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2018 October 6

Cabrillo grant for Hispanics in CS

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:49
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The Santa Cruz Tech Beat article ETR awarded ‘CS For All’ NSF Grant – Cabrillo College, Digital NEST, Pajaro Valley Unified School District to Receive Funding reports on a new grant of almost a million dollars “to establish computer science and computational thinking pathways for K-14 students in south Santa Cruz County”. That is a good thing to support, and the south part of hte county certainly needs more money for education, so I’m all in favor of the grant and its goals.

But there was one quote from the article that I thought was a bit misleading:

“Research from Lopez & Fry demonstrates that while Latinos make up 19% of all U.S. college students ages 18- 24, they earn only 6% of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees,” said Gerlinde Brady, Dean of Career Technical Education at Cabrillo College. “Offering CS and CIS pathways to dual-enrolled high school students who earn college credit while in high school will increase their likelihood of enrolling in college and becoming CS and CIS majors.”

Those figures may be accurate on a national basis, but are they accurate locally?  I checked the UCSC major head counts for Fall 2017 (the 2018 ones aren’t available yet).  UCSC had an overall Hispanic undergrad enrollment of 27.6% (substantially higher than the 19% quoted), and CS had only 12.9% Hispanics, so there is definitely a gap.  Computer Engineering, however, had 24.9% Hispanics, and Computational Media (the department for the Game Design major) had 14.8% Hispanics.  Combining all three departments, we see 15.8%.  The ratio of Hispanics in CS+CE+CM to Hispanics at the University is 0.57—much better than the nationwide 0.33, but still under-representation in computing fields relative to the overall student population.

Of all the divisions at UCSC, engineering has the lowest representation of Hispanics (17.8%) and the highest of Asians (39.8%). Computer Science is 46.6% Asian undergraduate students, the highest of any department on campus, but the fraction of white students (24.9%) is lower than the campus as a whole (31.4%).

Interestingly, the whitest department on campus is Music at 55.8%.  In engineering, the whitest is Computational Media at 34%, in humanities—Literature at 47.4%, in physical and biological sciences—Earth and Planetary Science at 48.1%, and in social science—Environmental Studies at 48.2%.  The least-white department is Latin American and Latino Studies (3.6% white, 91.9% Hispanic).

Division International Asian-American Hispanic White
Arts 6.5% 19.3% 26.2% 37.4%
Engineering 8.4% 39.8% 17.8% 27.3%
Humanities 1.3% 14.0% 35.0% 40.8%
Physical+Biological Sciences 3.1% 29.0% 29.1% 32.3%
Social Sciences 5.7% 23.8% 33.5% 30.1%
Total 6.2% 27.7% 27.6% 31.4%

Totals aren’t 100%, because I left out four smaller categories of students.

A large part of the differences between divisions comes from the fraction of Asian-American and international (largely Chinese) students in each major, but even ignoring that and looking at just the Hispanic/White ratio, Engineering is low on Hispanic students, and computer science even lower.

Those were all head-count figures.  What if we look at graduation figures, which are what  the quote referred to. (These are for 2016–17, so are more an indication of what the campus was like 3–4 years ago—I would expect a somewhat different mix: probably a little whiter than the current mix.)

Division International Asian-American Hispanic White
Arts 0.7% 16.0% 33.8% 42.9%
Engineering 3.0% 36.6% 17.8% 33.3%
Humanities 1.0% 11.3% 37.3% 42.9%
Physical+Biological Sciences 1.6% 28.5% 25.9% 38.5%
Social Sciences 2.4% 22.8% 37.7% 30.9%
Total 2.0% 24.1% 31.9% 35.3%

The graduation figures are indeed a little whiter, but also more Hispanic (except in the STEM fields).   I suspect that the campus has gotten more Asian largely because admissions has gotten more selective as the number of applicants has grown faster than the number of students the campus admits (which in turn has grown far faster than the facilities for teaching or housing them).


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