About Yvonne Thomas

Yvonne Thomas leads Microsoft Philanthropies work to grow economic opportunity for youth in more than 60 countries around the world by increasing equitable access and participation in digital skills and computer science education.

Supporting Women in Computing

In recognition of Women’s History month, I’ve been reflecting on the teachers who work tirelessly to bring computer science education to their students. In particular, I wanted to acknowledge and appreciate the important role of the women who teach computer science in schools and in communities around the world.

We know that research tells us that mentors and role models are a key ingredient for success – as they say – “you can’t be it if you can’t see it”. Having a strong female role model teaching computer science – whether that is in school or out of school – is one way to help girls dispel myths about who belongs in computer science – and helps them clearly see that they do belong in this field.

Another great way to continue to build inclusive computer science education and help girls – and all students – see and grow the impact of women in computer science is to share the stories and impact of women who’ve pioneered the way. Women’s History Month is the perfect time to do this since there are so many great resources created, shared and highlighted.

I’m sharing a few resources that I found interesting and hope you will add to this list. While I know that by sharing a short list, I risk of leaving things out. But with the goal to start somewhere… here we go! I’m sure you have some you want to share. Please do! Post them on Twitter, tagging @csteachersorg with the hashtag #CSforAll so others can see them too.

NCWIT has so many great resources! The Pioneers in Tech Award announced their newest recipient – and you can check out past recipients for even more inspiration!

Want to inspire your students in person? Check out opportunities to attend The Grace Hopper Celebration, the largest gathering of women technologists, which is a part of the Anita Borg Institute.  

The IEEE Computing Society has a range of resources to both promote and support women in computing as well as links to other great programs and resources.

Check out the list of women led, women focused computer science organizations created by Ruthe Farmer, Chief Evangelist for CSforAll. Find out who is operating in your community and see how you can partner!

San Francisco Unified School District’s Celebration of Women in Computing shares a GREAT list of resources (including lesson plans and posters!) they’ve compiled. (Thanks to my fellow CSTA board member Bryan Twarek for sharing!)

Through inspirational student interviews with a range of diverse female and male CS professionals, Roadtrip Nation’s Code Trip shows students that there are many pathways they can follow in pursuit of computer science education and computing.

And finally, help inspire the women we see on these lists, posters and history books in the future! Help make sure more girls have strong female role models by nominating a female teacher you know to receive a scholarship to attend a code.org training!

Yvonne Thomas
Partner Representative CSTA Board

The First Next Step

As we round the corner to the end of November and head into computer science education week, we know millions of students and teachers will try computer science for the first time. I am continually amazed how Computer Science Education Week drives so much action and awareness in such a short amount of time.

As critical as computer science education week is for the initial exposure to computer science, what might be even more important is the first next step.

The momentum from campaigns like those around Computer Science Education Week and the hard work of people and organizations around the world to create equitable access to computer science education has created a wide variety of resources that make access to information, training, curriculum, content, activities and planning tools accessible and suited for a range of learner outcomes, teacher readiness and school and community needs.

So whether you’re already implementing computer science in your classroom or school or you’ve just completed your first Hour of Code and you’re ready for the next steps, here are some no cost and low cost resources available nearly anywhere you are to get you started, and help you keep going!

Get to know Code.org beyond an Hour of Code with the wide variety of resources available to support teachers, students, administrators and communities to bring computer science to every student. Check out the Teacher Resources and the Student Resources.

Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS pairs technology industry professionals with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science education. School applications are open now!

Professional Development Resources
This Computer Science Professional Development Guide was built with input from experts from TEALS, CS for All, CSTA, Code.org, NCWIT and Microsoft. It’s intended to help education leaders build teacher, school counselor and administrator capacity to support equitable computer science education for all students.

CSTA has a wide variety of supports available to computer science teachers. A CSTA+ Membership offers additional benefits, discounts and access to resources specially for CSTA+ Members.

ISTE’s tools and resources are designed for teachers who bring computer science education into a wide variety of subjects across K-12.

This is just the start of a list and definitely not exhaustive. Share the resources you love with the CSTA community! Post them on Twitter, tagging @csteachersorg with the hashtag #CSforAll so others can see them too. You can view all posts that use these two tags here.

Yvonne Thomas
Partner Representative CSTA Board

Increasing equity and inclusion in computer science education

Last month I attended my first CSTA conference. I LOVED the positive energy. From the keynote speakers to the exhibition space to the breakout sessions, everyone at CSTA2018 seemed genuinely happy to be together and they were clearly excited to share, learn, and ultimately do more for students.

My favorite part of CSTA2018 was the session with Andy (Andrea) Gonzales. In short, while in high school, she and a friend created a viral video game, won a Webby Award, wrote a book, were covered by multiple media outlets and now she is on a full ride scholarship to both UNC Chapel Hill and Duke. Impressively, she’s determined to leverage her space in the spotlight to do more for other young women like herself.

Andy talked about the exclusion she felt as a young woman learning computer science. She shared that the early support of an adult (her male summer camp counselor) was key to her success today. She described the misconceptions she had about computer science and the stereotypes that so many other young women and women of color struggle with. She emerged from her experiences more empowered and now wants to empower others.

Andy and her story are impressive. And yet, the thing that struck me the most about Andy was the response she garnered from the adults in the room.

Nearly all the questions Andy fielded from the audience of 700+ computer science education teachers and advocates were about they could do more to support girls and students of color in their computer science classes. How can I get more girls to join? What do you think I can do differently? Of the few girls I have in my computer science classes, how can I get them to engage more? How do I best support my students of color?

These questions clearly articulated the teachers’ desire to do more to help ALL their current or potential CS students succeed. They also illustrated the gaps that exist for teachers to find – and then implement – the resources that would help them reach this goal.

To be clear, I am not an expert on this topic. And in full transparency, I work for a tech company that is actively working on how it makes progress on diversity, equity and inclusion internally and how it can play a role in increasing equitable access to computer science education around the world.

I do know that there is a lot of good and important work that has been done on equity and inclusion in education broadly, and specifically in math and science. And while we are making progress, and there is a lot of great research on what the issues and challenges are in diversity, equity and inclusion in computer science, what I hear from teachers and others in CS education is that we still have work to do to make practical solutions easy for teachers to bring to life, specifically for computer science.

I know that by sharing a short list of resources, I am bound to leave things out. But with the goal to start somewhere, as I’ve been on my learning journey, others have told me that the following resources and information have been helpful in their work to support success for all students in their computer science classes and programs.

I’m sure you have some you want to share – please do! Post them on Twitter, tagging @csteachersorg with the hashtag #CSforAll so others can see them too. You can view all posts that use these two tags here.

Defining the issues:

Practical tools and resources for teachers and schools:

Recent blog posts by fellow CSTA board members:

Yvonne Thomas
Partner Representative CSTA Board