|| By Maxine Williams, Global Director of Diversity ||
Diversity is central to Facebook’s mission of creating a more open and connected world – both because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s good for our product and business. Cognitive diversity matters because bringing together people of different characteristics enables us to build better products that serve nearly 1.5bn people around the world.
At Facebook, we’re working on a number of initiatives to widen the pipeline and build an inclusive culture. After looking closely at the data, we realized that one challenge is a lack of exposure to computer science and careers in technology, as well as a lack of resources for parents, guardians, and others who want to learn more. In the US, this lack of access is prevalent in a number of underrepresented groups including Black and Hispanic communities.
Today, we’re excited to introduce TechPrep (www.techprep.org), a resource hub where underrepresented people and their parents and guardians can learn more about computer science and programming and find resources to get them started. TechPrep brings together hundreds of resources, curated based on who you are and what you need, such as age range, skill level, and what kind of resource you are looking for. The website is designed for both English and Spanish speakers.
HOW TECHPREP WILL HELP
We created TechPrep in response to our understanding, supported by research from McKinsey, of the participation of underrepresented minorities in programming careers. We found:
- There was great self-confidence about their own potential among Black and Hispanic learners despite their underrepresentation in the industry. 50% of Blacks and 42% of Hispanics say they would be good at working with computers, compared to 35% of Whites and 35% of Asians.
- However, 77% of parents say they do not know how to help their child pursue computer science. This percentage increases to approximately 83% for lower income and non-college graduate parents/guardians. Yet being encouraged to pursue computer science by a parent or guardian is a primary motivator for women, Blacks, and Hispanics.
- Lower awareness of computer science in Blacks and Hispanics is driven by less access to both people in CS and CS programs, and is a major driver of Black and Hispanic drop-off when pursuing programming as a career path.
- Men are 5x more likely than women to say that they “know a lot about computer programming”.
TechPrep connects people to resources including games, books, in-person opportunities and community events to help learners as well as parents and guardians guide their kids in to computer science and programming. It also includes profiles of real people pursuing these careers.
Parents and guardians are influential figures in students’ lives. By exposing people to computer science and programming and guiding them to the resources they need to get started, we hope to reduce some of the barriers that block potential from meeting opportunity.