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Education Programming

Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist? 612

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-does-the-magic-8-ball-say dept.
theodp writes "What's wrong with this picture?" asked Code.org at its launch earlier this year, lamenting the lack of Computer Science students in a race and gender reference-free infographic. But as the organization has grown via public/private partnerships and inked agreements to drive the CS curriculum for the Chicago and NYC school systems, the same stats webpage has adopted a new gender and racial equity focus, positioning Computer Science education as "a chance to level the playing field" for women, Hispanic and African American students. The new message is consistent with the recently-forged Code.org partnership with the NSF-funded Exploring Computer Science (ECS, "a K-12/university partnership committed to democratizing computer science") and Computer Science Principles (CSP, "a new course under development that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science"). According to The Research Behind ECS, an "insidious 'virtual segregation' that maintains inequality" is to blame for keeping the number of African Americans and Latino/as CS students disproportionately low. So, what might the future of Code.org's proposed equity-based U.S. K-12 CS education look like? "Including culturally relevant instructional materials represented a driving focus of our course development," explained ECS Team members who now advise Code.org. "Cultural design tools encourage students to artistically express computing design concepts from Latino/a, African American, or Native American history as well as cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more. These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications – an important process for discovering the relevance of computer science for their own life." And — ironically for Code.org — it could mean less coding."
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Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:29PM (#45761395)

    Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

    Well, no. Unless there are roaming gangs of white nerdy kids beating up anyone with the wrong color that I haven't heard of.

    • by savuporo (658486) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:21PM (#45761751)

      Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

    • by The Snowman (116231) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:39PM (#45761859) Homepage

      Unless there are roaming gangs of white nerdy kids beating up anyone with the wrong color that I haven't heard of.

      Wrong race. In my experience, whites are one of several minorities in Computer Science. Both in my B.S. and M.S., more than half of my classmates were Hindu males.

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:21PM (#45762163) Journal

      Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

      Well, no. Unless there are roaming gangs of white nerdy kids beating up anyone with the wrong color that I haven't heard of.

      Yesterday a roving gang of white nerdy kids pummeled me for a half hour. I think I broke a nail.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @05:06PM (#45762479)

      Racist and Sexist?

      The labels "Racist" and "Sexist" are like ketchup . . . you can put them on anything.

      Even where it is neither appropriate nor warranted.

      University CS programs will now be required to include these "culturally relevant instructional materials" . . . otherwise, they will be judged "substandard" by the government, and the university will lose any government funding.

  • sexist? pah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:31PM (#45761415)

    I don't see anyone complaining that nursing or primary school teaching is sexist, yet those professions have a definite bias towards one sex.

    So men tend to like computers more than women, does anyone seriously think this is somehow the industry keeping women from participating? (well, ok, but only because a lot of the "men" in the industry tend to be about as mature as the primary school children I referred to earlier!)

    Racist? I can't answer that so readily, but I know a lot of foreign chappies working in IT, and my last company actively discriminated against white guys by only hiring Indian developers - though admittedly they were located in India, and cost a lot less. The one previous to that recruited a lot of Lithuanians, so they could hardly be said to discriminate against the usual native causcasian population.

    Now ageist... that is definitely a problem in IT.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:59PM (#45761621)

      Unix guide - unzip ; strip ; touch ; finger ; mount ; fsck ; more ; yes ; umount ; sleep

      That is all.

    • This program is agnostic to problems of race and gender. Think of the motivations of the people who started it, to 'encourage' people to program.

      What they really care about is getting more workers, so they don't have to pay as much. They saw women as an easy demographic to target, large and untapped. This 'sexism' is the way they decided to market that would be most effective, that is, most manipulative.

      "These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications"

      WTF does that even mean? Her? [youtube.com]

    • by westlake (615356) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:19PM (#45761739)

      I don't see anyone complaining that nursing or primary school teaching is sexist, yet those professions have a definite bias towards one sex.

