S3xE8: Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education

February 6, 2023
S3xE8: Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education

Episode Summary

AIICE stands for Alliance for Identity Inclusive Computing Education. It is an organization dedicated to “empowering the next generation of computer scientists by eliminating systemic barriers.” This episode is with Dr. Shaundra (Shani) B. Daily, Ph.D., the backbone director of the organization. We discuss how she and her Co-PI, Dr. Nicki Washington, Ph.D., and past podcast guest, wrote the grant that started it all, how we should stop trying to “fix” students, that we should instead focus on fixing the systems that “requires” “fixing” students, and about their 3C program, a professional development program that is part of trying to make systemic change.

You can also download this episode directly.


Kristin[00:06] Hello, and welcome to the CS-ED Podcast, a podcast where we talk about teaching computer science with computer science educators. I am your host, Kristin Stephens-Martinez, an assistant professor of the practice at Duke University. And joining me today is Shani Daily, who is also here at Duke but is across the way as a professor of the practice in the electrical and computer engineering department.

Shani[00:27] Hey there. Good to see you, Kristin. Happy to be here for the podcast.

Kristin[00:31] So, Shani, first, I’d like to ask, how did you get to where you are today? You gave an amazing talk at this past SIGCSE symposium. And I’m sure the audience, though, will not be tired to hear it again.

Shani[00:43]So it’s been what’s best described as a circuitous path here. I started off as a civil engineering major at Florida A&M, Florida State University College of Engineering. And after doing an interview with a professor and finding out what that really meant, I decided I wasn’t actually meant to be a civil engineer, and I switched my major to electrical engineering. I went on to do my electrical engineering undergrad there, as well as my master’s there. But because I wasn’t really aware of the process of research and what that meant and understanding what you wanted to do, I never was really able to find a research path that fit where I was. So I ended up switching to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Media Lab there, where I was working with Seymour Papert and David Cavallo in the Future of Learning Group, as well as Rosalind Picard, who runs the Affective Computing Group. So I did a master’s there and a Ph.D. I finished that in 2010. And then I thought that I was going to work for a company that I started while I was in grad school, but ended up getting recruited to Clemson University in their school of computing, where I was for four years. I spent then two years at the University of Florida in their computer and information science and engineering department. And then, in 2017, I arrived at Duke.

Kristin[02:30] And then you moved on to starting what our main topic is the Alliance for Identity, Inclusive Computing Education. Or is it pronounced AIICE?

Shani[02:39] Yeah. So AIICE. And actually, I should say, Dr. Nicki Washington, who’s in computer science, really led that effort. I helped write the grant, of course, and I work on the backbone. But the genesis of it was the chair of computer science asking her to dream big and apply for this NSF includes grant proposal RFP.

Kristin[03:05] Cool. Yeah, Nicki was on the podcast in season two though, for a little bit of behind-the-scenes. We recorded, actually, I think exactly two years ago in August, but that episode went out, I don’t remember anymore, like in January or February or something.

Shani[03:23] That would have been right before we wrote the grant because that was August 2020. And I think that’s right around the time that we started writing and recruiting and trying to bring all the folks together to be a part of this.

Kristin[03:38] So how did you write a grant that in some ways sounded like you would not really have defined what would happen until you had found the people that would help you do it?

Shani[03:52] Yeah. So, you know, one of the things, if you want to bring people together, you really want to make sure that there’s a shared vision, right, that everybody can buy into. But for us to define it a priori and be like, “Hey, just come on board.” Right, then it’s like, okay, you know, that’s nice, but, you know, do people really believe in it? Do they, you know, they might support it, they might think it’s great but is it something they’re really going to buy into and invest, you know, their best resources, which is which is themselves. Their, you know, their time and energy, which is, you know, their expertise. Right. And so us kind of laying the framework for like this is how we want to think about we want to think about identity. We want to think about increasing participation. We want to think about, you know, issues of inclusion and belonging. Can we bring you on to really help us think about what that shared vision is going to be? Right. And then what are the pieces that you can contribute to that? Right.

