The computing workforce continues to grow, but women of color remain largely underrepresented. Tuskegee University recently announced a $1.3 million grant program funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to prepare African-American girls in Alabama for careers in computer science.
The program is called Black Girls from Alabama for Computing. It is a collaboration between Tuskegee, the University of Alabama and Oakland University. The project is open to African-American high school girls who enroll in AP Computer Science. The bulk of it takes place during the summer, when students will split time between the University of Alabama and Tuskegee University. They will learn about careers in computing and prepare for AP computer science.
African-American women make up about 3% of the nation’s computing workforce. Mohammed Qazi, a professor at Tuskegee who helps lead the new project, says diversity is important. “It’s all about diversity of thought,” he says, “bringing different perspectives when one is solving a problem.” Qazi says there is a tremendous need for computer scientists in the U.S. He hopes to create a pipeline to recruit more minority girls to the field. The National Science Foundation will fund the program for three years.