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Education The Almighty Buck

To Solve the Diversity Drought in Software Engineering, Look to Community Colleges (vice.com) 336

An anonymous reader shares a report: Community college is not flashy and does not make promises about your future employability. You will also likely not learn current way-cool web development technologies like React and GraphQL. In terms of projects, you're more likely to build software for organizing a professor's DVD or textbook collection than you are responsive web apps. I would tell you that all of this is OK because in community college computer science classes you're learning fundamentals, broad concepts like data structures, algorithmic complexity, and object-oriented programming. You won't learn any of those things as deeply as you would in a full-on university computer science program, but you'll get pretty far. And community college is cheap, though that varies depending on where you are. Here in Portland, OR, the local community college network charges $104 per credit. Which means it's possible to get a solid few semesters of computer science coursework down for a couple of grand. Which is actually amazing. In a new piece published in the Communications of the ACM, Silicon Valley researchers Louise Ann Lyon and Jill Denner make the argument that community colleges have the potential to play a key role in increasing equity and inclusion in computer science education. If you haven't heard, software engineering has a diversity problem. Access to education is a huge contributor to that, and Denner and Lyon see community college as something of a solution in plain sight.
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To Solve the Diversity Drought in Software Engineering, Look to Community Colleges

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  • alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by micahraleigh ( 2600457 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:22PM (#55674097)
    How about we start allowing ourselves to hire developers over 45 ?
    • Re:alternative (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:37PM (#55674205)

      We don't want Old guys who specialized on these old time sharing mainframe systems where you had a big system, and you had charged the customer for the computing needed then provided the data remotely back to them. To be working the state of the art cloud computing platforms, where we charge the customer for the computing needed then provide the data remotely back to them.
      Or these guys who specialized in Witting desktop apps for Single use PC's with under 4 gigs of RAM and screen sizes under 12" to be making mobile apps on these mobile devices with under 4 Gigs of Ram and screen sizes under 12".

      A lot of the new stuff, is just a rehash of older technology, the theory behind it is the same, just some of the details have been improved.

      • Yeah, but we're old WHITE guys, which diversity experts say shouldn't have jobs anymore.

        Diversity is just skin deep, you know.

        Couldn't possibly, say, hire these old white guys to teach at community colleges, now could we?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lips ( 26363 )
        I'm 50 and the only thing that has been constant in my 28 year career is change. I'm still changing and learning. Here are the things I've worked with.
        • serial data comms, X25, TCP/IP
        • messaging
        • who has used a HP protocol analyser? these days I use Wireshark
        • Unix (BSDs), Linux, Windows
        • PHP/FI
        • C
        • x86 assembly
        • Pascal
        • VB 3/4/5/6
        • VB.NET, C#
        • .Net Framework and related stuff like EF, MVC
        • Java
        • Javascript/JQuery/AJAX
        • Python
        • Perl
        • Fortran
        • bash, dos, powershell scripts
        • virtualisation but not cloud yet unfortunately
        • Scru
    • I agree that this is part of the solution. Not everyone over 45 keeps their skills up to date, but painting _everyone_ over 45 with the same brush makes it less likely that they'll bother trying.

      Part of the problem is the "worshipping of rockstars" culture. The flashy, self-promoting 25 year olds who crank out code 100+ hours a week because they have no other obligations are what gets the press. What gets the press gets the attention of the MBAs writing the checks. Standing out in an environment like that w

      • Part of the problem is the "worshipping of rockstars" culture. The flashy, self-promoting 25 year olds who crank out code 100+ hours a week because they have no other obligations are what gets the press. What gets the press gets the attention of the MBAs writing the checks. Standing out in an environment like that working normal hours and producing steady good-quality results is hard.

        Well, you do the standing out and resume experience gathering while you are young and can do it.....with the eye on the futu

      • We are talking here about computer science.
        There is no need to keep you skill 'up to date' (unless in windows administration perhaps)
        Computers and 'stuff' workes the same since 80 years.

        Why the fuck anyone thinks that programming in power shell versus bash is a 'big deal' is beyond me.

    • I don't work in software at all, so naive question: is it actually age discrimination or is it a "Kids fresh out of college are willing to work for lower wages and we can't understand the concept of you get what you pay for"?

