Launched in 2014 and co-led by AnitaB.org and Harvey Mudd College, the BRAID initiative (Building, Recruiting, And Inclusion for Diversity) strives to increase the percentage of women and underrepresented groups in computer science (CS). The way this is achieved is by directly working with department chairs at our participating universities.
“[BRAID] really focuses on a few strategies that leaders in undergraduate computer science departments can take to build more inclusive campuses,” Stephanie Rodriguez, Vice President of Policy and Engagement, explained to VOA. By modifying introductory CS courses and creating outreach programs for high school students and teachers, department chairs can attract a more diverse group of students.
“We were… trying to improve culture for the women that are here, and what BRAID did was bring a more national and upper-level administration emphasis to it,” explained Jan Plane, a faculty member in the CS Department at University of Maryland. The University now has the most CS undergraduates in the nation, increasing its numbers from around 300 female students in 2014 to more than 700 female students today.
Jacqueline Deprey, a student at University of Maryland, echoed Jan’s sentiments about BRAID and its impact on students. Thanks to the initiative, Jacqueline got to attend the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration with other BRAID students, where she found even more support.
“Through attending [GHC],” Jacquleine said, “I was able to really recognize… there are other people fighting this same fight who are also striving for equality.”