      If you haven't heard any complaints, it can only be because you haven't been listening:

      Why Men Don't Teach Elementary School [go.com] [ABC News, March]

      Men in Nursing [nurse.com] [October]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by epyT-R (613989)

        Men avoid working for public school systems because their policy is now dictated by feminist trained soccer moms who think all men are potential rapists/pedophiles.

        • by khasim (1285)

          Men avoid working for public school systems because their policy is now dictated by feminist trained soccer moms who think all men are potential rapists/pedophiles.

          Not exactly. But that does show how the larger society will influence/dictate what careers are "acceptable" to which genders/sexes.

          As a male, you will have fewer problems and more social support as an engineer than as a teacher (except college professor).

        • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:14PM (#45762095) Homepage

          all men are potential rapists/pedophiles.

          Potential? I'll show 'em!

          Wait, that came out wrong.

    • Re:sexist? pah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:50PM (#45761953)

      Hey! Most people in the hospital are SICK! Hospitals make folks sick!

      Most people in $FIELD are ( $GENDER | $RACE ), that field is sexist to folks not of ( $GENDER | $RACE ).

      I agree, it's moronic to endorse these simplistic and ignorant notions. Especially since they have no evidence. [youtube.com]

      Are romance novel publishers sexist towards men because there's not 50/50 male:female ratio? Why not ask men if they want to be romance novelists. Oh, look at that, a resounding, "No." Should we force folks to do shit they don't want to do? Want to be a teacher? Sorry, we need more female coal miners. Want to be an engineer? Sorry we need more male counselors. Of course it won't play out like that. There will be a rule saying you just can't accept more men than women, and fields that women don't want to work in will just be under employed -- maybe H1B visas can do something about it? It'll start with minimum quotas for gender ratios ignoring any evidence of the percentages of sexes applying for the positions... Hmm, wait, don't we already Title IX? Ah, everything is going according to plan.

      OH! I know! It's that romance literature as a medium is sexist towards men and needs to be changed to be more accepting of male male authorship! Let's mandate that every other page a visual depiction of sex -- Wha? That destroys the current medium? Ah. I see. If folks want to make visual romance novels they already can... right. So, no one's being prevented from doing a job, just that men and women like different things? THAT'S SEXIST! Brains should be heterogeneous lumps of mush! Variety is the poison of life!

      I see this same gendered preference when asking women if they enjoy or even stand doing the work I'm doing: Being ditch diggers, construction workers, even indie game developers -- Not if they think they would like to be these things, but if they actually enjoy it (I have done so at these jobs). At my local gamedev group we're open to all and friendly, not hostile, we're about 20% women. Geme development is zero-barrier-to-entry, we have free engines, free assets, free tutorials, free assistance. We went out of our way to recruit more female developers, because some social justice warrior folks thought maybe other societal restrictions were keeping the women from signing up. OK, so we repeatedly got 50% of new attendees as female. Guess what? Nearly all the women quickly quit their projects, and far more men stayed. They said they just didn't feel it was a good use of their time. Some women LOVE game developing, and we celebrate them, but most women don't like doing the unglamorous thankless tedious work of developing games that no one will play but other devs.

      Everyone wants to be a prestigious game designer, but the folks more willing to do what it takes to get there in general are men. I hypothesize this is because women value their time differently than men. There's evidence to suggest women are better at multi-tasking in general [wikipedia.org], so perhaps sinking a large portion of your time into a hobby that has low likelihood of yielding money or social standing and eats into the time you'd spend with your friends and family just isn't women's thing -- Or, maybe that men care less in general about the social impact and are more suited to the introversion it practically requires to produce a successful game in a reasonable time frame, as the science of personality trait distribution among sexes would suggest?

      NOPE! Gamers HATE women! GAME CULTURE IS SEXIST! Ugh.

