Recruitment and retention policies for diversity
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Recruitment and Retention Policies for Diversity. Notes from the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing – Chris Stewart. About the Conference. Purpose Highlight the technical contributions and career interests of diverse people in computing

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Recruitment and retention policies for diversity

Recruitment and Retention Policies for Diversity

Notes from the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing – Chris Stewart

About the conference

About the Conference

  • Purpose

    • Highlight the technical contributions and career interests of diverse people in computing

    • Forum on increasing the representation of underrepresented groups

  • Held every two years since 2001

  • Co-located with the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Pictures from the conference

Pictures from the Conference

Celebration of diversity

“Celebration of Diversity”

  • Approximate composition of the conference

    • From the foyer, I saw about 60 people…

      • 40% African American, 30% Hispanic, 20% White, 5% Indian, 5% Asian

  • Official stats

    • 431 attendees

    • 231 students, 62 faculty members, and 101 college/universities

    • 34 representatives from research labs

Who attended

Who Attended?

  • Research Universities

    • Auburn University – 26

    • Rice University – 22

    • UC Berkeley

    • Princeton

    • Texas A & M

    • Duke University

    • Boston University

    • University of Michigan

    • RIT

  • Liberal art colleges

    • Spelman

    • Vassar

Theme passion in computing diversity in innovation

Theme: Passion in Computing, Diversity in Innovation

“We [share] our passion for computing with anyone willing to hear our technical presentations, view our poster presentations, and witness our robotics operations in competition. But not all the problems we address are technical. We face many challenges in broadening participation in our community, in opening doors and keeping them open.”

Monica Martinez-Canales

Tapia Conference Chair 2007

Recruitment and retention for diversity

Recruitment and Retention for Diversity

  • Need for participation by underrepresented groups

  • Strategies to retain undergraduates

  • Recruitment and mentorship of diverse graduate students

  • Recruit diverse faculty at the Tapia Conference

What does underrepresented mean

What does “underrepresented” mean?

  • Any group whose percentage of the total population is significantly larger than their percentage in computing

    total BS BS in CS

    • Women 50.8% 58% 15.1%

    • Black 12.4% 6.6% 3.3%

    • Hispanic 14.8% 4.2% 4.4%

    • Native American 0.8% 0.7% 0.3%

Benefits of full participation

Benefits of Full Participation

  • Increase the number of people in the field

    • Love of computing is independent of gender and race

    • Artificial barriers are the bottleneck

      • It is worth trying to remove artificial barriers

        • 10,000 potential female PhD candidates

      • Potential niche

        • Attract more smart people by removing barriers at your institution

  • Other reasons for full participation

    • Diverse perspectives are useful in problem solving

    • It is a moral issue: everyone should have equal opportunity at any career path

Computing is too important to be left to men any one segment of the population

Computing is too important to be left to men [any one segment of the population].

Karen Spärek Jones

[addendum by Jan Curry]

Reasons underrepresented undergraduates change majors

Reasons Underrepresented Undergraduates Change Majors

  • Exit surveys indicate reasons similar to other majors

    • “I am better/will make more money in something else”

  • Focus groups indicate feelings of isolation and victimization

    • “I am the only one”

    • “I must represent my entire group”

    • “I am unfairly targeted/ignored”

    • “Everyone thinks that I am not competent”

  • Under-representation gives false credence to feelings of isolation/victimization

    • Maria Klawe (Pres. of Harvey Mudd) was accused of racism, “In that person’s eyes, I really was a racist”

    • Sometimes, we have to look beyond the expressed feelings to find the root cause

  • Based on workshop presentations and Maria Klawe's keynote "Mentoring Across Race and Discipline"

    Root causes for underrepresented undergraduate turnover

    Root Causes for Underrepresented Undergraduate Turnover

    • Most peers are in other disciplines

    • Few role models

      • Tiffani Williams (asst. prof. at Texas A & M) said that she was scared to deliver her first lectures because she didn’t know how an African American women would be viewed in the classroom

    • Broad and non-traditional college preparation

      • Access to computers, childhood experiences

    • Open-minded about computer science

    Strategies for undergraduate retention

    Strategies for Undergraduate Retention

    • Exciting teachers in introductory classes

      • Form a positive impression of computer science early

      • Common theme:

        computer science  programming

      • My view:

        computer science  boring

        • Emphasize the outcomes

      • Is computer science relevant to everyone? Explain why.

