Asee peer logo

What Would You Do or Say? Interrupting Bias in Academic Settings

Download Paper |


2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

NEW SESSION Track : Learning Spaces, Pedagogy, & Curriculum Design Technical Session 8

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Learning Spaces, Pedagogy & Curriculum Design

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Gretchen Achenbach University of Virginia

visit author page

Gretchen Achenbach is a research scientist in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia, and at the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interests focus on science communication and gender issues in computing and technology.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Keywords: Computer Science, Information Technology, Gender

This session will introduce NCWIT's free “Interrupting Bias in Academic Settings” resource, a set of “real life” scenarios and supporting materials intended to help people become bias interrupters in their classrooms and academic departments. Although NCWIT focuses on gender and computing, the scenarios and recommendations are applicable to other fields and under-represented populations.

Intervening when we witness bias can be challenging; we may be reluctant to appear confrontational, or be afraid of saying the wrong thing. But unfortunately, even subtle instances of bias can discourage students and colleagues from under-represented groups from entering or persisting in computing and other fields. The good news is that we are more likely to act if we have had the opportunity to practice. This session will begin with a short primer on unconscious bias and its implications for women’s participation in computing. Then, we will use scenarios from the “Interrupting Bias in Academic Settings” resource to start a discussion about practical ways to intervene when we see bias occurring. In addition to reflecting on their own responses to bias, attendees will have been introduced to an activity they can bring back to their home institutions. Along with the scenarios, this easy-to-use resource includes suggested approaches for interrupting bias, tips for facilitating a discussion, and recommended readings. A supporting video and a slide deck can be downloaded from NCWIT’s website.

Achenbach, G. (2019, April), What Would You Do or Say? Interrupting Bias in Academic Settings Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015