      No one taught me how to write code. The Apple IIe in the computer lab booted to a BASIC prompt, and I figured that shit out despite having to turn it off and go back to Oregon Trail or Number Munchers when they looked my way. No one could prevent me from learning computer science: I was too youn

  • Give me a break. So tired of all this bullshit. Hey I know since Asians have higher representation than Europeans in CS, let's put them in the óppressed' pile too.

  • No. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Max Threshold (540114)
    The white male dominance of computer science begins with little girls being given dolls instead of engineering toys, and poor children (which includes many racial minorities, although not because they're racial minorities) going to shitty schools where they're lucky if their education is only twenty years out of date.
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:13PM (#45761717) Homepage Journal
      Little girls, given the choice between dolls and building blocks, overwhelmingly choose the dolls. You can't reverse biology, and it's idiotic to do so.

      That's not to say women can't do CS. Plenty can. Most choose not to do so.
      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:26PM (#45761783)

        Wrong. You can't change advertising. Advertising comes in many forms: novels, television shows, films and so on. No matter how hard you attempt to shield your children, girls tend to want to be pink princesses because that's how women are portrayed in a majority of children's media. It's not a matter of bad parenting either, you can actively ignore mentioning this stuff and little girls still want to be pink simply because their friends do and everywhere they look it's ingrained in society.

    • Re: No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:14PM (#45761719)

      The barrier for entry in learning to code is virtually nil. You need a computer - it doesn't even have to be a good one - and access to the Internet.

      That's it. If you have that, you have all of the resources, tutorials, books, exercises, and help documentation needed to start learning CS.

      Oh yes - and the motivation to do self-start and learn something yourself.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:36PM (#45761841)

      no.. Girls innately prioritize socialization, which, for whatever reason, is given more respect these days than abilities (like computer programming) that actually accomplish something. Give girls toy trucks, and they treat them like dolls, anthropomorphizing them.. Give dolls to boys and they'll treat them like space ships, or have them fight or whatever..

      Gender is not a social construct. Society is a gender construct.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:51PM (#45761957)

        Girls innately prioritize socialization ... Give girls toy trucks, and they treat them like dolls, anthropomorphizing them.. Give dolls to boys and they'll treat them like space ships, or have them fight or whatever ...

        To you, and all the others on this thread arguing for either the nature or nurture side, a simple question: how do you know this? I'm not interested in your personal observations, because they're horribly biased. If it's based on scientific work, please cite it. As an exercise, then proceed to cite the scientific work that says the opposite. The whole question is far from settled.

        • Unfortunately, personal observations and theories are all anybody's got on this issue. Scientists can't ethically experiment on children, so they're left to try to tease causality out of statistical regressions. There might be a data set out there from some longitudinal study that happens to suggest the causality for women's lack of interest in CS. But either nobody has looked, or someone did look but then didn't publish it because the truth wasn't politically correct.

          Meanwhile, I'll be giving my daughte

          • Re:No. (Score:5, Funny)

            by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @05:09PM (#45762491)

            My dad tried with my sister.

            When she was 16 she could change an alternator herself, admittedly only to prove her little brother wrong.

            Then she learned how to stand on tip toes and then drop her heals to the ground, causing her boobs to bounce...it was over in six months. Learned helplessness.

            BTW once you notice the, tip toes, drop heals to make boobs bounce thing, you see it everywhere. Anybody got any alternative explanations for this body language? It's always related to a girl wanting to get her way.

            • First the obvious - it's an anecdote. Even putting that aside ...

              Learned helplessness.

              No, she learned to pretend to be helpless. That she already knew how to change an alternator proves she wasn't helpless.

              When I first learned to work on cars I thought it was interesting and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Many years later, I still do some of my own work, but I hate it. If I could pull your sister's trick I probably would. Don't blame women for doing it though - blame men who are dumb enough to fall for it.

              BTW once you notice the, tip toes, drop heals to make boobs bounce thing, you see it everywhere. Anybody got any alternative explanations for this body language? It's always related to a girl wanting to get her way.