    Strategies for undergraduate retention1

    Strategies for Undergraduate Retention

    • Dedicate a staff member to diversity issues

      • Employed by many schools including Berkeley, Rice, and Boston University

      • Should this staff member be a faculty member?

        • Richard Tapia (and Roscoe Giles) argue YES! In the academic hierarchy, faculty members can get more done

        • Some students said this is ideal, but not necessary

      • Do they need to come from an underrepresented group?

        • Maria Klawe says she hopes not, since it would indicate a cycle

        • A workshop attendee noted that students may feel funneled to underrepresented faculty

    Strategies for undergraduate retention2

    Strategies for Undergraduate Retention

    • Create an atmosphere of diversity-awareness

      • Encourage students to join national networks

        • E.L. alliance (

        • NSBE and WEIO

      • Inviting websites and brochures

        • ALT tags on website images

      • Talk to students with a willingness to help

        • Sponsor activities/study sessions

        • Mentorship/encouragement for struggling students

    Recruitment and retention for diversity1

    Recruitment and Retention for Diversity

    • Need for participation by underrepresented groups

    • Strategies to retain undergraduates

    • Recruitment and mentorship of diverse graduate students

    • Recruit diverse faculty at the Tapia Conference

    Reasons underrepresented graduate students drop out or don t apply

    Reasons Underrepresented Graduate Students Drop Out (or Don’t Apply)

    • The research topic does not seem important

      • “After two years, I still don’t see the point”

      • “None of my friends care about my work”

    • Advisor-related issues

      • “My advisor doesn’t care”

      • Feelings of isolation/victimization

    • Similar issues bother students from well represented groups

      • Recruitment/retention strategies for underrepresented groups may increase the numbers of all students

    A recruitment strategy that excites students

    A Recruitment Strategy that Excites Students

    • Computing has and continues to transform society

      • Potential for the future excites people

    • Lack of interest stems from poor salesmenship

      • Sell the product not the sprocket! (Chris Stewart)

    • Recruitment strategies often exclusively target people that can solve technical problems in a vacuum

      • Affect on the real world?

    • Look for students that can solve real-world problems with technical tools

      • Plays into student interests

      • May be a more direct solution to urgent problems

    Based on Shirley Malcom’s keynote “It’s not just about the machine”

    Real world problems

    Real World Problems

    • Secure and fair voting

      • Cryptography? Networks?

    • Monitor human rights violations

      • Sensor technologies? Vision?

    • Crime fighting

      • Identity theft, unmasking criminals, finding patterns in evidence

    • Hurricane Katrina

      • Better weather forecasting (esp., predict hurricane intensities)

      • Systems in disaster recovery

  • “Change is a slow effect of changes in the mindsets of many”, Roscoe Giles

    • Students may have to work around advisors and protocols that are still focused on the sprocket

    • New approaches to evaluation – not just proofs and simulations

  • Recruitment and retention policies for diversity

    Progress for female and minority faculty at research universities, produced from past attempted solutions, has been too slow.

    Dr. Donna J. Nelson

    University of Oklahoma

    Recruit faculty candidates at tapia

    Recruit Faculty Candidates at Tapia

    • Leading schools are already there

      • Tufts, UC Irvine, Rice

    • Well qualified attendees

      • Top publishers [SC, AAAI, SIGCSE, PLDI]

      • Top schools [Wisc. Madison, UMD, Duke, UMD]

    • Excellent graduate school candidates also



    • Foster a diversity-aware atmosphere

      • Committed faculty/staff member on diversity issues

      • Recruit graduate students with the product not the sprocket

    • Utilize the Tapia Conference for faculty recruitment

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