochures, videos, and digital media address two aspects of the equity issue by providing career information to students and exposing students to diverse role models.

1) Provide Information about Computer Science & Careers:

Gotta have IT toolkit of brochures, posters, and information
http://www.ncwit.org/ghit
Gotta have IT is an all-in-one computing resource kit designed for all students, but particularly girls. A select set of high-quality posters, computing and careers information, digital media and more, the resource kit builds awareness and inspires interest in computing. The set includes CSTA's Careers in Computingposter and CSTA'sThe New Educational Imperative: Improving K-12 Computer Science publication.

Imagine Your Career in Computingbrochure for middle school students
http://www.csta.acm.org/Resources/sub/CareersFiles/CSTA-MiddleSchool-broch-new.pdf
http://www.csta.acm.org/Resources/sub/CareersFiles/CareersBrochureSpanish.pdf
Available in both English and Spanish, this CSTA brochure shows the connections between the technologies middle schoolers use every day and the courses and the career opportunities available to them.

A Day in the Life,Power to Change the World, and Pathways in Computer Science Videos
http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/ugrad/prospective/outreach.html
These videos highlight the lives of real computer science graduates from the University of Washington. A Day in the Life follows five female computer science professionals, Power to Change the World documents the variety of reasons why students choose computer science as a career, and Pathways in Computer Science shows the interdisciplinary applications found in computer science.

2) Exposure to Diverse Role Models

Role Model Toolkit
http://www.techbridgegirls.org/role_models.asp
This toolkit contains a guide for field trips and classroom visits to help plan the interaction between professionals and students. The toolkit also contains icebreakers and activities for visits. This toolkit is geared towards girls, but can be used for all students.

Spelbots: The First All-Female and African American Robotics Team
http://www.spelman.edu/~spelbots/
Provides videos and other stories about the rise of the Spelman College Spelbots and their international successes.

Besides these resources, do any of you use additional resources for broadening participation in computer science classrooms?

Joanna Goode
CSTA Equity Chair


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