              I'll have to wa

        • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

          by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#45762571)

          A quick search got me:
          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13596-male-monkeys-prefer-boys-toys.html [newscientist.com]

          same study (I think) with a pro-feminist women-are-smarter-than-men spin near the end
          http://www.livescience.com/22677-girls-dolls-boys-toy-trucks.html [livescience.com]

          Not sure about its pedigree because it's pushing a political narrative, but here's more corroborating evidence suggesting biological basis for gender role/behavior
          http://www.parentingscience.com/girl-toys-and-parenting.html [parentingscience.com]

          Each of these has varying amounts of placative language to satisfy the PC crowd, so, as always, skepticism is the rule of the day when investigating research that's been contaminated with political correctness. I think it is obvious that masculine/feminine traits, both physical and behavioral, boil down to levels of different hormones as one matures.. They manipulate aspects of temperament and behavior that drive people towards some directions and away from others. The reason this is so politically charged is that it conflicts with the liberal dogma that says gender typical behavior is based on social conditioning.

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

          by nbauman (624611) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @07:57PM (#45763527) Homepage Journal

          Here's a classic, often-cited study. To summarize it, some boys are born with an abdominal defect that leaves their bladder or genital organs exposed and malformed. Years ago, surgeons weren't able to reconstruct male organs, so they "converted" the infants at birth to females. They told the parents to keep this secret from the child, and bring them up as girls. So this was a scientific experiment of bring up boys as girls, to the greatest extent imaginable.

          As it turned out, most of the boys rebelled against being brought up as girls, and followed male rather than female behavior. Even as infants of a few months of age, they preferred male toys, such as weapons, and male playing, such as aggression and fighting. As they got older, the preference for male behavior, such as fighting and construction toys, was even more noticeable. Boys played with toy guns. They didn't play with tea sets. And they had strong preferences for male clothing.

          Any reasonable person would have to admit that this is strong evidence that sexual behavior is largely innate, not environmental.

          If you can surgically change a boy to a girl, bring him up as a girl, and have him insist on following male behavior instead, then you could expect the same results from a similar experiment with bringing up girls as boys. If girls have an inherent preference for (or against) certain careers, you'll find more (or fewer) women in those careers, even without discrimination against women, and even despite all the affirmative action and encouragement in the world.

          I don't object to women studying engineering; I encourage it. But I would expect that even with the best gender-free STEM education in the world, you're not going to have equal results of as many women in every discipline of engineering as men. It seems to max out at 10%.

          Science magazine has also published a lot of work on gender in science and science education. There are some efforts that succeeded and other efforts that failed. Women in biology and medicine, success. Women in engineering, relatively rare.

          The evidence goes against somebody suing an employer and saying, "There are more male than female engineers, therefore you're discriminating, and not giving us opportunities, and you should pay us hundreds of thousands of dollars." Which happened in many industries in the 1970s.

          ********************

          Discordant Sexual Identity in Some Genetic Males with Cloacal Exstrophy Assigned to Female Sex at Birth

          William G. Reiner, M.D., and John P. Gearhart, M.D.
          N Engl J Med 2004; 350:333-341
          January 22, 2004
          DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa022236

          Background

          Cloacal exstrophy is a rare, complex defect of the entire pelvis and its contents that occurs during embryogenesis and is associated with severe phallic inadequacy or phallic absence in genetic males. For about 25 years, neonatal assignment to female sex has been advocated for affected males to overcome the issue of phallic inadequacy, but data on outcome remain sparse.

          Methods

          We assessed all 16 genetic males in our cloacal-exstrophy clinic at the ages of 5 to 16 years. Fourteen underwent neonatal assignment to female sex socially, legally, and surgically; the parents of the remaining two refused to do so. Detailed questionnaires extensively evaluated the development of sexual role and identity, as defined by the subjects' persistent declarations of their sex.

