Gail Chapman

Director of Outreach
Exploring Computer Science

Inspire, Innovate, Improve! What does this mean for CS for All?

In January 2016, President Obama unveiled the CS for All initiative. With all the attention and publicity surrounding CS for All and increased support from a variety of corners over the ensuing year, it is easy to become complacent and start believing that we have “arrived”.

During her 2016 SIGCSE keynote, Jan Cuny talked about catching the wave and using it to our advantage. This talk will focus on where we go from here. We caught the wave; now what do we do to ensure that we don’t get swallowed by it? What lessons can be learned from an election that featured the likes of fake news, Wiki leaks, rogue email servers, runaway tweets and showed in stark relief the divides that exist in our country.

Computer science represents one of those divides. Given this and the fact that addressing the educational inequities prevalent in computer science was front and center in the CS for All announcement, what better time is there to renew our commitment to broadening participation in computing?

As educators we have a powerful opportunity and responsibility in the wake of the blowback from the election—to educate, to listen, to remind ourselves constantly that we live in a very diverse country. We have no shortage of innovation in computer science, but who are we inspiring, what impact are those innovations having, and what can we do to learn from the lessons of the past to improve CS education? And above all, how do we respond to the challenges before us with empathy for those who are impacted by the decisions we make?


Gail Chapman is Director of Outreach for Exploring Computer Science (ECS), a K-12/University national program funded by National Science Foundation to increase CS learning opportunities at the high school level for all students, with specific focus on students traditionally underrepresented in CS. With an emphasis on equitable access to and participation in CS for ALL students, Gail works with partner districts on strategic planning related to implementation of ECS, including professional development, leadership development, and sustainability. She is co-designer of the ECS curriculum and professional development model and leads ECS PD Facilitator development.

Throughout her career, Gail has focused on equitable education for ALL students and the impact that teachers and teaching can have on ensuring this. Prior to joining the ECS team in 2008, Gail held a variety of positions within the field of education. She began her career as a high school mathematics and computer science teacher, teaching a wide range of courses, including AP Computer Science. Building on the experiences in the classroom, Gail subsequently became the AP Computer Science assessment specialist at Educational Testing Service. During that time, she convened committees to study the change in programming language used in the course from Pascal to C++ and then Java, focusing on the impacts of these changes on students and professional development necessary for teachers. Gail then moved to the College Board where she worked in the AP Program more broadly, advocating for broadening access to AP and professional development for teachers to support these initiatives, while continuing her involvement in CS. Gail also directed Leadership and Professional Development at Computer Science Teachers Association in the early years of its existence and was a member of the AP Computer Science Principles Advisory Group.