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White, Male Tech Image Hinders Progress, Poll Finds


A student learning to code at DuBose Middle School in Summerville, SC, high-fives a member of Google's CS First teaching program.

Parents overwhelmingly believe computer science skills will provide their children with bright employment futures, but for many of todays students particularly girls that goal often seems out of reach.

Credit: Google

Parents overwhelmingly think computer science (CS) skills will help their children find careers, yet that goal often seems out of reach for many of today's young girls, according to the second in an ongoing series of Gallup surveys commissioned by Google.

The poll found nearly half of the K-12 students surveyed think computer scientists need to be very smart in terms of math and science, but only 42 percent of students self-identified as being "very skilled" at math, and 39 percent at science. The survey found this gap widened when girls were asked about pursuing careers as computer programmers, with 42 percent reporting they felt "very confident" they could learn the necessary skills, compared to 62 percent of boys. In addition, only 18 percent of girls said they were "very likely" to pursue computer science in the future, compared to 35 percent of boys, according to the survey.

Many of the respondents attribute these figures to the characters seen practicing computer science in popular media, who are largely white and male. "These perceptions that you have to be white, male, and very smart means many kids don't see CS as being for them," says Google's Sepi Hejazi Moghadam.

From USA Today
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