          Results

          Eight of the 14 subjects assigned to female sex declared themselves male during the course of this study, whereas the 2 raised as males remained male. Subjects could be grouped according to their stated sexual identity. Five subjects were living as females; three were living with unclear sexual identity, although two of the three had declared themselves male; and eight were living as males, six of whom had reassigned themselves to m

      • by danlip (737336)

        Some girls and some boys will definitely react the way you describe, but not all. I believe there are natural gender differences but they are re-enforced by society, so that the subset of girls who would prefer legos and tinkertoys get dolls instead. Of these a subset will fight their way out of the gender stereotypes to a STEM career, but certainly there are many that don't. Really what is needed is for parents to pay attention to what their child (of either gender) really wants and needs and help them bro

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LoRdTAW (99712) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @06:34PM (#45763109)

      "and poor children (which includes many racial minorities, although not because they're racial minorities) going to shitty schools where they're lucky if their education is only twenty years out of date."

      tl/dr: Without a stable household with at least one educated or mature parent, poor children will fail regardless of their schools environment.

      I would say many poor children do not have parents who actually give a damn if their child is educated or not. More often than not, public schools are used as baby sitting services. That is why public schools in bad neighborhoods look like they are war zones, no one cares, not even the faculty as they are powerless. After the kids get home its time to let them run wild in the streets so as not to bother mom, who is single any might have two or more kids from multiple men. There is also no male figure in the house nor someone who can provide a steady income.

      So most poor kids don't care about school let alone a career path or genuinely becoming interested in something. If the poor minorities want education it must start at home with at least one parent who gives a damn and tries as hard as they can to ensure their child rises up above the ignorance and poverty to make a successful life. But having known many poor and ignorant "minorities"(mainly Hispanics), I see a huge a problem because the parents are often so ignorant its hard to distinguish their behavior from their own children. So without a parent who is educated or even mature, how can they possibly inspire their children?

      This isn't true for everyone but for a majority, yes it is the truth. Even a 20 year outdated education would benefit them. They need English, writing, reading and basic math skills first. Then worry whether they will be the next John Carmack, Dennis Ritchie or Linux Torvalds.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:35PM (#45761447)
    - There are crazy stock valuations of computer companies that have almost no revenue.
    - People claim that everyone should write computer software including those with minimal STEM background and minmal interest in such.
    - When crazy articles about computer science racism starting appearing.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:36PM (#45761461)
    Computers science is a poor fit as a vehicle to level the playing field. Its not the sort of job you can do well if you don't have some sort of inherent interest or curiosity in.

    Certainly any group can have members that have such an interest in programming. Finding those individuals would be a good thing. I just have severe reservations against trying to push anyone into this field. I've seen too many programmers who got into the field not because they have any inherent interest or curiosity rather somebody told them it was a good career path. They don't do well.

    Should some sort of CS or programming classes be availably to anyone in K-12 that is interested or curious? Sure. It would be a great elective class.
    • by celle (906675)

      "Should some sort of CS or programming classes be availably to anyone in K-12 that is interested or curious? Sure. It would be a great elective class."

              Mod this guy up 100. Remember though, kids only go for the 'exciting' classes.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:15PM (#45761725) Journal

      Its not the sort of job you can do well if you don't have some sort of inherent interest or curiosity in.,

      I used to think that too, but since I've met a number of people who don't really like programming but are still very good at it. YMMV.

      • Its not the sort of job you can do well if you don't have some sort of inherent interest or curiosity in.,

        I used to think that too, but since I've met a number of people who don't really like programming but are still very good at it. YMMV.

        Don't like their employer, job, assigned programming tasks?

        Or if they were free to indulge in whatever project held some interest or curiosity they would not enjoy the necessary programming?