Shani[04:46] So then we kind of sat down, and Nicki and I said, okay, like, who do we know. Like who are the experts in the K through 12 space? Who are the experts in the higher education space? Right. Who are the experts in industry? Like who are the people that we need to be talking to? And then we just tapped into our own networks. We tapped into people we knew, their networks. And we just reached out, and we said, “Hey, like we’re trying to do this thing, right? We think it’s important. And we think the things that you have done and how you think and what you care about are really important to what we’d like to do. And can you help us really define what it is?” Right. So, you know, then we started reaching out to folks like Joanna Goode at the University of Oregon. Right. Her exploring computer science, right, is huge in the in the community. I think she recently won, you know, an award for the kind of work that she’s done in the space. We reached out to Valerie Barr, who’s also, she was at Mount Holyoke at the time. She’s moved to Bard now, who’s also, you know, very well known in the CS education space. We reached out to Allison Scott, the Kapor Center. Right. So they’re doing a lot of social impact, social justice work, you know, across K through 12, higher ed, and the industry space to think about those things. CSTA- computer science teacher association.

Shani[06:15] So we just started reaching out to people and trying to figure out, like, here’s the general framework, like what are the things that we really need to think about? And what those people did is, really help us say, okay, here are the things, right? So, you know, after our first couple conversations, we said, okay, thinking about these different spaces, the way that we need to work is to think about what are the aspects that can really lead to institutional transformation. Right. One of the things that was huge in our thinking is that we didn’t want to be student-centered. Right? So historically, interventions focus on how do you fix the student, how do you get the student in a better place? Right. And less is spent on, well, how do we think about the institutions that the students are moving into? And so through these conversations, we started developing, okay, what are those things that we should pay attention to to accomplish this kind of institutional transformation? Right.

Shani[07:22] So we came up with professional development. How do you think about what educators and faculty are doing? What TAs are doing? How do you think about the actual curricula and pedagogy? Right. And that’s beyond just being culturally relevant. Right. But what are the practices that you’re doing in the classroom, in your departments, that are, you know, either blocking or permitting students to feel included and that they belong? We start to think about policy, right? So, you know, if you don’t have the right policies in place, you’re not going to be able to diversify your student body or retain your student body. And then, you know, thinking about research. Right. So Jakita Thomas and Yolanda Rankin from Auburn and Florida State, respectively, talk about intersectional computing. How are you thinking about your policies, your practices, your curriculum through an intersectional lens? Right. So it’s not just about race or ethnicity. It’s not just about gender. But, right, we have intersectional identities. And are we really studying the ways in which these identities interact and impact how we experience the environment, how we experience the curricula, so on and so forth? And lastly, we really wanted to think across all of those four areas about accessibility. And so, we worked with the DO-IT Center out of the University of Washington. So our partners not only helped, you know, shape how we were thinking about our kind of targets, which became our constellations, our working groups for the alliance, but also like what those activities should be within those constellations. So what were they choosing to work on specifically?

Kristin[09:11] Could you elaborate more on those constellations? Because obviously, I only think of that in terms of the galaxies and stars

Shani[09:18] Yeah. So if you look at the literature on collective impact, the suggested structure for how you operate is through a set of working groups that they call constellations. For example, I mentioned we have a policy, we have training, we have curricula and pedagogy, we have research, and then we have accessibility. Accessibility is not a constellation by itself. They work across the other four. But everybody who’s doing things related to policy has quarterly meetings where they come together and talk about what they’re doing, talking about progress, talking about things they need to shift, talking about ways they can collaborate. They come together and have these conversations. And so that is supposed to, you know, collectively enhance the work that the alliance is doing as a whole. And one thing to add is there’s also a backbone structure, which is actually what I’m responsible for, that really pays attention to how these constellations are working together.

Shani[10:24] So we facilitate the meetings, we attend the meetings, we look for opportunities to bring more people onto existing constellations, we listen to what’s happening and make decisions about what other constellations there might need to be. And so constellations aren’t meant to be stagnant. They can move based on what we’re collectively seeing as an alliance we might need to address. So, for example, right now, our policy constellation is really thinking, you know, what does advocacy look like? How much of advocacy needs to be within a policy constellation? Or does advocacy needs to be a thing in and of itself? We’re in challenging times. As far as, you know, what we’re saying is important. We’re thinking about the LGBTQ community. We’re thinking about folks who actively have their rights being attacked right now. So, you know, we have to constantly evolve our thinking. We have to have our pulse on what’s happening. Our departments are what they are, but, you know, we live in a larger society where these things make a difference in how we’re thinking about them. So we constantly have to be in touch with what’s going on and evolve ourselves accordingly, especially given what we’re saying we’re trying to do and the kind of impact that we want to have with respect to transforming institutions.