      In my field (biology) it's entirely the latter. People would be willing to hire a 50 year old for a ton of jobs. The 50 year old would need to be willing to get paid like an intern would though, and a 50 year old willing to work for that little might raise some red flags...
  • Solve? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:24PM (#55674103)

    There isn't a diversity problem. Diversity isn't related to any challenges in software engineering.

    • Re:Solve? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:38PM (#55674213)

      As a white man, given the choice to work with either another white guy or with a cute asian woman who's single, I'd pick the asian woman. Not because I'm a man, but because I'm a man AND a lonely nerd.

      • Re:Solve? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:58PM (#55674399) Homepage Journal

        As a white man, given the choice to work with either another white guy or with a cute asian woman who's single, I'd pick the asian woman. Not because I'm a man, but because I'm a man AND a lonely nerd.

        Well, you'd pretty much better never TALK, email, IM or otherwise communicate with her.

        Otherwise you'll likely see yourself losing your job due to "sexual" harassment. And even if you keep to yourself, if she doesn't like you, even the hint you were ever inappropriate to any woman since you were just DNA is enough to get you tossed out on your keister, so....be careful for what you wish for.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I and may othres have worked with many women over the years and had no problems at all. If you're continually having trouble, the most likely explanation is that you are the problem not them.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I talk to, email and go out for lunch with the women I work with. Never been accused of anything.

      • http://www.tagged.com/ [tagged.com]
        They are easy to find there ... and against popular believe, they love white nerdy men ...

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I'd pick the competent one. Whichever it is.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:27PM (#55674121)

    credits may not transfer and few offer 4 year degrees.

    Even when credits do transfer some 4 year Colleges may force you to retake classes or say you may have X credits but only some of them counted to what you need to get the degree from us.

    • by jlechem ( 613317 )
      This is why you should always make sure you're attending an accredited college. Also if you get an associates degree almost all universities will accept that as you lower general education.
    • credits may not transfer

      In most states, credits from CCs are guaranteed to be transferable to the state's 4 year public universities. In California it is easier to transfer credits from a CC into the UC system that to transfer from the "Cal State" system. The CCs are explicitly set up as an affordable pipeline into the 4 year public universities.

      and few offer 4 year degrees.

      That is not what CCs are for.

    • If they only said "college" it might not transfer, but they said "Community College" so it usually does.

    • If you attended an accredited college, the courses should count. Now, as part of the degree requirements at the community college you may need to take classes that are not required for the bachelor's degree at your next university, and won't transfer.
  • problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:31PM (#55674145)

    If you haven't heard, software engineering has a diversity problem

    There's unequal participation. That doesn't mean there's a problem.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      In the mind of those where fixing the statistic fixes reality (i.e. the most dumb SJWs with the absolute least understanding of reality), unequal participation must of course always be because of discrimination. That people of different genders and of different cultural backgrounds may just make different choices (if they are free to make these choices according to what they want) is an idea these SJWs cannot understand. Hence they basically follow a fascist approach where people have to be forced to be equ

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:31PM (#55674149)
    Does diversity results in better code? Please provide citations.
    • by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:50PM (#55674323)

      The best developer on my team is a girl from Vietnam. My experience has been that diversity is a good thing, but I'm not convinced that there is a "diversity problem". We're so desperate to find competent developers that we couldn't be discriminatory if we wanted to be.

      • How do you prove this is diversity, and not just the result of a brilliant enough mind to free herself from the communists and come here?

      • This.
      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        The best developer on my team is a girl from Vietnam.

        Is the only reason she's the best because she's both a girl and from Vietnam ? Because if so, all programmers should now be Vietnamese Girls and thus diversity is bad.

        Or is it because she's simply the best programmer, regardless of her sex and nationality ? Because if so, then diversity of skin color, nationhood, and sex don't matter.

        So which is it, is diversity bad or does it simply not matter ?

      • YMMV but I have found that women have a moderating effect on the team and much less stressful if you are > 22 YO....
      • by scsirob ( 246572 )

        Your experience is that this particular Vietnamese girls is a great developer. That has nothing to do with 'diversity'. You hired her for her developer skills, not because she was Vietnamese or that she is able to give birth.

