The Attitudes of African American Middle School Girls Toward Computer Science: Influences of Home, School, and Technology Use

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Virginia Tech


The number of women in computing is significantly low compared to the number of men in the discipline, with African American women making up an even smaller segment of this population. Related literature accredits this phenomenon to multiple sources, including background, stereotypes, discrimination, self-confidence, and a lack of self-efficacy or belief in one's capabilities. However, a majority of the literature fails to represent African American females in research studies.

This research used a mixed methods approach to understand the attitudes of African American middle school girls toward computer science and investigated the factors that influence these attitudes. Since women who do pursue computing degrees and continue with graduate education often publish in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in greater proportions than men, this research used an intervention to introduce African American middle school girls to computational thinking concepts using HCI topics. To expand the scope of the data collected, a separate group of girls were introduced to computational thinking concepts through Algorithms. Data were collected through both quantitative and qualitative sources, and analyzed using inferential statistics and content analysis.

The results show that African American middle school girls generally have negative attitudes toward computer science. However, after participating in a computer science intervention, perceptions toward computer science become more positive. The results also reveal that four factors influence the attitudes of African American middle school girls toward computer science, such as the participation in an intervention, the intervention content domain, the facilitation of performance accomplishments, and participant characteristics like socioeconomic status, mother's education, school grades, and the use of smart phones and video game consoles at home.



African Americans, Computational Thinking, Computer Confidence, Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Middle School Girls, Self-efficacy