f you’re looking for a career with good job secu-
rity and a great salary, you need look no further
than computer science. We live in an app-based
world, after all, where there’s an exponential-
ly growing need for software that meets the
needs of our modern-day life. Since 1990, jobs
in computer science have grown by 338 percent according
to a recent Pew Research Center report, making them the
fastest-growing occupations in the United States. These are
high-paying jobs too, with a current median salary of more
than $82,000 (which is almost double the national median in-
come), according to the US Labor Department.
However, while the field of computer science is brimming
with opportunity, women and minorities fill a disproportionately small number of these positions. According to the Pew
report, only 7 percent of computer jobs are filled by African
Americans and 7 percent by Hispanic workers, while these
populations comprise 12 percent and 17 percent of the US labor force, respectively. The report found that while women in
the states have come close to closing the overall labor force
gap (now filling 47 percent of jobs), their percentage in com-puter-related jobs has actually dropped from 32 to 25 percent
in the past three decades. The study observes an interesting
correlation: since personal computers came out and the public
perception set in that they’re primarily the domain of white
male gamers, the percentage of women in computer fields
has steadily dropped.
Big tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have
been in the national spotlight in recent years for their unequal
employment of women and minorities, and many of them
have launched programs to increase diversity in their workforces in response. Even while the public criticizes these programs for not doing enough (Google employs women in just
20 percent of its tech positions and Apple in just 23 percent),
there has simultaneously been a backlash, culminating in a
leaked internal memo written by ex-Google engineer James
Damore last July claiming that diversity programs at Google
resulted in reverse discrimination and that women were inherently less biologically suited to tech jobs.
“COMPUTER SCIENCE IS
SUBJECT IN ALL
EDUCATION, AND WE
SHOULD HAVE EQUAL
ACCESS TO STUDY IT.”
Amid the din of public debate, the nonprofit Code.org has
been addressing the diversity gap where it begins—at school.
Twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi launched Code.org in 2013
after immigrating from Iran. Formerly a developer for Microsoft
before becoming CEO of Code.org, Hadi said he experienced
first-hand how computer science could change the trajectory
of a person’s life. Now he spends his time trying to bring com-
puter science courses to every public school. Code.org has
developed curriculums, online courses, and outreach programs
that focus on including girls and students of color from kinder-
garten through high school. Their success has been outstand-
ing: they’ve reached 500 million students with their Hour of
Code events, they’ve prepped 72,000 new computer science
teachers, and helped 40 states change policies to support
bringing computer science into classrooms. In a conversation
with iPhone Life, Hadi Partovi responds to the diversity back-
lash and makes the case for why computer science needs
women and minorities more than ever.
Encouraging girls and underrepresented minorities to
learn computer science is a central part of your mission.
Why is that important?
This is important not only because computer science leads
to the best paying careers, but because in the 21st century, a
Students complete coding exercises using Code.org’s curriculums.
Less than half of America’s schools offer computer science courses,
but Code.org’s CEO Hadi Partovi is bent on changing that. “We’re
addressing the problem by making sure every school teaches computer science,” he said. Image source: Code.org