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Writing Assignment: Stuck in the Shallow End


Due: November 12



To get experience writing about social issues in computer science, and learn about educational inequality issues.



For this writing assignment, you will do the following:

  1. Read the introduction to the groundbreaking work Stuck in the Shallow End by Jane Margolis, about inequities in Computer Science education. This chapter is available as a PDF in Canvas. If you're interested, the entire book is available in the UMW library.
  2. The introductory chapter is in some ways a summary of the entire book. Write a summary of this summary in about one page. Your summary should not just repeat what the authors are saying in the chapter. Instead, you should provide a high-level overview of the content. What's the main point of the chapter? What are the main questions it raises? What are its main claims?
  3. It's a fact that racial minorities (except for Asians) are vastly underrepresented throughout the broad discipline of Computer Science in the United States, both in academia and in industry. For this question, you are to identify and articulate two possible contributing factors to this phenomenon. One of these possible factors should be drawn from the reading. One of them should be something not mentioned explicitly in the reading but which you thought of.

    To be clear: neither of these possible contributing factors has to be something you actually believe is the true explanation. They simply need to be factors that someone might plausibly advance as an explanation (or partial explanation).

    For each of these two possible contributing factors, give one concise argument supporting it, and one concise argument refuting it. Do the best job you can in arguing for and against each of the propositions. Ideally, the reader should not even be able to tell which side you really believe (if any) since both sides will be argued equally strongly and fairly.

    This part should also be about one page as well.

There is no "right answer" here. Don't feel like I'm trying to channel you towards a particular explanation for the phenomenon of racial inequities in CS. There is no "right" (or "wrong") answer. Feel free to choose whichever explanations you feel are most interesting or compelling, and feel free to argue for (and against) them as best you can.


General Requirements

Your paper should:



To submit your program, email the paper in PDF format to ifinlay@umw.edu.

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