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Facebook Promotes Computer Science and Programming Diversity in New Initiative

Facebook this week unveiled TechPrep, an initiative to promote computer science and programming as a career option for underrepresented people such as Blacks, Hispanics and women by providing information and resources targeting parents, guardians and learners.

The TechPrep Web site -- available in Spanish-- provides information why programming is a good career option and resources to help people get started down that path.

"Diversity is central to Facebook's mission of creating a more open and connected world -- both because it's the right thing to do and because it's good for our product and business," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "Cognitive diversity matters because bringing together people of different characteristics enables us to build better products that serve nearly 1.5 billion people around the world."

Helping to attract newcomers to the programming industry and address an expected shortage of 1 million programming jobs by 2020, the TechPrep site points out that the average starting salary for U.S. developers is $62,000, which is $8,000 more than the annual median income of U.S. households.

The program is supported by McKinsey & Company, which conducted research about the participation of underrepresented minorities in programming careers. While Blacks and Hispanics expressed great self-confidence in their ability to work with computers, 77 percent of parents didn't now how to help their kids get started in computer science, according to the research findings. Among lower-income and non-college graduates, that percentage rose to 83 percent.

TechPrep includes videos, games, books, in-person opportunities, community events and other resources designed to help learners get started in the industry or guide parents/guardians to help with that effort. Real-world profiles of people pursuing such careers are also provided.

"Parents and guardians are influential figures in students' lives," Facebook said. "By exposing people to computer science and programming and guiding them to the resources they need to get started, we hope to reduce some of the barriers that block potential from meeting opportunity."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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