whether there are unique barriers faced by women of color that
affect their interest, participation, and persistence in computer
science. This research will go beyond examinations of experiences of girls of color [ 20], and look comparatively at experiences and outcomes of both gender groups to further explore
the double-bind facing women and girls of color in computing.
Given the underrepresentation of women in computing across
the globe, this research can contribute to understanding of
unique experiences of women of color and has implications for
informing interventions to increase participation of women of
color in computing.
Research Questions. To examine whether there is evidence of a
double-bind affecting the outcomes of women of color in computing, this study explores the following research questions: ( 1)
Among underrepresented high school students participating
in a rigorous summer intervention program, do gender differences exist in computer science interest and aspirations? and
( 2) Do existing gender differences persist in participation in AP
CS A courses in high school and the pursuit and completion of
computer science degrees?
Program Context. This study took place within a 5-week,
3-summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM) program serving underrepresented high school students across four sites in Northern and Southern California.
Students are admitted to the program in the summer between
9th and 10th grade, and attend for three consecutive summers.
The academic programming includes: math, science, and computer science core courses, an engineering design course, and
college preparation activities in addition to a youth develop-ment-focused residential program with lessons and activities
related to social, emotional, and leadership development. This
research specifically examines the impact of the computer science intervention components on student outcomes. The computer science intervention includes a three- sequence computer
science course, taken by all students, with curriculum adapted
from Exploring Computer Science (CS1), Beauty and Joy of
Computing (CS2), and AP Computer Science A (CS3; College
Board, 2016; UC Berkeley and Education Development Center,
2012; GSEIS, Center X, 2004). Each course provides 37. 5 total hours of instruction per summer, for a total of 112.5 hours.
Students have the option of participating in an additional AP
CS preparatory course during their senior year which prepares
students to take the AP CS A exam. All of the computer science
programming and activities are situated within a culturally relevant and responsive pedagogical framework and provide exposure to diverse computer science role models, diverse instructors, and support networks of diverse peers (Figure 1).
Participants. Three samples were included in this study: ( 1)
a sample of current high school students who participated in the
program during the summer of 2016, ( 2) a sample of participants
in 2014 and 2015 who enrolled in the optional AP CS A preparato-
ry course, and ( 3) a sample of current college students who previ-
women from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in comput-
ing and technology (African American, Latinx, Native Ameri-
can, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander) comprise 20% of the
general population and just 4% of the computing workforce [ 23].
Further, they account for 39% of the female population and only
26% of the Bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in computer
science [ 1]. While data sources are difficult to obtain and standardize across contexts [ 12], research suggests that women of
color in nearly all national contexts face a number of specific
cultural, psychological and economic barriers to technology access, education, and career opportunities at the intersection of
race and gender ( 18, 19). Examining the barriers, experiences,
and outcomes of women of color in computing in the largest
technology markets may inform programming for women and
girls in other regions and countries, and provide evidence and
opportunities to address disparities in the participation of all
women in computing across contexts. This research builds upon
existing research about the double-bind facing women of color
in STEM fields [ 18], by examining gender differences in computing interest, participation, and outcomes among a sample of
underrepresented high school students in the United States.
In order to examine gender differences in the experiences and
outcomes within computer science, this research draws upon
theories of intersectionality and critical race theory. Crenshaw’s
theory of intersectionality (1991) posits that individuals have
multiple identities, and that individuals already marginalized
by their racial/ethnic identities may be further marginalized by
their other identities, including gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and (dis)ability. These identities are experienced collectively and are inseparable from one another [ 8].
Thus, for women of color in computing, it follows that there are
unique barriers resulting from the intersection of race and gender, which differ from the barriers experienced by individuals
with just one of those marginalized identities [ 18]. Critical race
theory has been used to conceptualize racial disparities in educational contexts as a function of structural and institutional
racism manifested in schools and society [ 14]. In the computing
education pipeline, structural disparities detrimentally affecting
students of color can be seen in a lack of access to school funding and resources [ 7], computer science courses [ 5, 16], and access to relevant and engaging curriculum [ 10]. Additional social
and psychological barriers emerge as a reaction to being from a
marginalized group [ 15], affecting students of color and women
in computing. These barriers include stereotypes about ability
[ 21], a lack of diverse role models [ 22], stereotype threat and
disidentification within a domain associated with being a member of a marginalized group [ 21], and stereotypical cues within
computer science environments [ 3]. While these barriers affect
students of color and women, it follows that women of color face
unique barriers as a result of having dual marginalized identities.
This research will build upon the theoretical frameworks
of intersectionality and critical race theory to further explore