Reducing Stereotype Threat

Historically, women, minorities, and people with disabilities are underrepresented in computer science at many levels: out-of-school education, high school courses, college majors, PhD's, and the workforce. As our world becomes increasingly more reliant on technology, it is essential that all students have a basic understanding of computer science. And that the IT workforce is representative of our country's diverse population.

NCCSE carefully designs its curricula, such as Mobile CSP and CSAwesome, to be appealing to many different students and to employ evidence-based practices to support underrepresented groups. While these strategies support underrepresented students in particular, they are good teaching practices for all students. Below learn more about how students might feel marginalized in CS courses, what stereotype threat is for underrepresented students and how it impacts learning. We'll also introduce you to some of the strategies that can help improve the classroom environment.


Reducing Stereotype Threat in Computer Science Education (Slides)


Dr. Jane Margolis, a CS Education researcher at UCLA, describes how social/economic constructs often lead to "preparatory-privilege – kids who come from homes [with] multiple computers and where there are parents who know about computer science, these are the ones who come to school with all this background knowledge, and everyone then assumes that they are the only students with a ‘natural talent’ for the field. Many kids think, ‘I couldn’t do that.’ But, the truth is that they’ve never been introduced to it in a way that engages them and demystifies the field." (Harmon, 2013).

More Data and Resources:


Reflection Activity

Review the video or the slide presentation and then consider the following questions:

  • Instead of telling a girl student that she should take your class because we need more women in computing, a tactic that invokes stereotype threat, how might you use the techniques described in the presentation to talk with her about a computing class?

  • Consider a CS curriculum you use (e.g. CSAwesome or Mobile CSP). What aspects of the curriculum are designed to reduce stereotype threat?

  • What do you still want to know and learn about equity in CS education?