Dr. Bourgeois has been collaborating with Google since December 2019, exploring ways for the company to support Georgia State students and enhance the university's Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) efforts, which are aimed at encouraging the participation of underrepresented groups in the field. Dr. Bourgeois notes that although 50.8% of the U.S. population is female, women hold only 25% of jobs in computing. Similarly, Black workers make up only 7% of the computing workforce but account for 14% of the population, and Hispanic workers make up only 8% of the computing workforce but represent 18.7% of the population.
Georgia State is particularly fertile ground for BPC efforts because of its relatively high enrollment of Black/African American (AA) students. The annual Taulbee Survey collects statistics on Ph.D.-granting computer science departments in North America. During the 2020–2021 academic year, the survey found that 5,862 Black/AA student were enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in computer science at the surveyed institutions. Of these, 657 were GSU students, accounting for 11.2% of the total. GSU has also graduated significantly more Black/AA CS students than any non-historically Black college or university (HBCU) in the country. “If we want to make an impact on BPC, then GSU is just the place to do so,” Dr. Bourgeois notes.
Over the past two years, Dr. Bourgeois has met with several teams across Google, eventually identifying two primary needs: (1) assisting students in lower-level classes, and (2) better preparing seniors for technical interviews, a key part of the hiring process for many industry positions. In partnership with Google, Dr. Bourgeois began holding workshops last spring focused on technical interview prep, with one targeted at lower-level students and another for more advanced students. In the fall, Google hosted two more workshop series. The first was a 6-week professional development workshop and the second was a 6-week “problem-of-the-week” workshop.
Dr. Bourgeois’ first project of 2022 is to implement an industry mentoring program for students enrolled in CSC 1302 (Principles of Computer Science II). She intends to distribute small stipends to first-generation students who participate in the mentoring program and complete certain requirements. The program will help students who lack networks to secure internships as well as giving them a chance to explore the CS field, hopefully dispelling the stereotype that CS graduates end up in a cubicle coding all day. Dr. Bourgeois hopes that a better understanding of career options will motivate and encourage students as they progress toward a degree. If the pilot program is successful, Dr. Bourgeois intends to investigate ways to expand the program to students at all stages of their academic careers.
Story by Ashlie Swanson