Hispanic Students Pursue Passions for Computer Science Through 2018 Congressional App Challenge



WASHINGTON, DC – In the United States, Hispanics and Latinos make up 17% of the nation’s workforce; however, in computer science-related fields, they only represent less than 7% of employees. At major tech companies, they constitute an even smaller portion– 3%– and in the past decade, the number of total Hispanic and Latino employees have declined overall. The Congressional App Challenge aims to remedy this growing disparity by providing opportunities to explore computer science for these underrepresented minorities. In 2018, the Challenge served Hispanic students at a rate five times higher than Silicon Valley.

In the technology industry, Hispanics comprise 5.3% of all professional positions, and in leading firms, are only 1.6% of executives and managers. Changing the status quo involves fixing K-12 education; only 15% of examinees for AP Computer Science exams were Hispanic or Latino in 2018. According to a Gallup poll commissioned by Google, about half of Hispanic students stated that they lacked role models in STEM and access to formal classes, despite having a high interest in the field. As the largest minority group living in rural areas as of 2010, government, tech, and educators must also be aware of the growing digital divide– which includes disparities in access to internet and computers– to ensure that students enter the workforce prepared.

As a pathway to tech careers, the Congressional App Challenge has served a large number of Hispanic students each year. Regardless of their experience level, students have the ability to conceptualize and build any app of their choosing, and with more than half of Congressional districts competing, students from a variety of geographic backgrounds can participate. For the 2019 Challenge, twenty Representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Conference are participating, and the Internet Education Foundation is proud to partner with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to create the next generation of Hispanic and Latino coders.