        • You hired her for her developer skills, not because she was Vietnamese or that she is able to give birth.

          How do you know he didn't hire her because he has an Asian fetish, and it just so happened that she was actually good at coding?

    • No, it results in more diverse code. The mostly-white, mostly-male, mostly-young, mostly-upper-middleclass, mostly-Apple-using coders of Silicon Valley produce products that serve their own needs (and the needs of people like them) very well, but that doesn't represent the needs of the country (or world) as a whole.
      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        No, it results in more diverse code. The mostly-white, mostly-male, mostly-young, mostly-upper-middleclass, mostly-Apple-using coders of Silicon Valley produce products that serve their own needs (and the needs of people like them) very well, but that doesn't represent the needs of the country (or world) as a whole.

        And what is preventing non-white, non-male, non-young, non-upper-middleclass, non-Apple coders from picking up a book on programming and solving their own needs ? Sounds like a problem Capitalism can solve.

        What skin color specific software do you need made ? And how much are you paying ?

      • 'Coders' don't define what people 'need'.
        Product managers, product owners, comapies do.

        I'm fed up with the Apple hater bullshit.

        I write the code my customer wants me to write. And my customer does not care that I use a Mac for it.
        And: I stick it into your mouth! I write it in Java ... deal with it.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Any kind of craft suffers if people are pushed into it not on merit but on secondary characteristics. That is simple statistics.

      Software engineering is beyond hope at this time though, because of far to many mediocre and bad people in it that nowhere near deserve to be called "engineer".

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:31PM (#55674153)

    In order to solve something, there must be a problem first. As long as no one consciously attempts to exclude a group, there is no issue. If women or Blacks or whoever feels uncomfortable, that's their problem to solve. It's not anyone's job to make someone else comfortable. If more women join, the atmosphere will change of its own. No one needs to force "diversity training" (unfortunately, it's a thing) on anyone.https://news.slashdot.org/story/17/12/04/1915224/to-solve-the-diversity-drought-in-software-engineering-look-to-community-colleges#

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      If women or Blacks or whoever feels uncomfortable, that's their problem to solve. It's not anyone's job to make someone else comfortable.

      Actually it is, and there are plenty of laws about it.

    • As long as no one consciously attempts to exclude a group, there is no issue. If women or Blacks or whoever feels uncomfortable, that's their problem to solve.

      So you think it's ok to be sexist and/or racist as long as you're not consciously doing it?

      No that's bullshit. To go be a problem you must not actually be excluding groups. Whether or not you are being conscious about it or not is irrelevant to the group you're excluding. In other words, your precious feelings don't matter, only your actions.

    • As long as no one consciously attempts to exclude a group, there is no issue.

      I assume you apply the same logic to everything else, not just this, right? If you forget about gravity, you can fly! Right?

      Or does it not actually make any fucking difference at all if you did it consciously or unconsciously, if you actually did it? Your argument seems to be that since you refused to admit why you did it, you think people will refrain from even being able to see the problem. But that is some pretty weak Theory of Mind! Expect to always lose that argument, and if you have it at work, to be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:40PM (#55674229)

    At least in the minds of everyone but the Social Justice Warrior set.

    Being a different skin color or sex doesn't improve coding ability. The year is 2017, not 1959; there are no legal structures keeping black people from studying programming or being hired by any company who choses to do so. Jim Crow is dead.

    Stop pretending that the United States of America is the most racist nation in the world, when in actually it is probably the least racist country.

    Just stop shoving this SJW bullshit down our throat, Slashdot. It isn't helping, and it isn't working.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Stop pretending that the United States of America is the most racist nation in the world, when in actually it is probably the least racist country.

      Stop with this bullshit binary thinking. No, just because the U.S. might not be the most racist nation in the world does not make it the least racist nation.

      • It's far less racist than Norway, Sweden and Denmark....who are all about hating other white people with blue eyes and blond hair.

        It's far less racist than South Korea, North Korea, and Japan- who are all about hating other Asian people.

      • Institutional racism was eliminated from the United States many years ago.

