We know that software has changed the world. But sometimes, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the technological innovations in the last 20 years and overlook the way that people—the inventors, tinkerers, and creators of software—have played a role in these changes. Yet when we lose sight of the people, we can take it for granted that only a select few have the opportunity to become software engineers in the first place. We may also lose sight of the pervasive inequality in the tech industry and how that affects both the future of technology and the future of the world.
Starting CS education early
Just last week we hosted the second installment of our FutureTalk Summer Series in San Francisco, where speaker Jessica McKellar addressed these issues and tied them to the need for quality K-12 computer science education. Jessica, as the director of the Python Software Foundation, has a long history of running diversity and outreach initiatives within the Python community. From organizing numerous Boston Python Workshops to mentoring at GNOME Outreach for Women, Jessica is an advocate for creating inclusive open source communities and is particularly passionate about improving access to K-12 CS education.
Why focus on K-12 computer science? Well for starters, college students are much more likely to choose a course of study if they’ve had prior experience with the subject. This, coupled with the fact that there are some states where not a single African American or Latino student takes the AP Computer Science exam, means that there’s a huge pool of potential developers left in the dust. These inequalities have long standing impact on the future of Python and other open source projects.
So, what can we do to lessen the achievement gap and inequality in Computer Science education? Check out Jessica’s talk below to find out.
Join us for future events
Want to experience FutureTalks SF in person? Join us on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014, for a FutureTalk with New Relic’s own Ward Cunningham, creator of the first wiki. Stay tuned for more FutureTalk updates and event details by joining our new Meetup group, New Relic FutureTalks SF, and following us on Twitter @newrelic.