In an era of rapidly evolving technology and increasing interconnectedness, full participation in society depends on the successful use of technology. Thus, to ensure equity and participation for people with disabilities, technology must be accessible—we must create and adapt interactive systems to improve access to technology and to the world at large. The University of Washington Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences (CREATE) is dedicated to propelling accessible technology research and education from incremental improvements to paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that enable greater inclusion and participation for people of all abilities. This article briefly introduces CREATE’s mission and then highlights some of its recent research into the impact of the pandemic on students and best practices for hybrid meetings.
Computing Research News
Articles on diversity analysis and efforts.
In 2011, my team of six instructors led a yearlong CS course for 120 Black/Latinx middle-school students in Washington, DC. After first-day introductions, we asked them to name a computer scientist. Despite six Black men/women in front of them, we heard only three names: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. It was then that I realized if they didn’t see us as computer scientists, then how would they ever be able to see themselves as one? We knew we had work to do.
We spent the entire year dismantling the narrative that CS was restricted to White and Asian men and reinforcing how not only were they computer scientists, but also change agents. Students learned much more than what CS was, but also whom it should represent and why these identities mattered.
We were fortunate to have a team that didn’t fit the “traditional” narrative leading that effort. However, this won’t always be the case. As we continue to make strides in CS education, the following strategies can help to ensure that the who and why are prioritized, regardless of the student or instructor.
CRA-WP will host two Graduate Cohort Workshops in 2022. The Grad Cohort Workshop for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Leadership Skills (GC-IDEALS) is designed specifically for graduate school populations underrepresented in computing research. The Grad Cohort Workshop for Women (GC-Women) is designed for women students in their first, second, or third year of graduate school in computing fields.
Grad Cohort participants will have an opportunity to build mentoring relationships and develop peer networks intended to form the basis for ongoing activities during their graduate career and beyond.
Applications accepted October 1 – November 15
On April 23-24, CRA-WP was thrilled to hold the 2021Grad Cohort Workshop for Women after canceling the previous year’s event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grad Cohort for Women 2021 was quite different than previous Grad Cohorts as it was held virtually using the Socio event platform. The workshop still consisted of advice panels by professors and research scientists, research discussion sessions, a keynote talk, one-on-one mentoring sessions, an exhibit hall, and even food breaks complete with a customized snack box delivered in advance. Attendance was strong with 375 students, 35 speakers and mentors, 36 sponsors and 14 staff present.
Today, we are issuing another call to action to the individuals, organizations, educational institutions, and companies in the computing ecosystem to address the systemic and structural inequities that Black people experience.
As we did in June 2020, we ask that you translate the public statements into public action to support the Black professional communities toward achieving systemic fairness in computing.
Five years ago, we wrote in this column about the research our team was initiating on the BRAID (Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity) initiative, a coordinated effort among 15 universities to increase representation among women and Students of Color in their undergraduate computing programs. Over these past five years, the BRAID institutions have indeed made significant strides towards greater diversity. Collectively, while BRAID departments experienced an 87% increase in overall undergraduate computing enrollments, such increases were even larger among women (139%), BLI (Black, Latinx, and Indigenous) students (106%), and BLI women (127%). While there is much more work to be done in order to achieve gender and racial/ethnic parity in computing representation (not to mention fostering more inclusive environments), these figures certainly reflect progress. Further, such progress was not experienced by BRAID institutions alone, as data from the nationwide CRA Taulbee Survey during this same time period also show significant gains in representation among women and underrepresented Students of Color.
The goal of the 2021 CMD-IT Academic Careers Workshop is to mentor assistant- and associate-level faculty, senior doctoral students, and postdocs in computing about academic careers.
NSF CISE has announced the new CSGrad4US Graduate Fellowship program that aims to increase the number of diverse, domestic graduate students pursuing research and innovation careers in the CISE fields. The program is for those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a CISE field between July 1, 2016, and June 31, 2019 and are interested in earning a PhD. The new fellowship program will provide 3-year fellowship opportunities for new Ph.D. students in the computing disciplines.
Although computer science has become foundational to every industry and field of study, representation and participation in computer science is still far from balanced. Only 3% of Black students learn computer science in high school or university. Please watch and share this video broadly. Inspire or encourage a student to try computer science, and let them know they belong. Together we can change the face of computer science.
CRA released its third set of 2020 Quadrennial Papers, part of a series of white papers produced though its subcommittees, exploring areas and issues around computing research with the potential to address national priorities over the next four years. This release focused on papers around the themes of Socio-Technical Computing and Diversity & Education.
For the past fifteen years, I have led the NSF-funded broadening participation alliance AccessComputing that has the goal of increasing the participation and success of people with disabilities in computing fields. This has given me and my team the ability to help create positive change and to observe what others have done to do the same. No doubt, there are still significant barriers for some students with disabilities to enter our field, and as technology changes new barriers often arise.