March 04, 2019

Congresswoman Lee Reintroduces Legislation to Address Techequity

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee reintroduced legislation to address persistent racial disparities in the tech sector, including the Computer Science for All bill to support a diverse tech pipeline in pre-k to grade 12 education, and a tech diversity resolution that calls for robust diversity and inclusion plans, strengthened partnerships with institutions of higher education serving students of color, and improve data collection on diversity in STEAM education and the technology sector.

“The 21st century economy is upon us, yet so many of our young people are unprepared for what that economy holds,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Our young people, especially girls and young people of color, need Congress to invest in them so that they have the computer skills they need for the jobs of the future. Congresswoman Lee continued, “Women and people of color have been shut out from the tech industry for far too long – so these bills are important first steps in making sure that there is a robust and diverse pipeline of talent, as well as an industry that is ready and willing to help tech employees of color thrive.

“American innovation is already falling behind. Since 1992, the U.S. has fallen from second to ninth among OECD countries, when examining research and development expenditures as a percentage of GDP. Today, less than a quarter of all high schools offer Advanced Placement computer science courses. It is clear that schools need more resources to ensure American students don’t fall behind their global counterparts.

“Further, more investment is needed to encourage girls and students of color to pursue STEAM and computer science careers. In 2018, only 28 percent of students taking either AP Computer Science exams were women, and just 21 percent were African American, or Latino. I am proud to lead my colleagues in addressing the lack of diversity in a growing sector that will eventually touch all aspects of our life.”

“There is a persistent lack of diversity in the tech industry, and it is an issue that requires our attention and focus,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield. “If the United States is to remain competitive in the world of technological innovation, we must do everything in our power to prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers in STEAM fields. Congress must do its part to strengthen the pipeline and clear pathways to these careers. I commend Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her continued leadership to ensure full representation at every level of this growing industry, and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us.”

“We appreciate Representative Lee for working tirelessly throughout her career to make computer science education classes more accessible and for her commitment to empowering our students with the skills to help them prosper,” said TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore. “This legislation is a significant step forward to prepare our students for success in the digital economy, a goal that can unite both parties. The U.S. faces a significant and growing computer science skills gap that is leaving too many young Americans unable to secure the good-paying job opportunities available to them in this field. By 2020 there will be one million more computing jobs nationally than there will be graduates to fill them, resulting in a $500 billion opportunity gap. Through innovative approaches and public-private partnerships, the tech sector is helping bring computer science education to more students and communities across the country, but much more needs to be done.”

“More than half a million computer science jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled because there are not enough workers with the right skills,” said Information Technology Industry Council President and CEO Jason Oxman. “To narrow the skills gap and help our industry and economy grow, we must leverage the talent of all Americans. The Computer Science for All Act takes important steps to make sure young Americans from all backgrounds and experiences have the opportunity to learn the in-demand skills needed for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow. We thank Rep. Lee for her leadership on this critical issue and are committed to working with her and her Congressional colleagues, our industry partners, and communities across the country to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“Rep. Barbara Lee's legislation is a historic step toward solidifying America's commitment to funding computer science education from pre-K through senior year of high school,” said the Computer Science Education Coalition. “The Computer Science Education Coalition is thankful for Rep. Lee's leadership and vision in recognizing the importance of computer science education and her dedication to our nation's students in leading this effort. With computer science impacting our entire economy from agriculture to healthcare, coding to architecture, this legislation is a down payment on the workforce of tomorrow. We encourage members to cosponsor Rep. Lee's bill and show that putting our students first with first-class computer science education is bipartisan.”