This article is published in the November 2015 issue.

BRAID/CRA Collaboration to Study and Evaluate Diversity Initiatives in Computing

horizontal CERP logoCRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP) will be working with Linda Sax, Professor of Education at UCLA, and a team of graduate students, on the research component of the Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) initiative. The BRAID initiative was established in 2014 by Harvey Mudd College and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and currently involves 15 computing departments across the U.S. that are committed to recruiting and retaining women as well as underrepresented men in computing majors. To that end, BRAID departments implement changes to their introductory computer science courses, and pathways into the major, as well as improve departmental climate, and promote outreach efforts for students.

BRAID-LogoRecognizing the importance of comparing students at BRAID departments with students at other institutions, Sax and her team reached out to CERP for data on a comparison group of non-BRAID institutions. CERP distributes an annual survey to a network of computing departments across the U.S., which assesses students’ experiences and progress in their computing degree program – this initiative is called the Data Buddies Project. Institutions participating in the Data Buddies Project are an ideal comparison group for BRAID, so the collaboration is a natural fit.

The UCLA team and CERP will collaborate to:

  • Compare subjective experiences in computing among underrepresented students from BRAID institutions versus non-BRAID institutions. For instance, analyses will focus on students’ sense of “fit” in the computing community, access to mentors, and aspirations of the future, as a function of whether students are enrolled in a BRAID versus non-BRAID institution.
  • Disseminate findings to the computing education community and other STEM fields suffering from low diversity.
  • Utilize lessons learned from this project to inform a longitudinal follow-up study on students enrolled at BRAID/CERP institutions.

Call for applications – Become a BRAID affiliate school

BRAID is now accepting applications for up to five new BRAID affiliate schools. Affiliates are schools that are working toward implementing BRAID commitments to increase diversity in their computing departments but are not receiving funding through the initiative. Affiliates will be eligible to receive consultation from Harvey Mudd College and NCWIT. In addition, affiliates will have the opportunity to be a part of a network of other BRAID schools and to share and learn best practices from one another in increasing diversity in computing departments. It is required that this work be led by the Department Chair who will be the main liaison on the BRAID project. Department Chairs from affiliates will be expected to attend the annual BRAID Summit, which will occur July 15-17, 2016 in Snowbird, Utah.

To apply to participate, please compose a proposal (2 pages maximum) on what your department has already been doing to address diversity and what you intend to do by participating in BRAID. Please send your proposal to Proposals are due by 5 pm on December 31st, 2015.


BRAID/CRA Collaboration to Study and Evaluate Diversity Initiatives in Computing