        I can understand getting burned out on tasks that are devoid of challenge or interest. I would just be surprised to find a person who was truly good at programming who never wrote a piece of code that was not a school nor work assignment. Who never did any programming simply because they were curious or otherwise p

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:39PM (#45761485)

    From near the end of the ECS Team Member [exploringcs.org] link:

    The learning environment of the more advanced computer science classrooms has supported the culture of these students and often made others to feel as "outsiders," as if their concerns, perspectives, were not valued in the field.

    So what exactly does that mean? I don't remember any CS classes having a "culture" of any kind. Unless they are saying that "dry and sometimes boring" is "white culture"?

    The whole reason you TAKE a CS class is because you are a relative "outsider" to the concepts being presented and want in.

    They talk about the solution being "vision of success" for all cultures. But in the end the only possible "success" from a CS class is a better understanding of how to build software. Not only is that not tied in to a culture, ideally it's not even tied to a language! It's totally abstract, yet they seem to want to make it more concrete somehow...

    I don't understand how the deride access as "not being enough" when access is EVERYTHING. Grafting hip-hip or graffiti into a college CS class is way, way too late. You want to help people from "other cultures" - well then figure out how to get them something they can and will program on when they are five years old up until college age. Then if it takes they will happily end up at the "dull" CS classes years later to learn mastery of the thing that they love.

    • by Max Threshold (540114) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:59PM (#45761617)
      I think CS has a culture, but what culture it does have is all its own. There is nothing intrinsically white or male about it, as evidenced by the fact that it's totally alien to the majority of white males.

      But perhaps the white males who thrive in CS do have one quality that enables them to succeed where others fail: the ability to assimilate into an alien culture without considering yourself a victim of its unfamiliarity. I suspect that all humans are born with this ability, but some people are taught that every difficulty they encounter in life is some form of victimization.

    • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:33PM (#45761829)

      I don't remember any CS classes having a "culture" of any kind. Unless they are saying that "dry and sometimes boring" is "white culture"?

      CS culture is the same any other cultural block - the sense that your peer group is superior because you believe or know something that other groups do not. You see it in Mac vs PC, Android vs iOS, Windows vs Unix, Debian vs Ubuntu, x86 vs MIPS, etc. It's the same thing that made the football team superior to the basketball team. Or Hondas better than Toyotas, or domestic cars better than foreign cars. Or vegan better than a regular diet. Or heavy metal better than pop. (Or vice versa for all of these)

      In other words, it's just the way people are. It affects all aspects of society including CS. If there's one black mark I'd give CS about this, it's that it tends to have a greater percentage of socially mal-adjusted people, and so tends to hang on to this sense of superiority more than other cultural blocks. Most regular people eventually figure out that it's not really important whether the football team is better than the basketball team, or whether you bought a Toyota or a Ford. But people in CS tend to defend and promote their preferred systems with almost religious fervor well into adulthood. This can be very off-putting to regular people thinking of getting into CS. (To be fair, it's a minority of people in CS who behave like this. But they can be a very vocal minority.)

      • Most regular people eventually figure out that it's not really important whether the football team is better than the basketball team, or whether you bought a Toyota or a Ford.

        I totally agree with your point that CS becomes a peer group, which is just a kind of human thing that happens.

        Where I disagree is that CS or programming in general gets any more people with social issues than any other. I've met lots of people who did NOT figure out the things you mentioned, who were fixated on something they assert

    • by pla (258480)
      The learning environment of the more advanced computer science classrooms has supported the culture of these students and often made others to feel as "outsiders," as if their concerns, perspectives, were not valued in the field.

      You nailed it, friend. That one quote pretty much demonstrates the entire problem with all these BS "discriminatory profession" arguments, whatever the profession.

