What is equity and social justice in Computer Science?

Computers and computer science were not always the domain of rich, white males, but like most things that have become integrated with education and capitalism, these systems have used computer science to perpetuate themselves. As computer science gets pushed into high schools and even down into elementary schools, the curricula are increasingly looking like “college-light”. These curricula are developed by rich, white, males with their own interests and goals in mind and therefore attract other rich, white males. The current solutions offered usually involve putting posters of people of color on the walls and having women programmers come in to speak to the students. While representation is crucial, it does not change the underlying systemic issues. It doesn’t matter how many people you attract to a program, if what you are teaching them has no relevance to them. Equity in computer science for me means redefining the goals of computer science. While showing salary ranges and opportunities in game development might attract some students, I believe that computer science itself could be the most powerful tool for equity that the world has ever seen and students could understand that from a very young age. The onus is on the curriculum designers to understand the goals of students who are not interested in succeeding in and contributing to white supremacy and to restructure the standards to meet those needs. It is only by changing the objectives of a computer science education that we can lean towards equity.

Posted in PhD