A Study on Coding Schools and Boot Camps; Texas A&M Wants 25,000 Engineers; Fixing the Environment, Not the Woman, Can Solve Underrepresentation; CS in Federal Statutes

Course Report Releases a Study on Coding Schools and Boot Camps

The International Business Times recently summarized a study from the 2015 Student Outcomes and Demographics Study, which was conducted by New York startup Course Report, on the success of coding schools and boot camps across the nation in bringing more diversity into tech. In the article, author Salvador Rodriguez examines the findings.

The study found that women represent more than 36 percent of the students at the dozens of new coding schools and boot camps that have opened across the country over the past few years, more than twice the number of women who earn computer science bachelor’s degrees at traditional universities.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Women who graduate from these programs earn starting salaries that are on average $10,000 higher than those of their male counterparts.
  • 5 percent of coding school graduates were African-American while 20 percent were Hispanic. The number of students earning bachelor’s degrees in computer science are 3.2 percent for African-Americans and only 6.8 percent for Hispanics.
  • 89 percent of graduates reported securing a job within 120 days after completing their program.

“This educational model is coming into the market at a time when we’re really now discussing getting women into technology,” said Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code. “If people haven’t been encouraged to choose a path in technology, [coding schools] are providing a new avenue for women to get into the tech industry as adults.”

Coding schools and boot camps are one avenue available for pursuing computing careers. NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) resources provide information for students to connect their interests with next steps for technical careers: www.ncwit.org/c4c.

Texas A&M Wants 25,000 Engineers by 2025

According to a recent article in Batt.Com, Texas A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering is seeing progress for their 25 by 25 Initiative. The goal of their initiative is to enroll 25,000 engineers by 2025. It's been reported that Texas A&M has the largest class of female freshmen engineering majors in the nation for the second year straight, and in the fall of 2014, women at Look College made up more than 21 percent of the Texas A&M’s enrollment.

Real-world examples, outreach events, and a sense of community are among the factors noted by the article’s interviewees as reasons for the school’s positive enrollment numbers. “One of the most interesting differences that I have seen as a female looking back on three years, is kind of the push to let female engineering students see that engineering isn’t just about getting out there and turning a wrench,” said Jayci Blake, president of the Texas A&M Society of Women Engineers and a chemical engineering senior. “It definitely can be and it’s an important part of it, but it’s also more about this branch of thought and how to approach a problem and work through it to find the best solution.”

Want to see how your enrollment data compares? Use the NCWIT Tracking Tool to compare each of your computing majors to comparison data from 1) other schools with the same types of degrees, 2) other schools with the same majors, and 3) national data sources such as IPEDS and Taulbee. Get started at https://trackingtool.ncwit.org/.

Fixing the Environment, Not the Woman, Can Solve Underrepresentation

A recent CIO.com article entitled “Where’s the diversity? Look at your culture, not your pipeline” highlighted the work of Nadya Fouad, PhD and Romila Singh, PhD. As a distinguished professor in educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee who spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last month, Faud questioned whether or not the popular press asks the right questions when it comes to the underrepresentation of women in technology. “Should we be focused on fixing women? Or focused on fixing the work environments? Are women leaving — or are they being pushed out?" she asks.

Fouad, Singh, and a team of researchers examined why women leave STEM via a three-year study. The study includes survey responses from about 3,745 women who have a degree in engineering, and their responses indicate that workplace climate was a “strong factor” in their decision to enter (after college) or leave the engineering field.

"Contrary to what the popular press would have you believe, we found no difference in self-confidence, no difference in the positive outcomes that were expected from performing engineering-related tasks and no difference in work and family related interests between those women who stayed in the field and women who left," said Fouad.

Additional notable findings from the study are as follows:

  • Of those who left, nearly half did so because of working conditions, too much travel, lack of advancement or low salary.
  • One in four left to spend time with family, and many of those might have stayed if more options were available.
  • One in three of the women who left say it was because they did not like their workplace climate, their boss, or the workplace culture.

NCWIT’s Women in IT: The Facts notes additional workplace dissatisfactions that cause women to leave the technical workforce, as well as how to use an ecosystem approach to fix the the underrepresentation problem.

CS in Federal Statutes Can Guide Local Education Systems

A recent article on DailyDot.com by author AJ Dellinger pointed to a number of organizations and corporations that have raised concern about the inclusion of computer science in a pair of bills under revision as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. K-12 Alliance Member Code.org is among the organizations who asked legislators to leave in the mention of computer science as a "core academic subject."

Code.org team member Della Cronin told the Daily Dot, "Computer science isn't explicitly cited in many federal — and state — education statutes. That means that computer science faces a challenge other subjects don't in winning their attention in the fight for resource allocation." Cronin explained that local education systems might be more inclined to give more attention and resources to computer science if the language remains in the bills because they often use federal statutes as a starting point for guidance.

At the local level, all states do not allow computer science to count as a math or science graduation requirement. Furthermore, surveys conducted by Google and Gallup found less than 10 percent of principals and superintendents believe demand for computer science is high among parents in their school or district, and less than 20 percent believe demand is high among students. Yet additional surveys found 91 percent of parents want their child to learn more computer science and 83 percent of students are at least somewhat likely to want to learn computer science.

How can you advocate for the incorporation of computer science in schools? NCWIT Talking Points “Moving Beyond Computer Literacy” covers the value of computer science curriculum and offers steps schools can take to successfully incorporate computer science education. Additionally, Girls in IT: The Facts, sponsored by the K-12 Alliance, outlines recommendations and links to practical resources for educators, parents, administrators, legislators, and policymakers looking to make change.