      Someone's "culture" has fuck-all to do with programming; and their concerns and perspectives have no value to a co
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:46PM (#45761531)

    This is totally bullshit and it's being done for bullshit political reasons. Nothing good comes from the politicization of science and yet the politicians cannot resist making a political issue of the lack of "diversity" in CS education. In my own CS experience nobody gave a shit about whether you were black, white, asian or latino and yes we had all of those races represented in the program. What mattered was whether or not you could hack it and continue advancing through the curriculum. The grades were always on a curve and the competition was intense. If you weren't smart enough or fast enough you washed out. In CS, as in other sciences, people respect knowledge, ability and intelligence, not the color of your skin or your cultural background. If you wanted to major in foo-fa the Humanities department was on the other side of campus.

  • by Daniel Oom (2826737) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:49PM (#45761547)

    Children of English or British ancestry are handicapped by their cultural heritage, so they deserve extra stimuli and attention in education.

    Their language is fraught with an enormous vocabularity, which impediments their efforts to become literate. To make things worse, the spelling is arcane, non-intuitive, and non-phonetic, and then American, British, Canadian, etc. English have different spellings.

    Their ascent in the scientific and computing subjects is further jeopardised by a labyrinthine system of ancient units of measurement, which drives even the smart to seek a career in the humanities.

  • Graffiti? Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:54PM (#45761583)

    "Cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more."

    As a black software engineer I am tired of needing things dumbed down (or "hipped up") to be made more acceptable to minorities. We don't need skateboarding, "graffiti art", or dancing to teach a kid how to code. Just like we didn't need a substandard English (Ebonics) to teach kids how to properly read and write.

    If under representation of minorites in computer science is racist, I'd love to know what they think of the under representation of non-Asian minorities in all science, medicine, and technology fields. By their metric there would be rampant racism.

    Racism is a real thing, and a very terrible thing, and it's offensive to assume a lack of minority representation automatically means racism. I came from a culture that shunned academic excellence of any kind, and I think that's the reason there is under representation. But nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room which is asking people to blame their perceptions and beliefs instead of their environment. Racism makes a convenient enemy when the enemy is within.

  • Spot the trends (Score:3, Informative)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:00PM (#45761629)

    Colleges Cut Men’s Programs to Satisfy Title IX [nytimes.com]
    Sokal's Hoax [nyu.edu]
    Yes, There’s a War on Boys in Schools [nationalreview.com]
    What About Our Boys? [nationalreview.com]

    The direction this is likely to go is easily predictable.

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:09PM (#45761685)

    It's applied mathematics how much more abstract and removed do you want it to be ?

    What this is about is getting particular groups of people interested in the subject. That may be good or bad, but the problem is not with the material.

  • Kids aren't stupid. They know then they're being patronised by dumb adults trying to make something cool by being "down with the kids". If anything, doing this triggers suspicions that there is a bad taste or smell that needs masking.

  • The answer is no....slashdot used to be a great site....now it's all about theodp's jihad against code.org and "the man"
  • Complete nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:50PM (#45761949)

    These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications.

    I don't have personal relationships with concepts and applications. I have an intellectual relationship with them. I have personal relationships with people.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:28PM (#45762215) Journal

    Oh, probably, as much as anything is.

    Can People Make Money Off This?

    You betcha.

  • by fozzy1015 (264592) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:45PM (#45762337)

    IT/Software Development is one of the rare, if not unique, fields where people can be very paid well, the job market is currently hot, and one can learn everything from inexpensive books(or even free online courses) combined with motivation. It's positively egalitarian. If the premise had to do with medicine and law, where there's required expensive schooling and potential for a "good ol' boys" club atmosphere, then I'd find it more believable.

    When I've interviewed for development positions where the person went to school was of little importance. In fact, our CTO(who has his BS and MS in CS from Stanford) even jokes that it's the people straight from academia that sometimes seem the most incompetent. The only things we care about are if you know your stuff and have some body of previous work you can point to and talk about. But then I work in Silicon Valley where a competent developer can pretty much write his own ticket right now.

    My experience in commercial development the last 13 years had me working with females. They were almost always foreign born, often with English as a second language. Yes, it's mostly males, but a large part of them are East Asians and Indians, not all white males.

