Paving a Path to More Inclusive Computing
puting to be more inclusive and healthy, not just because we are
educators, but because we are members of that community.
There are myriad ways to answer the questions raised above
and the views here are by no means comprehensive. The challenges we face as computing educators are great, but the potential opportunity to impact the future for millions of learners—
many of whom might not otherwise have access to computing
education or consider a career in computing—is even greater.
If we are to realize the full impact that our field can have on
shaping current and future generations, then it is incumbent on
us to not shy away from the hard questions, but rather embrace
them as the means for pushing our field further forward in a
more inclusive and supportive way.
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DOI: 10.1145/3230700 Copyright held by author/owner. Publication rights licensed to ACM..
PROMOTING DIVERSITY AND A HEALTHY,
INCLUSIVE CULTURE IN COMPUTING
As computing science educators, we sometimes tend to focus on
the content that is being taught rather than the broader context in
which that content will eventually be used. While we have known
for many years that women and many minorities groups are underrepresented in computing (both in academia and industry),
the past few years have raised public consciousness with regard
to just how toxic the culture in the high-tech sector is to women
and underrepresented groups [ 11]. As computing science educators, we have a moral obligation to answer the question: how can
we better promote diversity and broaden participation in computing, and inculcate a healthy and inclusive culture?
For all its potential, computing has been a field with a significant lack of diversity for many years. And while there are recent
signs that the gender disparity is improving, albeit slowly—the
National Center for Women and Information Technology reports
that the percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women increased from 12% in 2010 to 16% in 2014—there is clearly much
more that needs to be done in continuing to increase diversity.
Many schools and universities, often with public and private
support, have been working tirelessly to broaden participation in
computing. Yet, by itself, broadening participation is not enough.
We need to promote the idea that everyone must play a role in
creating a healthy and inclusive culture in computing. We need to
find ways to evolve beyond a culture of competition and tribalism
(e.g., programming language wars) and social division (e.g., “
bro-grammers”) to a culture that understands the value of diversity
both intrinsically (i.e., fairness and social justice) and for its utility
(i.e., including different viewpoints helps to produce better solutions). We need to be advocates for our students, our colleagues,
and ourselves to build a culture that not only seeks to welcome
more diversity to our field, but actively works to maintain it. Gains
in attracting underrepresented groups to computing will have little long-term impact if those gains are eroded by cultural toxicity
that eventually pushes those same individuals out of the field. We
need to work on ways to effectively improve the culture in com-
Rather, we must consider new
models in which computing
education is more readily
incorporated throughout other
disciplines, where the
selection of the appropriate
techniques and abstractions to
teach can be made by those
with requisite domain knowledge.