Black History Month | Boosting Inclusivity in STEM

The widespread adoption of AI and machine learning has a dark side. Computers can make quick decisions, but they’re programmed by humans, and humans can make mistakes.

Who is the majority that represents us all?

It’s not surprising that algorithmic biases are a problem for consumers when there is a lack of diversity among computer programmers. Zippia estimates that in 2019 only 28% of computer programmers were women while 66% were men, 69.4% of which were White, 15.2% Asian, and 8.1% Hispanic or Latino. That’s quite a homogenous majority designing algorithms that are supposed to account for a range of consumer backgrounds and needs. There are quite a few highly publicized examples of algorithmic bias to show for it. Of course, this issue is much more multi-faceted. Sometimes by not considering an issue like gender, to avoid bias, programmers may be building bias into their algorithm. Tech audits are also key to reducing algorithmic biases.

Examples of algorithmic biases:

  • Gender bias with the Apple Credit card
  • Racial bias with Face++, IBM, and Microsoft facial recognition
  • Racial bias with webcam face tracking

Shaping future tech diversity

Representation matters. Human bias translates to AI miscalculations. A crucial step to reducing this problem is expanding representation in tech.

Organizations to follow:

  • The Hidden Genius Project – Their mission: to train and mentor Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.
  • Black Girls Code – Their mission: build pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programing and technology.

Make coding fun in and out of school

The future is tech. Coding robots mix fun and learning in K-12 schools to make coding accessible for kids of every background, so they can get invested in a subject that can return high dividends in tech careers. Both Wonder Workshop and iRobot are educational robotics companies that make coding accessible by introducing kids to graphical coding—no reading skills are required at the beginning level, and kids can transition all the way to full-text coding.

  • Wonder Workshop – Has two robots tailored for 6+ (Dash) and 11+ (Cue) that give teachers a turnkey coding solution—no coding experience required. Teachers can access learning apps and get a 1-, 2-, or 3- year standards-based curriculum subscription that provides out-of-the-box innovation for their classroom. Plus, each year Wonder Workshop hosts their Wonder League Robotics Competition that has reached more than 86,500 kids.  

iR

  • iRobot ­– Another popular K-12 coding robot is iRobot’s Root Robot. Teachers can engage students with innovation and creativity through real-world coding experience tailored for all skill levels. Many kids enjoy the vertical movement on whiteboards that Root can do.

We’d love to hear from you! How are you bringing coding to your students? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sources:

https://www.zippia.com/software-programmer-jobs/demographics/

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/i-know-some-algorithms-are-biased-because-i-created-one/

https://www.wired.com/story/the-apple-card-didnt-see-genderand-thats-the-problem/

https://adabhishekdabas.medium.com/algorithmic-bias-in-real-world-b98808e01586

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s