News  |    |  May 28, 2019

Want to fix big tech? Change what classes are required for a computer science degree

News article by Kathy Pham.
Published by Fast Company.


“Are you Eng or Non-Eng?”

“Around here, you’re either SWE or Support.”

These are common sentiments expressed across the tech industry: People are classified into binary categories of engineering or non-engineering, software engineering or support. This classification extends from companies’ hiring databases, to the culture of how people talk about each other, to how leaders identify their employees. It also creates a hierarchy of the people whose opinions matter: Engineering and computer science opinions overshadow design opinions and expertise from humanistic studies.

This way of thinking then permeates the products and services that technology companies build. And today, those products and services affect millions of people: Computer scientists at Facebook and Google create algorithms and models that influence what news countless people do–or don’t–read. Computer scientists at banks write code that determines if someone is eligible for a mortgage. And computer scientists at insurance companies build machine learning systems that decide how much someone pays for their policy. [ . . . ]

About the Author

Kathy Pham is a computer scientist, product leader, and serial founder who has held roles in product management, software engineering, data science, people operations, and leadership in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. She is currently a Mozilla Fellow leading the Responsible Computer Science Challenge.