Facebook has launched a new portal geared towards women, students and their parents which have traditionally had less exposure to careers in coding as part of the company's push to increase minorities in technology. TechPrep is also targeted at parents and guardians, and seeks to analogise coding skills with language skills to make the subject of computer science less forbidding and opaque.
The website resources in English and Spanish to help young people and their parents explore how to get started in computer science, the jobs available to programmers and the skills required to become a programmer. "It's aiming to open up opportunities in the booming tech industry by tapping into a wellspring of interest among Blacks and Hispanics in careers in computer science.
"Though they are sharply underrepresented in the tech industry, Blacks and Hispanics aspire to careers as programmers, according to research Facebook conducted with consulting firm McKinsey. Half of Blacks and 42 per cent of Hispanics say they would be good at working with computers, compared with 35 per cent of whites and 35 per cent of Asians.
But 77 per cent of parents say they do not know how to help their kids pursue programming. That percentage is even higher for lower-income parents and parents who have not graduated from college. Educating parents is a critical step in getting more young people into tech.
Parents play a key role in encouraging women, Blacks and Hispanics to pursue computer science, the Facebook research found. TechPrep provides games, books, community events to help guide students and parents. Resources are available for all age and skill levels, said Maxine Williams, Facebook's global director of diversity.
"Parents and guardians are influential figures in students' lives," Williams said. "By exposing people to computer science and programming and guiding them to the resources they need to get started, we hope to reduce some of the barriers that block potential from meeting opportunity."