- With educators and business leaders trying to close the diversity gap in the tech industry by expanding access to computer science education, the American Library Association and Google have partnered to launch the Libraries Ready to Code initiative, EdTech: Focus on K-12 reports.
- Though the initiative began last summer, the initiative just began to receive dedicated funding this fall and recently offered more than $500,000 in grants for 28 libraries in 21 states.
- Because public libraries can be found in most U.S. communities, they have become centers of innovation to allow expanded educational opportunities to students beyond the classroom, and their accessibility to most students makes them the best place to offer expanded computer science education access.
School libraries are also evolving in the digital age as they become centers for digital exploration and education, as well as a source for reading material and research. However, after the school day has ended, these digital opportunities cease for many students who do not have the same tech access at home as their more affluent peers. Public libraries, therefore, often become a hub for expanded learning opportunities beyond the school walls. This new Libraries Ready to Code grant is designed to help them offer education in computer coding to more students with the goal of increasing diversity in technology.
As an example, Code.org reports that “in high school, the Advanced Placement exam in Computer Science has the worst gender diversity across all courses, with 78% participation by men and 22% by women. Participation by students of color is 13%."
Many experts in the field consider the shortage of computer science graduates to be one of the most pressing issues facing the industry, and are especially concerned about the underrepresentation of women and minorities. Schools and communities need to work together to ensure that all students have the same access to computer education and that underrepresented groups are encouraged to participate in those opportunities.