An Asset-Based Approach to CS Equity

The field of computer science (CS) struggles to expand the representation of women and minorities. To help strengthen a sense of belonging and confidence in the field for these underrepresented groups (URGs),
Google launched igniteCS (iCS), an educational mentorship program run by undergraduate CS students in the United States and Canada. This paper presents a qualitative study of iCS that found the program exemplifies an “asset-based” approach that grows out of the unique strengths and interests of URGs. The program’s peer support and leadership opportunities led to significant positive outcomes for undergraduates most at risk of dropping out of CS programs. These positive outcomes included: (a) psychological safety, (b) peer relationships in CS, and (c) identity transformation. The key design features that supported these outcomes included: (a) validating and sponsoring the strengths of youth from URGs, (b) supporting student autonomy and initiative, and (c) peer-to-peer and near-peer mentorship.

Ethnographic Research on Google igniteCS
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