Harvey Mudd among 500 leaders advocating for accessibility in computer science

A group of multicolored students crowd around a screen that reads "CS 4 ALL."
Harvey Mudd’s advancements towards diversity includes its recent signature on the open letter from Code.org. (Ella Lehavi • The Student Life)

As technology continues to become a more predominant aspect of everyday life, Harvey Mudd College has joined over 500 CEOs, university presidents and nonprofit leaders in asking U.S. governors and education leaders to provide computer science (CS) learning opportunities for all students.

On July 12, HMC President Maria Klawe signed an open letter organized by national nonprofit Code.org, which calls for states to update their K-12 curriculum to include computer science courses.

Citing studies that show how students with a computer science background outperform in school, university and their careers, the letter urged school officials to make CS courses “a basic part of the new normal” as schools in the United States rethink their education models following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The United States leads the world in technology, yet only 5 percent of our high school students study computer science,” the letter said. “How is this acceptable? We invented the personal computer, the internet and the smartphone. It is our responsibility to prepare the next generation for the new American Dream.”

“It is our responsibility to prepare the next generation for the new American Dream,” the letter said.

In response to the letter, the National Governors Association created the Governor’s Compact To Expand K-12 Computer Science Education. In it, 50 governors pledged to increase the number of schools offering computer science classes, provide more funding for the discipline and create career opportunities for those entering the field from historically underrepresented communities. 

By signing the letter, Klawe joins hundreds of education advocacy leaders who are asking for computer science to be part of all schools’ curricula, including university presidents and CEOs of nonprofits and tech companies such as Meta and Apple.  

Klawe told TSL one of the most significant impacts the letter could have is increasing diversity in STEM fields like computer science.

“I really believe that it is important to provide access to this for everybody … It’s an advantage for everyone,” Klawe said.

“I really believe that it is important to provide access to this for everybody … It’s an advantage for everyone,” Klawe said.

As president of Harvey Mudd, Klawe has been part of various efforts to increase diversity in the college, including transforming HMC’s student population from 30 percent of the student body identifying as female in 2006 to around 50 percent in 2022. Last year also proved to be the most diverse HMC class, with 70 percent of domestic admittees being students of color. 

To Klawe, the diversity at Harvey Mudd is the school’s strength. 

“That’s what’s different from many other places is the diversity of the graduates in computer science reflect the diversity of the student population overall [at Harvey Mudd],” Klawe said. “We’re half female, but we also have a significant number of Hispanic, Latinx and Black students graduating from computer science.”

CS major Hayley Walters HM ’25 told TSL that advocacy for more K-12 opportunities — such as the efforts of the letter signed by Harvey Mudd — is important to increase diversity.

People will say, ‘Oh, well, women have the free choice to be a CS major if they want to. They just don’t because they’re not naturally inclined that way,’” Walters said. “But that’s not the truth. It’s because men have more pre-college experience than women.”

While acknowledging efforts made in gender diversity at Harvey Mudd, Walters said there’s plenty of room to grow in terms of representation as an area for improvement. 

“I hear it’s better than other places in terms of racial diversity, but it’s still not good,” Walters said. “There’s very few people that are Black or [Latinx]. Those are probably the two most underrepresented groups in CS classes at Claremont.”

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