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September 30, 2009 / Ben Chun

This Is Not Helping

whitemalelabSo there’s this ongoing problem we try to tackle in computer science education where women and minorities are under-represented in the field.

I was over at the Google Labs web site today, looking for some awesome new something or other. Maybe I’ve just gotten overly sensitized to this sort of thing, but the homogeneity in the column of faces there really jumped out at me. Does it hit you the same way? I’m not faulting them for giving some individual engineers credit and visibility or for putting a human face on their stuff or for being who they are.

But this is what our challenge looks like.

“Many women and minorities are being turned off in the fourth and fifth grade before they even know what computer science is.” — Jan Cuny, National Science Foundation



Leave a Comment
  1. anon / Sep 30 2009 1:40 pm

    I would expect to see at least one Asian-Indian face, since that’s one minority which seems to have consistent success in the field. Granted two is not much better than one, but still.

  2. dave glasser / Sep 30 2009 2:03 pm

    Not that it makes more than the tiniest bit of difference, but if you hit reload a time or two, you’ll probably eventually see a (white) woman.

  3. Alfred Thompson / Oct 1 2009 2:27 am

    You may want to visit the women in technology show at Channel 9 some time. It is one attempt to highlight the achievements and work of women in the field.

  4. Raqib / Oct 10 2009 5:44 am

    Agreed with your post. Its part of a general trend of women and minorities being under-represented in math and science degrees and professions. (And by minorities, I mean black, hispanic, and Native American) Your article has me thinking in several directions; but (as an African-american computer scientist) I’m giving a lot of thought to how we can increase the representation. We’ll start with the local NSBE chapter and see how active they are.


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