US student participation in computer science lags interest

Highlights of history

  • 62% of fifth to 12e-Primary level students interested in computers
  • 49% took a computer course at school

Editor’s Note: The research below was conducted in partnership between Amazon and Gallup.

WASHINGTON, DC – More than three in five American students in Grades 5 to 12, 62%, are interested in learning computers. However, much less, 49%, took such a course in their school.

Interest and experience of American students in grades 5 to 12 with computer science

Interested in learning / knowing more about IT 62
Have learned computer science in a classroom at school during school hours 49
Amazon Future Engineer / Gallup Student study, 2021

These findings come from the Future Amazon engineer/ Gallup Student Study over 4,000 fifth to 12e-First year students conducted June 2-20, 2021. This research comes at a critical time for computer science education nationwide, as organizations continue to seek new ways to increase and improve the diversity of the IT talent pool. This is among the most detailed information available in the full report.

Similar interest in computing across racial and ethnic groups

Computer skills are currently among the most sought after in the US job market, given the shortage of qualified candidates to fill available computer positions. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that IT and computer related jobs will increase by 11% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the national employment growth in his outfit.

BLS data shows that in 2020, black computer programmers made up only 6% of people in this occupation; Hispanic programmers, 7%. Growing diversity in IT is therefore essential for expanding the national pipeline. A growing number of schools and programs nationwide are focused on increasing exposure to high-quality computer education for students from all walks of life to inspire long-term interest.

Gallup finds that interest in taking these types of courses is similar across all racial and ethnic groups, with 63% of white students, 60% of black students, and 61% of Hispanic students expressing interest in learning the language. computer science. Interest is slightly higher for Asian students, at 71%.

There is little difference between income levels, but there is considerable variation by gender. Girls are much less likely than boys to be interested in these courses, from 53% to 72% respectively.

Interest in computer science by income and race / ethnicity

Are you interested in learning more about IT?

Yes No
% %
White students 63 37
Black students 60 40
Hispanic students 61 39
asian students 71 29
Household income 59 41
Household income $ 48,000 to 61 39
Household income $ 90,000 + 64 36
Amazon Future Engineer / Gallup Student Study, 2021

Differences based on gender are true for all racial / ethnic groups except among black students, as black boys and girls are also likely to be interested in these courses.

Participation in computer classes lowest among black, Hispanic, and low-income students

While interest in these courses is equally high among white, black, and Hispanic students, participation in computer classes is highest for white (52%) and Asian (50%) students and lowest for black (42%) and Hispanic (44%) students. students. Likewise, although interest varies little by income group, students from low-income households are also less likely to have taken a computer course. Only 37% of students in households with an annual income of less than $ 48,000 reported taking a computer course, compared with 45% of students in households earning $ 48,000 below $ 90,000 and 53% of those who earn $ 90,000 or more.

Female students (47%) are slightly less likely than male students (51%) to report taking a computer course.

Participation in computer courses by income and race / ethnicity

Where did you learn computer science? Percentage who selected “In a classroom at school during school hours”

White students 52%
Black students 42%
Hispanic students 44%
asian students 50%
Household income 37%
Household income $ 48,000 to 45%
Household income $ 90,000 + 53%
Amazon Future Engineer / Gallup Student study, 2021

Final result

Despite the significant investments and emphasis placed on improving access to computer education at the national level by presidential administrations, non-profit organizations and tech companies themselves in recent years, inequalities persist. Students from lower income levels – and from historically marginalized populations – are less likely to have taken a computer course.

These differences in student participation exist despite strong interest from all race / ethnicity and income groups, and they confirm that the inequalities are due to a lack of supply and not to demand. Reducing these imbalances at the high school level is key to generating long-term interest in a career in IT and improving diversity in the field.

The growing interest of young girls is also essential. Unfortunately the Future Amazon engineer/ Gallup Student Study confirms other Gallup research that young girls are less interested than boys in a future in computer science. Increasing the number of female role models in the field and helping young girls understand the variety of careers available with computer training is important in helping them envision a future in the field.

Read it full report for more detailed results on access and interest in computing. Learn more about the Amazon Future Engineer program here.

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