What do computer science and technology have to do with school counseling? Can counselors really increase diversity in the technology field? After attending the Counselors for Computing program this summer, I say the answer is YES!
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) exists to increase women’s participation in computing by working with K-12, higher education organizations and industry to decrease gaps in diversity. NCWIT reports there is a dire shortage of trained professionals in computer science fields. By 2024 only 45% of computing related jobs will be filled by US graduates completing a computing bachelor’s degree. In 2016, women comprised only 26% of the computing workforce and less than 10% were women of color.
While workforce issues should concern us, we should think of this as an equity consideration, too. All young people should have the opportunity to prepare for high-paying and creative careers in tech. Did you know a software engineer at Salesforce, Inc. in Indianapolis stands to make between $86,000 and $128,000 a year?
School counselors have a direct influence on students’ postsecondary career and education choices. From kindergarten through 12th grade school counselors encourage students daily to investigate potential careers and academic interests. NCWIT recognizes the role professional school counselors play in decreasing diversity gaps and leverages this human resource by sponsoring the Counselors for Computing program through regional workshops and during July’s Computer Science Professional Development Week (CSPdWeek).
I was first introduced to Counselors for Computing by my school’s AP Computer Science teacher. I applied for the summer 2017 CSPdWeek program and was one of 50 counselors who attended the program in Golden, Colorado. My goal was to learn more about achieving better diversity in the tech field and ways to eliminate bias in education.
The Counselors for Computing workshop taught me that school counselors can and should get involved in the push for more diversity in STEM and computer science by learning new computer skills. It is necessary for school counselors to reframe the idea that computer science is only for a specific type of person. Counselors must also confront their own biases and lack of confidence in regards to how they present computer science options to their students.
After the conference I applied for Pike’s Digital Learning Cadre - a professional development course intended to increase knowledge in integrating technology into education using a variety of tools including Twitter, Canvas and Google Drive. This course has expanded on what I learned at CSPdWeek, I am now creating content on Canvas to push out to 500 students at a time. I encourage all school counselors to take look at the list below. What can you do right now to increase knowledge and pass it on to your students?
Just a few ways school counselors can use technology to better assist students:
●Integrate more technology to streamline your day. Read this article if you are looking for a place to start.
●Know what you are talking about...learn to code for yourself. code.org has easy tutorials that are accessible to kids and adults.
●Run an Hour of Code activity during Computer Science Education Week or at any time that is convenient for your school. You don’t even need computers!
●Support an after school club related to technology or computer science (Girls Who Code, CoderDojo, FIRST Robotics/FIRST Lego League, AspireIT).
●Make connections with technology companies in your area to have them present at career days, host job shadow opportunities or mentor students.
●Use Twitter to reach more families and students and to interact with other school counselors. Follow the hashtag #scchat to grow your Professional Learning Community.
●Increase diversity in computer science by ADVOCATING for equal access to computer science curriculum for all students.
●Nominate a high school girl for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award. You can also encourage a colleague or apply yourself for the Educator Award
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Jamila Nassar. Jamila is a school counselor at Pike High School. She has been a school counselor for 10 years. Jamila embraces using technology in the workplace and is the faculty advisor for Girls Who Code and the school’s robotics team - the Pike RoboDevils.