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Stuck in the Shallow End
The number of African Americans and Latino/as receiving undergraduate and advanced degrees in computer science is disproportionately low, according to recent surveys. And relatively few African American and Latino/a high school students receive the kind of institutional encouragement, educational opportunities, and preparation needed for them to choose computer science as a field of study and profession. In Stuck in the Shallow End, Jane Margolis looks at the daily experiences of students and teachers in three Los Angeles public high schools: an overcrowded urban high school, a math and science magnet school, and a well-funded school in an affluent neighborhood. She finds an insidious “virtual segregation” that maintains inequality. Two of the three schools studied offer only low-level, how-to (keyboarding, cutting and pasting) introductory computing classes. The third and wealthiest school offers advanced courses, but very few students of color enroll in them. The race gap in computer science, Margolis finds, is one example of the way students of color are denied a wide range of occupational and educational futures. Margolis traces the interplay of school structures (such factors as course offerings and student-to-counselor ratios) and belief systems—including teachers’ assumptions about their students and students’ assumptions about themselves. Stuck in the Shallow End is a story of how inequality is reproduced in America—and how students and teachers, given the necessary tools, can change the system.
About the Author
Jane Margolis is Senior Researcher at UCLA Center X at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She is the coauthor of Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing (MIT Press, 2002).
—Geoffrey Canada, President/CEO, Harlem Children's Zone, and author of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America
—Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College
—Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor in Education Equity, UCLA
—Mark Guzdial , School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
—Indira Nair, Vice Provost of Education, and Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Winner, Education category, 2008 PROSE Awards presented by the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.