To help underrepresented people in tech aim towards careers in programming, Facebook has launched TechPrep, a resource hub offering tutorials and aids to children and parents to help get them started.
While obviously applicable to any child looking to get into programming, Facebook is gearing TechPrep particularly towards children who have been, arguably, left behind or ignored to date in the tech industry.
Like many tech companies, Facebook’s most recent diversity report did not show the company in a particularly good light, with the vast majority of employees in tech roles – 84pc – being men.
Likewise, racial diversity is also severely lacking, with only 6pc of its employees not categorising themselves as white or Asian ethnicities.
Interestingly, according to Facebook’s own statistics promoting the launch of TechPrep, people from black and Hispanic ethnicities showed a greater self-confidence when it comes to their potential to work in tech, despite their under-representation in the industry.
The TechPrep resource was a joint project between the social network and the consultant firm McKinsey & Company, which undertook research that showed that 50pc of blacks and 42pc of Hispanics said they would be good at working with computers, compared to 35pc of whites and 35pc of Asians.
However, according to a released document detailing their hirings in 2014, Facebook hired a total of 109 black and Hispanic employees compared to 603 white people.
The McKinsey report also found that 77pc of parents or guardians said they do not know how to help their child pursue studying computer science.
“After looking closely at the data, we realised that one challenge is a lack of exposure to computer science and careers in technology, as well as a lack of resources for parents, guardians, and others who want to learn more,” said Facebook’s global director of diversity, Maxine Williams. “In the US, this lack of access is prevalent in a number of underrepresented groups, including black and Hispanic communities.”
Along with videos showing some younger programmers explaining what they do at the company, the Tech Prep website also has other testimonials from some of Facebook’s minority employees talking about their experiences trying to develop a career in tech.
Child on laptop image via Shutterstock