Archive for March 20, 2010

White Boys are Boring: Demographic Impacts on Who We Teach

Georgia Tech is going through a strategic planning activity, where education is one of the focii. The goal is bold: To identify what Georgia Tech will and should be in twenty-five years.  That’s a long time!  To inform the discussion on education, we held “Days of Engagement” where students told us where Georgia Tech should be in 25 years and how they thought students should be taught then.

In discussions about the implications for the strategic plan for us in the School of Interactive Computing, I realized what was wrong with this picture.  Georgia Tech is 74% male, and 66% white (86% White + Asian) — with the percentages of being white and male much higher in STEM fields.  These aren’t at all like the kids we’re going to have 25 years.

By 2050, Whites are expected to be a minority in the United States. The percentage of women in the United States is risingTime predicts that the changing demographics of the United States are going to lead to dramatic changes over the next 10 years.  Certainly, these changes are going to impact who we teach and how we teach over the next 25 years.  We know that race matters when teaching, and that successful models teach differently for different cultural value systems.

Why ask a bunch of mostly white boys what they want in the future of education, when it won’t be students like them we’re educating?  White males are not the growth market for computing education, or STEM education more broadly.  In market-speak, white boys are boring.  We need to figure out different models for a different group of students.  We have to figure out how to broaden participation in computing, because the alternative is nobody in computing.  Demographically, white males are going away.

March 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm 9 comments


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