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Women of Color in Computing: A Researcher-practitioner Collaborative

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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

Track: Special Topic - Computing & Technology Technical Session 5

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Special Topic: Computing & Technology

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Paper Authors


Frieda McAlear Kapor Center

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Frieda McAlear is a Senior Research Associate at the Kapor Center and one of the principal investigators of the Women of Color in Computing Researcher-Practitioner Collaborative. She has a decade of experience managing projects, developing evaluation and research methodology and building nonprofit technology capacity with socially progressive organizations in the Bay Area, Europe and Southern Africa. In 2013, she worked as an evaluator for an HIV/AIDS clinic serving villages in Lesotho and as a Program Coordinator for ZeroDivide in San Francisco in 2014. She holds a Masters of Research in Geography from Queen Mary, University of London, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Vesalius College, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Brussels.

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Allison Scott Kapor Center

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Dr. Allison Scott is the Chief Research Officer for the Kapor Center for Social Impact (KCSI), leading a research agenda aiming to increase diversity across the technology ecosystem. Her research examines: structural and psychological biases and barriers affecting the participation of diverse groups in STEM; intersectionality and girls of color in computing; the effectiveness of interventions to alleviate bias and increase participation of underrepresented groups in computing; and scaling strategic initiatives. Dr. Scott’s research has been funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation, and she is currently Principal Investigator for an NSF grant aiming to increase equity in access and participation in computer science education in California. Prior to her role at KCSI, Dr. Scott was Program Leader for the NIH's Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce Initiative and the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI). Dr. Scott holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hampton University.

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Keywords: Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Undergraduate, Professional

Although women of color are a substantial and rapidly growing segment of the total U.S. population of women, they are sharply and alarmingly underrepresented across all areas of the tech ecosystem, from computing education to the tech workforce and entrepreneurship and Venture Capital. Furthermore, initiatives designed to increase the diversity of the tech talent pipeline often focus on addressing the challenges faced by those marginalized by their racial/ethnic or gender identities alone, ignoring the complex and interconnected barriers experienced by women of color (Black/African American, Latinx/Hispanic, Native American/Alaskan/Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian). Aiming to address these stark disparities, the Women of Color in Computing Researcher Practitioner Collaborative, launched in August 2018, is working across a broad range of stakeholder groups to build a detailed and robust foundational body of research of the barriers, trends, and effective interventions specific to underrepresented women of color in tech to inform and scale new initiatives, policies, and funding priorities. This panel of principal investigators and practitioners will explore the data landscape and early findings of the Collaborative’s research portfolio across three stages of the computing ecosystem: Higher Education, the Tech Workforce, and Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital. Participants will be invited to discuss their reactions to the data presented, share personal reflections on the barriers they experienced to entry, persistence, and advancement in computing, and discuss promising practices being implemented at the university and industry level to explore promising practices for increasing the access, participation, and success of women of color at each of the three stages of the tech pipeline. Participants will also be provided with a data brief published by the Collaborative.

McAlear, F., & Scott, A. (2019, April), Women of Color in Computing: A Researcher-practitioner Collaborative Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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