A group of US tech companies, including Apple, Google and Amazon, have come out in support of a new US government initiative that aims to get more disadvantaged and minority groups to study STEM subjects and computer science.
A statement from the White House, attributed to the president, announced the programme, saying that it would "better equip America’s young people with the relevant knowledge and skills that will enable them to secure high?paying, stable jobs throughout their careers”. It will be run by the US department of education.
While the group of aforementioned tech giants have largely been opposed to president Trump in regards to both social and economic issues, many of them are actually launching their own private initiatives to support the programme.
Critics have been particularly vocal in opposition towards both the president and secretary of education Betsy Devos, and some may argue that this investment of ‘at least $200 million’ is a token gesture after the government’s net cuts of more than $10 billion to education.
Still though, the scheme does promise positive changes that will add or increase focus on computing in existing K-12 and postsecondary programmes. But more than that, from a particularly UK-centric position it highlights how particularly poorly we are doing in this country, particularly when it comes to diversity.
August’s GCSE results showed that 30,000 more boys took computing than girls, and only 10 per cent of girls took the subject at A-Level. And this is a systemic issue as well. According to a survery from Accenture, 51 per cent of parents believe that STEM subjects are just for boys, with 42 per cent of teachers sharing that view.
That comes all the while UK schools have seen their first real-terms cuts since the mid-1990s. Spending per student is set to fall 6.5 per cent by 2019-20, in what the IFS calls the “largest shakeup in school funding in England for at least 25 years”.
While the UK is evidently following the Trump administration’s example when it comes to education cuts, it could perhaps do more to take heed of this initiative to involve more diversity in STEM and computing education