Highlighting efforts and providing the rationale to increase the participation and
success of underrepresented groups in computing.
ThiS iS the first in a new Communications Viewpoints Broadening Participation column series that will be dited by me. The purpose
of the column is inform, invigorate
conversation, and inspire action in the
computing community concerning issues in broadening participation. This
column will tend to be U.S.-centric because broadening participation in the
U.S. is what I know best. What I mean
by broadening participation in the U.S.
is increasing the inclusion of individuals from underrepresented groups,
such as women, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and persons with disabilities, in the computing field at all levels. In other countries
and regions of the world underrepresented groups would be defined differently. I distinguish “broadening participation” from “diversity,” which is a
much broader concept. Diversity refers
to the variety of backgrounds and life
experiences of individuals including
geographical, cultural, economic, and
other differences, regardless of underrepresentation. The computing field
has tremendous diversity. As an example, more than half of the computer
university of Washington Computer Science Professor Richard Ladner, left, signs with
some of the participants in the first Summer academy for advancing Deaf and hard of
hearing in Computing, held during the summer of 2007.
science doctorate degrees in the U.S.
are earned by people from countries
other than the U.S.
Readers might wonder why I am qualified to edit a column on broadening
participation: I am a white male, not
a minority and not disabled. Nonethe-
less, I have a particular sensitivity to
issues involving broadening participation because of my life history as a son
of deaf parents who were part of the
deaf community. You might not think
of deaf people as a minority group but
the construct of oppressed minority
group for the deaf community does fit
in many ways, as brilliantly described