Kristin[11:59] Okay. So if I understand correctly, like the backbone piece that you’re talking about is this mix of trying to see the entire picture to see if there is ways that because you can see the forest for the trees at that kind of level, you can help curate what’s going on a little bit more because the others are very focused and in some ways need to be focused on their particular tree to try and like get it to work, their particular constellation. And then on top of that, you’re partially, I’m going to call it, the accountability person that goes, hey, you’re supposed to meet again. Let me schedule that meeting for you to make it easy for you to actually go to that meeting you’re supposed to go to.

Shani[12:37] Yeah, that is definitely in part as far as facilitating the different activities. And we have some people that might be in policy and research. All right, so some people are seeing what’s happening in more than one constellation. But definitely part of our role is really seeing, you know, what’s happening across the constellations. We also have to pay attention, as the backbone, to building public will. So how do people know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what the vision is. So our Byte-Sized DEI-J series is an alliance wide right, meant to be educational in part but also helping people to understand what the alliance is trying to do. We do all of our social media, so when our 3C fellows or when people in our constellations, right, they’re giving talks or they have events coming up, we make sure to help to advertise what’s happening. So really raising the profile of what’s happening or what people are doing in the constellations. We’re also paying attention to sustainability. Even though we have, you know, it’s $10 million for five years, we’ve written probably four or five smaller grants since then to continue to support other things that have come up. As far as like either how we’re structured internally or other activities that we’d like to do as an alliance and helping people to do that. We’re also thinking further out. So once the NSF funding ends, like what’s next, how do we continue to sustain? We’re thinking about what people are doing as activities, we’re thinking about how we’re structured, we’re thinking about our shared vision, we’re thinking about building public will and communication, and then maybe most importantly, we’re thinking about shared measures, which is basically something that everybody across the alliance use so that we have a common vocabulary and a common way to talk about the impact that we’re having. And so we’ve been a part of several meetings, especially over the summer, with BPC alliances, which are not Includes Alliances, but also include other Includes Alliances that are not necessarily computing focused, figuring out like what should our shared measures be? How should we talk about impact? How should we work with other alliances as well as other Broadening Participation in Computing Alliances?

Kristin[15:06] It sounds like a lot of work. Like I’m a little overwhelmed and trying to think of what the next question should be.

Shani[15:12] Welcome to my world.

Kristin[15:18] Let’s see. So, something I wanted to highlight, because I really liked it, and I think I tweeted almost every one of those videos was the. The byte, the what you call it.

Shani[15:29] Byte-Sized DEI-J.

Kristin[15:30] I really liked that one because, like, it was a lovely little, you know, here’s a short video that you can consume really fast and hopefully you get something useful out of it. But I love how you point out the communication piece, because it is important for people to be aware of what you’re doing, so do you have any highlights of what’s going on right now?

Shani[15:54] Oh, well, you know, everything to me has the ability to be highlighted. Ultimately, you know, we want people to adopt identity inclusive practices. Everything that folks in the network are doing and then some people who aren’t in the network yet is relevant to pushing, you know, the vision forward. So, Valerie Barr, you know, again at Bard, is working on TA training, right. And so, what does inclusive TA training look like? How does that improve conditions in the classroom for students? Nicki Washington at Duke is working on understanding students’ perceptions of race in the classroom. So how do students experience what’s happening? We don’t really know. She’s also working, and actually, we’re working together on the 3C Fellows program, which we are on our third cohort now and, you know, continue to push that forward. The Kapor Center is pushing forward our shared measures and really trying to dig in and figure out how can we be more collaborative? Like we’re having conversations with CERP about their data buddies and how can we inform their data buddies, potentially use their data buddies survey which looks at what’s happening in computing and, you know, what do we do with that? We have Georgia Tech constellations, who is doing a lot of teacher professional development, right?