    In short, the bar of entry in my experience is low as long as you're motivated and competent. Why aren't there more women? Look at practically every engineering and scientific accomplishment in human history. Are you going to tell it's just culture that has kept those accomplishments relegated almost entirely to men?

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @11:12PM (#45764309)

    This is liberal political correctness run amok. It is a bunch of meaningless politically correct, victimization complex garbage. If the aformentioned groups fail to avail themselves of college education for these IT subjects, there is only one group for them to blame, themselves. No one is stopping them from doing so. The article is basically full of a nonsense, meaningless drivel and window dressing. The idea that they cannot learn what a b-tree is without a dicussion of graffiti and gang identification is absurd. The constant obsessive compulsive drive to find sexism and racism in everything is nauseating. Nowhere in computer science textbooks do I find anything that suggests that this field is off limits to the aforementioned groups. This is an example of someone inventing a controversy to both falsely accuse someone of non-existant infractions and create a scapegoating of people for whom are not responsible for whatever they are complaining about. I believe in personal responsibility, of group X or group Y feels they need a computer science education, do it, the fact computer textbooks do not have a discussion of hip hop music is not an excuse for them not being motivated to do so. Some wish to shift blame to others for these groups not doing X or Y, when these groups only have themselves to blame for not being motivated.

  • Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

    No. No. No. Fucking no!

    It is not. As a Hispanic, no one prevented me from getting into Computer Science, graduating from that field and making a good career out of it just based on my race, ethnicity or whatever. It was just me, myself and my efforts. My sister, being a Hispanic woman, she did not have a "racial" problem getting into Math (and graduating). There are no Jim-Crow-like establishments that prevents people like me from getting into STEM. So, no, Computer Science education is not racist.

    Saying so is just bullshit race baiting designed to distract people from the actual social problems that pervade the African American and Hispanic communities. It is a lot easier to race bait than to actually fix shit. This is pretty much what this whole endeavor amounts to.

    People choose STEM (and in particular Computer Science) based on a variety of social factors. In the US, women shy away to go into STEM, but you see this as less of an issue with the many Chinese and Indian female colleagues I have had the honor to work with. The same occurs with African American and Hispanic students.

    To begin with (and I say this from the POV of a minority) our African American and Hispanic cultures have significant problems that lead students away from certain subjects and careers. This is in parallel with American society at large where women are conditioned to stay away from STEM fields.

    Consider the following: it is well known that many African American kids (and Hispanic kids to a lesser) degree do not know how to swim. But we know that the causes are cultural as well as economical: African American and Hispanic neighborhoods are on average of a lower income than Non-Hispanic Caucasian and Asian communities, with poorer infrastructure and less amenities: that include pools. Furthermore, lower income means lesser variety of extra-curricular activities (including swimming.)

    But we don't go and ask "is swimming racist"? It would be a stupid question for obvious reasons. But why is it then that when people ask the same about Computer Science (and STEM in general) we do not see this as a stupid question?

    "Including culturally relevant instructional materials represented a driving focus of our course development," explained ECS Team members who now advise Code.org. "Cultural design tools encourage students to artistically express computing design concepts from Latino/a, African American, or Native American history as well as cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more. These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications – an important process for discovering the relevance of computer science for their own life." And — ironically for Code.org — it could mean less coding."

    Computer Science is the field of computing, an off shot of Discrete Mathematics. This is not about artistic expression, but hard science of numbers and computing. We could also propose the same for Math and Physics because not that many Hispanics and African Americans and American-born women go into those fields.

    The solution is not to plaster Computer Science education with multicultural trivia and singing kumbaya and shit. The solution involves solving the economic gaps that pervade in the African American and Hispanic communities (and let's be honest, to have those communities solve the systemic cultural issues that keep *us* from partaking in process of fostering technology and science.)

    Anything less than that is lipstick-on-a-pig, sugar-coating bullshit.

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