By Gillian Tett
Instead, Wadhwa’s “hackathon” involved dozens of poor Latino and black teenagers from the impoverished part of Oakland, a place far removed from the wealth-soaked Palo Alto region. And instead of trying to create the next gazillion-dollar IPO, Wadhwa and other computing experts were trying to teach poor kids to “code”, with a hope of inspiring them to become software engineers.
It is an intriguing experiment. A few weeks ago I wrote about the lack of women in computer science and pointed out that it was imperative to get more young girls “coding”, both to plug a jobs gap and as an act of empowerment. Dozens of readers emailed me in agreement. But some also pointed to another issue: namely, that today there is not simply a gender digital divide, but a widening socioeconomic one too.
Most notably, wealthy children in the western world are now being inundated with electronic gadgets in a manner that is turning them into digital natives from birth. Never mind the fact that elite schools in Silicon Valley teach their kids to code, middle-class children across America and Europe are living and breathing computing skills too. In London, for example, Falkner House, a private primary school (that I know through my own daughters) has just started handing out iPads for use in homework. These programmes are so innovative that they have won the school accolades from Apple; no doubt other schools will soon follow su