Shani[17:33] So we constantly have things happening. I would say, you know, something that’s really exciting to me is because we’ve had three cohorts of 3C fellows. We now have 200 something people who are developing curricula and modules and they’re pushing it out. UC San Diego just did a second round of their own race, gender in computing class that they haven’t had before. We have other people who are doing talks at SIGCSE, who are doing talks at RESPECT, who are doing talks at other conferences, that are incorporating these ideas into what they do. The University of Texas at Austin, we had a meeting with them not too long ago in Denver, and they were saying how they totally overhauled their inclusive practices course that they teach. Right. So there’s these things that are, you know, not necessarily done by member organizations, but are being done by people who have participated in things that we’ve developed as an alliance and they’re having impact. Right. So lots of things to highlight. But I guess that’s biased to me because it’s kind of my job to want to raise the profile of everybody.

Kristin[18:52] Well, that’s partially what this episode is about, to kind of highlight AIICE and see what AIICE is up to, and if there is anything that would be useful for people to know about when it comes to AIICE. So how about we talk about the 3C program a little bit because that’s what I’m currently doing, so I’m in the second year working on the deliverable for the second year. Tell us more, how about, what is the overall purpose of the 3C program and how it’s structured.

Shani[19:23] So a little bit about the genesis. So Nicki Washington, again, came here to Duke in 2020. She was working on a course, her race, gender, and class in computing course. And 2020 was what 2020 was, murder of George Floyd, COVID, all of these things, and she had written a paper about the lack of cultural competence in computing. And that was, in SIGCSE, and the timing of it was just extraordinary. Right. And so a lot of people started reaching out to her, basically to get her syllabus, get her resources. And she was like, well, I don’t think that’s a good idea, right, because, one, she had invested a lot of time and energy into educating herself and developing the course materials, but also because of, you know, we’re talking about identity, intersectionality, racism, bias, discrimination.

Shani[20:24] If you don’t invest the time to learn those things yourself, right, you could potentially do more harm than good. Right. But what she said was well, I would be willing to develop a professional development for people who would like to do these things in their courses. Right. So historically, if you look at undergraduate computing departments, right, we already know we have diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. And as I mentioned earlier, we typically focus on student interventions rather than systemic, excuse me, racism and bias that impact, you know, students from marginalized groups. And again, right, we’re talking about race and ethnicity, we’re talking about gender, we’re talking about class, we’re talking about ability and disability, we’re talking about LGBTQ. So we have students who are marginalized in computing, we’ve typically focused on them.

Shani[21:21] So this professional development is really about focusing on the faculty, the staff, the postdocs, the graduate students, and other professionals who are impacting these marginalized students, who typically don’t have training in, you know, these more social science topics. Right. You don’t go through a competing program and learn about identity. You don’t learn about racism and bias. You don’t learn about discrimination. You don’t learn about intersectionality. Right. You just don’t. But are expected somehow to create inclusive learning environments for students and are also, and maybe that’s part of the problem is maybe it’s not expected, but are leaving out of classes like algorithms classes in general, topics of identity. Right. And so students are going on to develop harmful and biased technologies because they’re not learning about these topics when they’re in their undergraduate curriculum.