        Personal/individual racism is still an issue, but it's foolish to think you can totally eliminate it from a heterogenous and free society. People are racist for lots of reasons, sometimes they are socialized to be racist and sometimes they develop racist thoughts and beliefs through interactions with other groups. There's nothing you can do about either one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aighearach ( 97333 )

      If you want to be against social justice that is fine, but just don't whine about it being "unfair" when you get fired. Remember, you're against social justice, so don't complain.

  • Big fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:42PM (#55674245)

    I'm a big fan of Community Colleges for one reason, they're inexpensive. I think we can all agree that you don't need a degree to be a good software engineer, although a degree can increase the salary you can demand and the return on investment is worth it.

    Given that, it makes sense to start in a Community College and then finish up at a local in-state university. If I look at Salt Lake Community College and Weber State University in Utah you could do this for under $20k with room to spare.

    In the end, it's how well you can program, not what school you went to.

    • I'm a big fan of Community Colleges for one reason, they're inexpensive.

      Me too! (And I'm a graduate of Weber State University, since you mention that, and I do campus outreach/recruiting to WSU on behalf of my employer, Google. Weber isn't a CC, but it's one step up, and many WSU students start at SLCC or similar).

      I think we can all agree that you don't need a degree to be a good software engineer

      I'm less certain of that. Oh, the piece of paper is meaningless, but the education in CS and SWE fundamentals is important. While it's possible to acquire it auto-didactically, relatively few people can do that effectively.

      In the end, it's how well you can program, not what school you went to.

      I'm not sure I agree with that, either, thoug

  • by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:43PM (#55674261) Homepage

    Here in Portland, OR, the local community college network charges $104 per credit.

    Thanks entirely to the Democratic ownership of the state legislature and the governorship, Oregon promises free community college for any legal state resident starting out college from highschool (or GED), who isn't a trust fund baby, and has at least a 2.5 GPA, via the Oregon Promise Grant [oregonstudentaid.gov]. You do have to file out some forms, but then you're golden.

    You must meet all of the following criteria:

    • Complete an Oregon Promise Grant Application by the appropriate deadline
    • File a FAFSA or ORSAA application and list at least one Oregon community college
    • Be a recent Oregon high school graduate or GED recipient
    • Document a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA or higher; or a GED score of 145 or higher on each test
    • Plan to attend at least half-time at an Oregon community college within 6 months of high school graduation or GED completion
    • Be an Oregon resident for at least 12 months prior to college attendance
    • Must not have more than 90 college credits completed or attempted
    • Beginning with Fall 2017 applicants, students may be subject to eligibility criteria based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC limit for 2017-18 applicants is $18,000. New applicants who are above the EFC limit will not be eligible for an award. The EFC criteria is subject to change.

    There are plenty of web development classes as well.

    • Here in Portland, OR, the local community college network charges $104 per credit.

      Oregon promises free community college for any legal state resident starting out college from highschool (or GED), who isn't a trust fund baby, and has at least a 2.5 GPA, via the Oregon Promise Grant [oregonstudentaid.gov]

      "For full-time students, awards range from $1,000 to $3,540 per year (in 2017-18)"

      • Which would be an issue if the cost for community college in Oregon didn't hover around $100/credit. 12 credits a semester and you're looking at $2,400 for the year. If you click the link at the end of that sentence, you get this:

        Oregon Promise will cover up to the average tuition charged by an Oregon community college ($3,540 in 2017-18). Some community colleges have a higher or lower tuition cost than this average. If the tuition cost is above the average, the student is responsible for the difference. If the tuition cost is below this average, Oregon Promise pays up to that college’s actual tuition cost.

        So it does appear to be free community college tuition, despite the amounts looking shockingly low. But if your local branch is more expensive, you might have to commute to another one to get your education closer to free.

    • Here in Portland, OR, the local community college network charges $104 per credit.

      Thanks entirely to the Democratic ownership of the state legislature and the governorship, Oregon promises free community college for any legal state resident starting out college from highschool (or GED)....

      And the Republican legislature of Tennessee says "Welcome to the club, Oregon! [tnpromise.gov] What took you so long?".

      The fact is, a lot of states are doing it. California offers one year of college. Rhode Island offers 2. New York even includes 4 year institutions. Last month the city of Dallas got in on the action [dallasnews.com]..

