We realized that in order for initiatives to effectively make computing inclusive, we need to begin with a shared and collaboratively generated definition of equity to which all are accountable. Below is SCALE-CA’s current understanding of the meaning  of equity in computer science education and how it gets enacted. This shared understanding of equity continues to evolve and inform our own personal understanding and agency as well as the larger project’s goal to build systemic leadership capacity for equitable implementation of CS. 

For more information about the process we developed to iteratively define and deliver equity, please see the paper we presented at RESPECT 2021.


Equity means that (1) all students should have access to a meaningful, empowering, high-quality, and culturally responsive and sustaining computer science education that allows them to explore relevant issues; and (2) computer science education should be humanizing and counter the oppression and exclusion that many youth experience in school.
In order for there to be an equitable and sustainable system of computer science education for all children, there must be (a) acknowledgment of the unjust system of computer science education and its historical and current participation in institutional systems of oppression; (b) understanding of the actions necessary to transform computer science education policies and practices that do not promote equitable teaching and learning; and (c) accountability to ensure these changes are made and sustained.


  • Certain populations of students, such as Black and Brown students, girls, low-income students, and students from rural areas, have been systemically denied access to educational resources, opportunities, and experiences based on different facets of their identity including race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and disability, as well as the intersection of those facets.

  • These inequalities that exist in the broader educational landscape often get reproduced in computer science education due to

    • a lack of access to high-quality, culturally relevant/responsive/sustainable computer science learning opportunities for all students;

    • beliefs about who can excel in educational spaces often degrade the potential and capacity, specifically of Black and Brown students and girls, as a way to rationalize their underrepresentation; and

    • local, state, and national policies that result in shortages of Black and Brown teachers, shortages of counselors, funding disparities; and lack of funding.

  • In order for students to be fully engaged members of society, educational stakeholders must provide an education that, through the lens of computer science, encourages the exploration of issues that impact youth as a way to develop skills that lead to becoming proficient in the field.

  • Computer science can empower students to be more than just consumers of technology;  by allowing them to find and use their voice, we encourage them to become critical users and creators in all fields touched by technology.

  • Computer science is an emerging field of study that can lead to high-wage and high-demand careers; by actively inviting underrepresented groups into this space we address socio-economic inequality and

    • promote a technology sector that’s diverse, inclusive, reflects the life experience of those that use digital tools, and promotes issues of social justice.


  • In order to develop an equity-based approach that centers students’ experiences, we must approach the computer science classroom through pedagogical, structural, and cultural lenses.

  • The pedagogical lens requires us to be accountable for empowering instruction for all students. We must therefore

    • recognize that every child’s educational experience should be rigorous and relevant.

    • recognize that every child is capable of learning.

    • create classroom environments that are inclusive, safe, and respect and affirm every student, embracing and honoring their diverse and complex identities.

    • discover and cultivate the unique talents and interests of every student

  • The structural lens requires us to examine existing structures and policies and make new ones. We must therefore

    • ensure that resources and opportunities are not to be distributed equally, but according to different students’ needs.

    • ensure that not only all students have access to computer science education, but exposure to diverse computer science classrooms.

  • The cultural lens requires us to examine implicit and explicit biases. We must therefore

    • acknowledge and challenge the institutional barriers impacting youth from historically underrepresented groups.

    • counter practices rooted in stereotypes about who can or should excel in computer science.

    • recognize that people present themselves and are treated differently in different contexts depending on how their various identities overlap and intersect.


  • Equity in computer science education is not a goal, but a process by which we strive to ensure that every student is provided with what they individually require to learn and grow personally, academically, and socially.; success and achievement should not be predicted by any demographic or geographic factor.

  • This work is challenging and involves constant collection and analysis of intersectional data on access and outcomes, as well as reflection on how we can counter inequity through standards, curriculum, professional development, and our understanding of our own identities and biases.

  • The work of implementing high quality computer science education is a collective responsibility for various stakeholders.

    • Teachers  must empower students through culturally responsive and sustainable education that supports their identity and interests.

    • Administrators must prioritize CS by ensuring teachers are empowered with high quality curricula, tools, and training…

    • Policy makers must produce quality legislation that ensures CS education is equitable, scalable, and sustainable.

    • The professional sector must actively dialogue with educators as to how computer science is taught, who is hired, and what workplace environments are like for underrepresented populations.

    • Families and guardians can empower students by encouraging them to pursue their identity and interests.