Shani[22:25] So the 3C Fellows program, which Nicki joined up with myself and Cecilé Sadler, who was at the time a graduate student at Duke, now she’s at the Media Lab, which I’m sad and excited for her about, and we developed kind of what the course structure would be. So we came up with a two-year program. And as you know from your participation, the first year is really about learning about these topics. Right. Creating a safe space to talk about these topics and bringing in people who are experts in the field. Right. Like we’ve invested a lot of time and energy to learn about these things, but at the end of the day, all three of us are black women, and, you know, that’s not our day-to-day. Right. So we bring in social scientists. We bring in Eduardo Bonilla Silva, who’s here at Duke. We bring in Ruha Benjamin. We bring in Safiya Noble. We bring in Lee Baker, who’s in cultural anthropology. Right, we bring in these folks who think about these things and research these things and to help, well, ourselves and participants of the program to learn more. And then to spend, you know, the second hour of our two-hour Saturday sessions applying what we’ve learned in the context of computing. How does it help us think about our practices? How does it help us think about our policies? How does it help us think about our curricula? And then, in the second year, our participants are expected to create a new course or a new module or some kind of new program based on the lessons learned. And then to, you know, distribute. So and then we celebrate you and, you know, push it out there and encourage people to get to know more. So that’s the general, how the program is structured and what we’re hoping people will get out of it. Every 3C fellow becomes an affiliate of AIICE. So you’re considered to be affiliated with AIICE once you go through the program and your course materials and stuff like that, you know, we let people know that you have them and that people can kind of reach out and stuff like that. So we’re hoping that through people’s involvement, this kind of more micro intervention with faculty, staff, etc., will lead to larger things that begin to happen when they take not just the course in the module, but the knowledge itself back to their own institution.

Kristin[25:14] So you’re starting the third cohort, which means the first cohort is done with its two kind of two-year program. The second cohort, which I’m part of, we’re kind of starting our second year. What have you learned about running these things and what would you say to someone who is thinking about applying to be part of the fourth cohort?

Shani[25:39] Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that, you know, we wanted to make sure is that we were being flexible and adaptable in how we were thinking about it. Right. So we had an idea of what we thought would work. We also solicited and continue to solicit feedback from our cohorts about what we should be doing. Right. And so, you know, again, we have our perspectives as black women, but there are other identities that we cover that we don’t hold. So, for instance, we had a trans woman participating in our cohort who spoke up and said, hey, I think that the readings that you are providing are giving a skewed perspective on my experience as a trans woman. And so we responded to that and adapted to that.

Shani[26:49] In the very first cohort, I was using the term preferred pronouns, and a student participant spoke up and corrected me and said, it’s not preferred pronouns, it’s just my pronouns, right? It’s who I am. Just like, it’s who you are. Right. So I corrected that. And, you know, we announced to the larger group that it was a mistake. Right. So, a lot of we’ve learned a lot of, you know, modeling being corrected and it being okay to be corrected. We’ve learned, you know, being responsive to our participants’ perspective and making sure we incorporate that and make sure, you know, we’re respecting identities that are not our own. I think we’ve done a good job. We did some data collection, and, you know, people are reporting that they feel like they have more knowledge, but they also feel like they have more self-efficacy or confidence when it comes to talking about these things, utilizing these topics in their classrooms. And I think we have, from just the first cohort, like 67 modules and courses. That’s already, as far as I’m concerned, a huge win. Right. Because it’s 67 more things that weren’t necessarily out there before that are taking, you know, identity as a core topic, but also thinking more holistically about how do you change things within your department, within your institution.

Kristin[28:23] Awesome. Like, this is reminding me of, like, I think you shared that story about “it’s not preferred pronouns, it’s just pronouns,” during one of the sessions when I was part of your cohort. And I think like within a week or two, one of my students identified as LGBTQ, and she pointed out that I had not asked anyone at the beginning of the semester what their pronouns were. And the fact that you kind of modeled how to kind of accept that kind of criticism and explained that story, I then kind of literally tapped into my own memory of how you had handled it and the kind of like responded in kind to that student in front of the entire class. Like definitely seeing how you kind of role modeled that helped me also be able to better handle that kind of, I wouldn’t call it a contentious moment, but it definitely was a moment that could have turned contentious if negative feelings had arisen in that moment and reacting to something like those kinds of negative emotions. So I do appreciate that.

Shani[29:36] Yeah, that’s great. I’m glad to hear that, that I’m going to take that W.

Kristin[29:42] And so I think something that I do want to point out is being part of the 3C program is a lot of work, and it’s important work. Like, the only way to basically gain a whole lot of knowledge is to sit down and gain a whole lot of knowledge. And so could you speak to that a little bit so that those who are going to apply to the next cohort for the 3C program, because we’re recording in August 2022, but this episode’s going out in spring 2023.

Kristin[30:18] So what would you say to someone who first, we have to be honest about that, it is a bunch of work, but also to explain to someone who’s kind of gut reaction is, but I don’t want to do all of that work, but I want this anyway.