      Sadly, it's not quite as good as it sounds. They aren't simply dropping the cost of community college to zero. What these things are is a "last dollar" scholarship where they ensure you first get all th

  • I totally agree that community college can be a good base for studying computer science and software development, for much cheaper than a "real" university.

    But honestly even that is not required at this point. There are so, so many online resources for learning software development now, I can't help but think that you really do not need a college at all.

    The one area a real course helps with is defined goals and feedback. But there are places online like Udacity that can offer even that.

    I am personally con

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @02:48PM (#55674303)

    I agree that looking to other sources for hiring programmers is a good thing. Not everyone is rich or brilliant enough to go to Stanford and get a CS degree, nor does every developer in your company need to be a Stanford grad. I'm in systems engineering with no formal university training...I got a degree in chemistry way back when. Since most of what I do is integration work getting developers' "masterpieces" working in production, it's very clear that a large percentage of developers have very little idea about how the machines their code runs on work.

    Real computer science education starts pretty close to first principles and builds up. It doesn't start at a web framework or query language 478 levels of abstraction up the stack and work down. The big problem with "software engineering" is that people actually do need some of this first-principles understanding to be useful outside of the abstracted environments. Both community college and university education is often derided as being too theoretical because unlike coder bootcamps they don't start you off at a point where most problems are solved. But if inexperienced developers had some clue about how the magic box works beyond gluing together more magic libraries and frameworks on top, software quality might improve.

  • Qualifications, skill, and experience are what is going to get you hired in tech, male or female. If you do well in the technical interview, then you will probably get the offer. I feel I'm somewhat qualified to say this because I've often been the technical interviewer. Between my current gig, IBM, and Oracle (previous gigs), I just counted over 250 interviews for approximately 20 positions filled. I believe (strongly) that being female would have resulted in a *positive* bias, not negative (guys would hav
  • We might not get the best of the best of the best of the best!!!

    Not that college/University grads are that either, but it not "best practices"

  • is a good integrated, CHEAP university system in more cities and states. Take the NYC university system -- it has schools ranging from community colleges to 4 year universities to graduate schools. Pricing is either free or at most 6 to $8000 per year for in-state tuition. And credit tends to transfer easily between schools, so someone who does well at a community college can move into a 4 year school to finish a bachelor's degree.

    But no, a lot of states and cities have a public university system that co

  • I'm not making this up, but I wish that I were. I'm a computer science Ph.D. with a lot of teaching experience. Recently, a community college in California wanted to hire me to teach a computer literacy class as part of the Year Up program. I was emailed a 203-page pdf of hiring materials. There, buried on page 37, was a loyalty oath that I was required to sign as a condition of employment. It is reproduced below. I refused to sign it and was not hired. Is this the fascist left or the fascist right? Califor
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @05:32PM (#55675705)

    Software engineering is a field that is still more art than craft. It will remain that for the foreseeable future. That has been known for a long, long time now. And for an art, you need an aptitude or you will never be any good. While we definitely should get anybody with that aptitude into it, we must get rid of all those without it, because their lack of skill is costing society extremely. Mediocre software engineers have negative productivity, sometimes massively so. "Diversity" will be a side-result of that. Not that "diversity" actually has any value when the individuals are all highly skilled. Highly skilled individuals in any STEM field are rare enough that all that can be found will have very good opportunities. Diversity only has a place in jobs most people can do because only there can you realistically discriminate.

  • Let's assume we have known populations A, B, C, D, and E. Each population is roughly equally divided between populations X and Y. We've done testing on intelligence and psychological tendencies on all these groups. We can say that A has the highest intelligence, B the lowest, C about average, D slightly above average, and E slightly below average. When grouped by X and Y we can see that, on average, Y scores higher in intelligence but X is lower. This is not generally disputed. People may argue if thi

  • When you get all the applications sort them for the skills needed.
    People that have listed that they have the skills for the job.
    Hire a large company that can do background checking to look over the list of names who say they have the needed skills.
    Did all the information in the resume match an actual educational history?
    Get good grades at a good university that still gradates on merit, has tests and exams?
    Did they get social advancement considerations to get into an average university?
    Did they get soc

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