Facebook has announced the launch of TechPrep, an educational resource hub designed to boost diversity in computer sciences and technology. Announced on Tuesday, the social media giant said the company wishes to “widen the pipeline” when it comes to cognitive diversity. If a more diverse range of people — whether related to ethnic group or gender — are encouraged to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), then products can be built which better serve the global population. Maxine Williams, Facebook Global Director of Diversity said in a blog post that Facebook is working on a number of initiatives to build an “inclusive” culture. After researching the matter, the company said it discovered a lack of resources for parents, guardians and students who wish to know more — especially in the US within underrepresented groups such as black and Hispanic communities — which has led to the launch of TechPrep. TechPrep curates resources which are categorized depending on whether you are a guardian, parent, teacher or student, your age range and experience level. Reference materials, events lists, college preparation and live tuition sections are available. There is not a substantial range of resources on offer at the moment, however, this is likely to increase — and links are already available to learning systems such as EdX, Codeacademy and Coursera. Williams says TechPrep was created Tto address what it sees as a “lack of exposure to computer science and careers in technology,” especially prevalent in “underrepresented groups including Black and Hispanic communities.” TechPrep will be available in English and Spanish, and pulls together hundreds of resources including games, books, in-person opportunities, and community events (see all the resources here). To help children and guardians better understand the tech industry and career opportunities, Facebook breaks down types of programming, programming benefits, and the future of programming jobs. “By 2020 there will be 1 million programming jobs left unfulfilled,” Facebook says on the TechPrep website. “What are you waiting for?” It adds that these jobs will be rewarding for kids that choose to pursue them. “Jobs in programming and other computer occupations pay very well, and are increasing at twice the national average job growth rate according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Facebook goes on to break down some statistics it has compiled on underrepresented minorities in programming careers:
- 50 percent of Blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics say they would be good at working with computers, compared to 35 percent of Whites and 35 percent of Asians.
- 77 percent of parents say they do not know how to help their child pursue computer science. This increases to approximately
- 83 percent for lower-income and non-college graduate parents or 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 among Blacks and Hispanics is driven by reduced access to CS and CS programs, and is a major driver of Black and Hispanic drop-off when pursuing programming as a career path.
All these simply points to one fact: facebook is not resting on its oars to ensure that ICT gets to everyone. What can we say? Kudos Facebook