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“The workforce that creates technology should be representative of the people who use it, or there will be an inherent bias in design and interfaces.” Google Research Division

Take a moment to imagine what an employee in the computer industry looks like.  Did you imagine a geeky Caucasian or Asian male? Or did you imagine an African-American, Native American, female or individual with special needs?  What is it that our students imagine? What images of the computer science worker are depicted in popular culture? Kayla Mason, in her article, Computer Science’s Diversity Gap Starts Early quotes Chris Stephenson, former executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association who says that students often see “portrayals of people who never comb their hair, never have relationships, never do anything important and young women especially are turned off by that vision.”  

How might we change this vision so that underrepresented students (females, ethnic minorities) see computing as an exciting path leading from K-12 experiences into college and/or viable careers?  

Why it Matters
Computer science occupations are represented in all industries from medicine to manufacturing. According to data compiled by, computing and information technology careers are outpacing available workers.   Further, there is a push by technology leaders to engage underrepresented minorities in computing.  Among those are Google and Facebook. Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Global head of diversity says, "We build products to connect the world, and this means we need a team that understands and reflects many different communities, backgrounds and cultures." Google asserts that since computing occupations are among the most lucrative and fastest growing, engaging more minorities will reduce social inequity. 

Computer Science in South Carolina’s K-12 Schools
Marginalized in K-12 curricula in South Carolina, computer science is not offered as a graduation requirement in high school, nor do many schools teach computer programming as a course.  Only 19 schools offer AP Computer Science and only 326 high school students in South Carolina took the AP Computer Science exam in 2014. While these are overwhelming statistics for South Carolina in general, it is even more alarming for our underrepresented groups. Of all students who took the AP Computer Science Exam in 2014, only 24% were female; only 8 of these students were Hispanic and only 10 were African-American. (See additional states’ stats here).  
Pique Student Interest
K-12 students of all genders and ethnicities are voracious consumers of technology from social media to gaming. Recognizing this, a number of corporate sponsors have launched a global initiative to engage all students in computer science through coding. The approach includes assembling a diverse group of successful individuals from business, sports, politics, and the entertainment industry to target all students and appeal to those in underrepresented groups.    Learn more about the non-profit efforts at

Questions for Educators to Consider
  • What efforts are we making to transform student mindsets from that of technology consumer to creator? 
  • What actions might we take to pique student interest in computer science related college courses and careers?
  • What successes have you experienced? What are some lessons you have learned?
In our December issue, we would like to share some of your success stories and tips for engaging students in computer science with particular emphasis on students in our underrepresented populations. 

Here’s how to share:  Post your successes and stories on our Facebook page, share via Twitter (@S2TEMCentersSC), or email us prior to November 10!
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015). Computer and Information Technology Occupations.       
Mason, Kyla C. (2014)  Computer Science’s Diversity Gap Starts Early. PBS.               
Johnson, Maggie. (2015) The Computer Science Pipeline and Diversity: Part 1 - How did we get here?     Google Research Division.

Williams, Maxine. (2014) Building a More Diverse Facebook. Statistics and Information (2015)

Upcoming Events

Various Dates and Locations around South Carolina
Read to Succeed: Content Area Reading and Writing for Middle School and Secondary Teachers (iDEAL) - SC Regional PD Sessions

November 6, 2015
SC2 Conference
Columbia Convention Center, Columbia, SC
S²TEM Centers SC Sessions:
  • Classroom Management
  • iDEAL (integrating Disciplinary Experiences Around Literacy)
  • S.T.E.M. to STEM
  • Exploring a STEM Teaching Fellows Program
November 12 -13, 2015
2015 SCCTM Fall Conference
Greenville TD Center, Greenville,  SC
S²TEM Centers SC Sessions:
  • Developing STEM Habits of Mind
  • Learning Math through Engineering: Designing and Building Kites (Grades 3-5)
  • Learning Math through Engineering: Designing a Candy Box (Grades 6-8)
  • Exploring a STEM Teaching Fellows Program
  • Learning Math through Engineering: Designing a Bridge (K-2)
  • Strategies for Mathematical Discourse (6-8, 6-12)
  • Math Circles – Learning Math through Engineering and Project/Problem-Based Learning in Mathematics
  • Family STEM Night: Tips and Ideas (K-5)
  • Profiles Encourage: How STEM + Arts Transforms Learners and Learning
  • Learning Math through Engineering: Wheelchair Ramps (9-12)
  • Exploring a STEM Teaching Fellows Program
  • Is Your School STEAM Ready?
  • Strategies for Developing Mathematical Vocabulary
December 10, 2015
Upstate STEM Collaborative Meeting, 2:00-4:00 pm
University Center, Greenville, SC

January 13 - March 29, 2016
Understanding Measurement in the Elementary Classroom:  Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 13 - March 29, 2016
Content and Applications for Middle Level Mathematics with a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course
January 13 - March 29, 2016
Understanding Geometry: Teaching from a Student Centered Perspective
Online Course

Februrary 6, 2016
Charleston STEM Festival
Charleston, SC

March 23, 2016
Lowcountry Regional STEM Symposium
Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC
April 2, 2016
iMAGINE Upstate Festival
Greenville, SC
Now Available—FREE Online!
S2TEM Centers SC Innovation Configuration Maps (IC Maps)
Characteristics of High Functioning STEM Schools

S2TEM Centers SC is proud to announce the release of our newly revised Innovation Configuration Maps (IC Maps) for STEM Schools and schools wanting to become more STEM-Minded.  Innovation Configuration Maps, or IC Maps, offer a picture of what specific STEM educational innovations “look like” when well implemented.
The S2TEM Centers SC IC Maps provide a meta-analysis of the most current research and best thinking from the field.  These free tools help individuals and organizations figure out where they are on their pathway to becoming a high functioning STEM school and what they need to do to move toward reaching their STEM goals. 

What S2TEM Centers SC clients say about their Professional Learning Experience...

"This day helped me find my voice for helping teachers be better teachers.  I have a more firm grasp of language to use with teachers to help them achieve their professional goals."

Sondra Hennessee, Instructional Coach
Dacusville Middle, Pickens
Getting Started with Coaching
“It made me think about the type of coaching conferences that I have with the teachers in my building. This was an excellent reflective practice that I plan to implement more regularly in the school.”

Ainsley Posey, Reading Coach
West End Elementary, Pickens
Cognitive Coaching

“My current focus is incorporating more writing in my classroom, so this session helped provide strategies to get students to write more while still reaching my instructional goals.  I have used the Chalk Talk strategy, but none of the others. I plan to incorporate many (maybe all) of the new strategies discussed today.  Great presenter and great information! I love the S²TEM Centers!”
Ashley Stephens, Teacher
Gettys Middle School, Pickens
Reading & Writing Strategies in the Math Classroom

Copyright © 2015 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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