Dr. A. Nicki Washington:
And it’s really true that when you don’t have a diverse group of individuals at the table, then you don’t have everyone thinking about who does this harm? Who does this hurt? Who does this help? Who does this push forward more and who does this push back? So when we don’t create those equitable spaces, we don’t create those equitable and inclusive technologies as well. And we’re seeing that manifest right now, especially in computer science, every day when we talk about the different harms that are playing out from the result of artificial intelligence or facial recognition technology. All of these technologies that are at the forefront of the news every day are the way they are because we lack that inclusion and equity behind the scenes.
Dr. Shaundra B. Daily:
Resilience and rigor are in the same boat for me, I don’t like either term. I mean, if you look at the history of computer science and engineering, you look at the space race. You don’t sleep, you don’t eat. The goal is to win. And so the first computer science department and the space race, all of these things were kind of happening at the same time. And all of that culture got dumped into computer science departments. And so when I think about resilience, I think about, okay, basically, you want me to survive, something that’s quite frankly not healthy for me and probably pretty toxic. And so I would love to come to a place where we no longer say, “Oh, let’s help people be resilient,” or, “Let’s help people persist.” Why don’t we create an environment that people can thrive and be healthy and take care of themselves rather than just expecting people to make it?
Dr. Joanna Goode:
There’s an ethos or a culture sometimes in computer science that it’s for the best and the brightest. And then courses and curriculum are designed to figure out who the best and brightest are and exit out other people. And that is the opposite of inclusion, particularly for folks who have been historically underrepresented or come from underserved communities in computer science or in education, especially students who are comparing themselves to students who come with a great deal of what we call preparatory privilege. They might have robots given to them for their birthdays. They might be attending computer camps. They might have gone to a highly resourced high school with lots of computer science courses. And then when they come into the same introductory course as somebody who has not had all that privilege, sometimes the students themselves, the instructors start mistaking that privilege with ability.
And so you have somebody with a lot of experience and somebody with little experience. And when courses are designed to not take that into consideration, all you’re doing is filtering for privilege. And as long as we continue to design courses, filter for privilege, teach content that feeds that privilege, that identifies and is aligned with that privilege, the folks who are underrepresented who did not have that sense of privilege are going to continue to be marginalized and weeded out under the guise of meritocracy. But of course, it is not a meritocracy, it’s just playing on this sense of preparatory privilege.
Dr. Brianna Blaser:
Somebody in the room has to be the advocate for people with disabilities, whether that’s a person with a disability themselves, somebody who maybe has somebody with a disability in their family, or just somebody that’s an ally. When I came into this work, I didn’t identify as a person with a disability, but I could still go in the room and say, “Wait, wait, wait. Is this accessible? Oh, wait a minute. Do we need a sign language interpreter?” And just having somebody who’s willing to be that squeaky wheel. We talk about things like, if you’re going to have diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in your department, are you including people with disabilities on that committee? Are you making sure that that’s officially part of their charge and they are doing that? But somebody has to be willing to be that person and keep saying it. But if somebody shows up in every meeting and saying, “You have to use the microphone or folks can’t hear,” eventually folks start using the microphone.