Talent Hidden in Plain Sight: Addressing the Gaps in Computer Science

Talent Hidden in Plain Sight: Addressing the Gaps in Computer Science

December 10, 2015

The fact that African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians are far too scarce in the computing professions is well known. Still, it boggles the mind to consider the enormous price our nation pays in lost innovation and economic growth by leaving so much potential talent on the table.

The fact is that even students of color who perform well in high school aren't entering computer science pathways. For example, tens of thousands excel in math, an important prerequisite for computer science, but less than 5,000 took the computer science Advanced Placement test in 2014:

High Flyers Left Behind

One big part of the challenge may well be that students of color have far too little access to computer science classes in high school. A recent study by Google and Gallup offers a sobering picture of unequal opportunities. While 62% of white students reported attending schools with computer science classess--hardly impressive in its own right--black and Latino students fared worse:

Unequal Opportunities in Computing

As a nation, we reap what we sow. Black, Latino, and American Indian Americans make up 35 percent of the college-age population, and yet they receive only 22% of computing degrees and certificates.

Underrepresented minority computing degrees chart

Imagine for a moment that we kept people of color on the computing pathway. If people of color were fully represented in the computing workforce, we would have more than half a million additional computer professionals in this country:

Untapped Minority Talent

Let that soak in for a moment. That is a staggering amount of innovative talent to leave behind.

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