TECH UP THOUGHTS BY MEG HATTON, TECH UP FOR WOMEN TEAM
At Tech Up for Women, we work to inspire and teach women of all ages to “tech up” and take their careers to a new level with cutting edge technology skills. A lot of times, this need exists because of both lack of education, and need for 21st century skills. In the past two decades, there has now grown an importance for young adults, and even children, to “tech up” and adopt the crucial life skill of working with technology. As more and more companies look to hire employees with tech knowledge, an importance has been placed on computer and technology skills being taught at a young age. Curriculum for children as young as elementary school age has grown to include typing skills, basic coding, and programming fundamentals. However, the United States still falls behind in its computer science education department.
In a 2020 report conducted by the State of Computer Science Education, it was found that less than half of US schools teach at least one computer science course. This raises a major red flag: in more than half of the schools in the United States, students do not have any access to computer science courses throughout their 13 years of education. Unfortunately, this disparity also affects underrepresented groups the most. Students from rural areas and economically disadvantaged households, along with Native American, African American, Hispanic, Latino, or Latina students are less likely to attend the 47% of schools that do teach computer science.
This does not completely discount the leads that have been made; in 2020, more than half of the United States collectively passed 42 policies to bolster computer science education. Participation numbers for AP computer science exams continue to grow rapidly, and computer and technology education has no doubt made progress. However, in order to keep these numbers growing, and stay up with the speed of the industry, schools across the country have to address this disparity in computer science education.
Accessibility is a key first step, especially in economically disadvantaged areas, plentiful computers and internet connection access is crucial to allowing students to begin mastering technology. After that, mandated courses in typing and computer fundamentals can be supplemented by more specific electives and clubs, where young men and women can explore things like robots, algorithms, and video creation. At such a pivotal time in development, the opportunities for students to tech up are endless.
Disparities between computer education departments in the United States are glaring, and it is crucial that there is a curriculum giving equal opportunity for all students. For the future members and leaders of Tech Up for Women, computer and technology skills are fundamental. It’s time for the common core to #TechUp!