Create Inclusive Computer Science Departments – BRAID Activities

We’re dedicated to creating a diverse workforce reflective of our society. We believe that effort starts by engaging university students of all backgrounds. The Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) initiative aims to increase the number of women and members of underrepresented minority groups in computer science departments.

To address diversity and inclusion in CS, BRAID schools implement a number of programs that have proven useful for all academic institutions, regardless of BRAID affiliation. We invite all academic institutions to partake.

Gather and Analyze Data to Set Goals

Before you can begin setting diversity goals, you first need to collect current data. Gather demographic statistics on undergraduates in your department and use it to identify any trends during the past five to 10 years.

Once you’ve reviewed your data, work with your department faculty and students to develop a comprehensive diversity statement that outlines clear goals and tactics. Below, you’ll find ideas for specific tactics that you can include in your diversity statement

Reach Out to the K–12 Community

Encourage full participation in computer science by getting students interested early in their academic careers. Partner with local schools and offer after-school programs and/or summer camps to teach K–12 students about computing. Be intentional about recruiting girls and members of underrepresented minority groups to participate.

You can also offer your introductory CS course to local high school teachers, along with additional training on how educators can adapt the content for their K–12 students.

Enhance Your CS Course Experience

Often times, CS courses seem intimidating to students with little or no coding experience. Here are some ways to make your courses more welcoming.

  • Structure your introductory CS course so that novice students are enrolled in a different section than experienced coders. That way, they’ll be less intimidated and feel more comfortable asking questions. Be sure to cover the same fundamental principles with them as you would with the experienced students.
  • Be intentional about recruiting diverse faculty and TAs to teach introductory CS classes. Select individuals who really enjoy teaching and are effective.
  • Include hands-on projects in your computing courses that emphasize practical, real-world applications.
  • Develop an introductory course (or modify your existing one) to allow non-CS majors to gain exposure to computer science.

Promote Interdisciplinary Course Work

Computer science complements a variety of other disciplines such as biology, linguistics, and business. Reach out to a wider range of students by partnering with other departments to develop interdisciplinary courses and joint majors.

Build Community

Provide students with safe and supportive environments. Launch student computing clubs that specifically allow women and members of underrepresented minority groups to work with one another, share resources, and develop community.

If you already have student groups in place, make sure faculty are actively involved in supporting a variety of programs (e.g., peer mentorship, hackathons, outside speakers).

Finally, send students and faculty to conferences and events that build community and confidence among members of underrepresented groups. Check out some of these events: Events

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