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Black Computer Scientists in Academe: An Endangered Species?


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African-American student with endangered species

Credit: Jon Krause / The Chronicle of Higher Education

African-Americans account for just 1.3 percent of computer science faculty at U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Computing Research Association's Taulbee Survey Report. In addition, only 1.6 percent of computer science doctorate degrees went to blacks in 2008-2009, while federal data estimates that 3.7 percent of nearly 700 doctorate recipients in computer and information sciences in 2008 were black U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

One argument for the shortfall is that black students are not being inspired to study computer science because there are few black computer scientists to engage them, note University of Notre Dame professor M. Brian Blake and Clemson University professor Juan E. Gilbert. Among their recommendations for boosting the number of black computer scientists is giving students greater access to information about computing careers and more exposure to role models. They say interventions to grow the black computer scientist population must span the entire educational spectrum, from elementary school to graduate school. For example, Blake leads a project that has created several computing technique introduction modules for 12- to 16-year-olds.

Blake and Gilbert also recommend including undergraduates in efforts to raise the number of computer scientists, and to act as mentors and providers of balanced advice.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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