REU for Women in Color at FIU

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As part of her NSF CAREER Award – Cracking the diversity code: Understanding computing pathways of those least represented in order to foster their representation, Dr. Monique Ross hosted eleven women studying computing from all over the country for a research experience for undergraduates. The objective of the two weeks (virtual) program was to expose these women to a pathway to the computer science Ph.D. that they perhaps hadn’t ever considered – computer science education research.

In recent years, the computing community has demonstrated a shift in priorities that include not just exploring new technologies but also understanding how and why computing has representation disparities especially when it comes to women, Black, and Hispanic student enrollment and persistence. Who better to investigate these disparities than those leases represented – Black and Hispanic women? While participation in the REU did not require self-identifying as Black or Hispanic, it certainly enticed and excited them to apply and participate in an intensive two-week workshop that explored topics like – underrepresentation, computer science education research, education philosophies, epistemological stances, research methodologies, methods, and more…

And when the time was up, they all elected to continue to meet over the summer and throughout the year. Because as it turns out these amazing women were craving opportunities and community and this REU gave them both. We look to continue our work the REU2020 cohort throughout the year, engaging them in data collection of more women in computing and launching a new cohort in Spring 2021.  If we truly wish to broaden participation in computing we have to actively seek them out and invite them in. Upon completion of just two weeks, our REU participants overwhelming demonstrated an increased interest in graduate studies and with any luck, they will choose our FIU.

None of this could have been possible without the support and commitment of entire LEARN-CS (Listening and Engaging with Alternative Research Narratives in CS) research team – Stephanie Lunn, Maral Kargarmoakhar, Leila Zahedi, Jasmine Batten, Jake Lopez, Atalie Garcia, Carolina Uribegosselin, and Disha Patel.