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Designing a Culturally Responsive Computing Curriculum for Girls

Kimberly Scott, Gregory Aist, Xiaolong Zhang


Computer science as a discipline faces challenges in recruiting students, particularly young women, who have been underrepresented from the United States’ economically stressed areas (e.g. African American, Latina, and Native American) continue to remain in the minority of the computer science population. One of the many explanations for this disparity is culturally irrelevant computer science activities that fail to consider women’s intersecting cultural identities or potential for making a social impact through their innovations. We attended to these issues by designing and implementing culturally responsive computer science exercises for a multimedia program, entitled COMPUGIRLS, targeting adolescent girls (ages 13–18) from the United States’ under resourced settings. This case study describes COMPUGIRLS’ original iteration, the curriculum design, and the lessons learned in embedding a discipline that historically has not considered cultural issues or social justice within a framework that prioritizes these concepts – a culturally responsive framework. In the end, we consider how instructors might adopt and adapt our process and exercises for various underprivileged communities.


gender; culturally responsive; technology; minorities

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