Shani[30:34] Yeah, well, I would point to, you know, the people that we would be working with all have degrees. And the people who we are working with all made the choice at some point or another that they wanted to do the work necessary to acquire the degree, to say that they had the knowledge and the skills necessary to do what they do. Right. A lot of people do not consider diversity, equity, and inclusion as skill based or knowledge based. They assume that, well, of course I want to be inclusive. Right? And they assume that because they have an attitude or what they feel is a disposition towards being inclusive, of course, that’s what I want for my students, that it’s just going to magically happen, but it’s simply not true. You have to have the tools necessary to do this work in the same way that you had to have the tools necessary to do the work that you do on a daily basis. So if you are okay with the work that it took to do what you’re doing, then you have to similarly be okay to do this work and to acknowledge that it just doesn’t come naturally because you, you know, quote unquote, have a good heart. Or because you believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion. It doesn’t work like that.

Shani[31:59] I did not grow up, right, identifying as part of the LGBTQ community. And I can’t rely on my, quote unquote good friend to necessarily help me to understand things. So I have to invest time, I have to invest energy, I have to reach out, and further develop myself. And just because I teach this course, I still have literally a development plan for myself, where I’m reading, where I’m going to events, where I’m watching movies and listening to things, to continue to educate myself. Right. Because that’s just not part of my identity, it’s not part of my day-to-day in a way where I can develop the fluency and the competence I need to make sure that the environments I’m creating aren’t leaving out or discriminating against identities that I don’t hold, even as a black woman. So, you know, my advice is, you know, one, recognize that it is a skill and that you have to have the knowledge t to have diverse, equitable, inclusive environments for our students, whether that’s through policy, whether that’s through practices or whether that’s through your interpersonal interaction, and then make a decision to develop yourself in the same way that you did for what you do on a day-to-day to make your job happen.

Kristin[33:30] I love that. It reminds me a little bit of how many people feel like they know how to educate people because they’ve been through the education system.

Shani[33:40] They’ve been educated. Everybody knows.

Kristin[33:42] Yeah. You know how to educate yourself. Hopefully. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean you know how to make a good educational environment where people learn.

Shani[33:51] Right. And that’s like the thorn in the teacher’s side, right? Everybody thinks they know how to tell the teacher what to do because they went through it. Like, well, have I been educated? I know you know, this. This is what it should be. You know? You don’t.

Kristin[34:08] Yeah. And then that leads to all of the lack of respect towards teachers that basically demote them to glorified babysitters, yet not at the babysitting rate.

Shani[34:20] Yeah. Yeah. Babysitters get paid more, right. You know, honestly, I would say it’s the same for people who do diversity equity inclusion work. It is one demoted to not research. Right. Which it is. It’s two, you know, not respected as rigorous. So somehow, you’re expected to make things happen and create change but not respected at the level of your peers so that you can really do the work.

Kristin[34:54] I wonder why is that? Is it because like, similar to how everyone has been educated, so they have an opinion about education? Like everyone has an identity, so they have it like they’re more dismissive of it? Or is it more, everyone’s scared of the amount of work it would take to really address it, and so they’d rather say, it’s not a thing.

Shani[35:17] I think the, you know, the amount of work probably plays into it. But at the end of the day, this work takes resources. It takes resources in order to change institutions. Right. I don’t know, I should look that up because I’m curious, I don’t know what institutions paid when COVID hit, but when COVID hit, we had to all drastically change how we did things. Right. Had to get online. Had to invest in resources to make sure that students could do things remotely. There was probably a significant amount of money that it took in order to change the way we did things from our norm to handle the situation of COVID.

Shani[35:54] Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, all of these things. They take money. It’s not just that you have the knowledge and you invest, you know, in the skill base. Right. It takes money to do things differently. Frankly, it’s easier and probably more of a drop in the bucket to spend money on student interventions. Right. Because then we can say we did this program. You can do programs all day without doing the work of changing what you’re doing that creates the necessity for the program in the first place. And so, one, things have been working for a certain group of people for a very long time. Right. And we could not change anything, and things would continue to work for that group of people. We’re producing, you know, as far as some people are concerned, we’re producing majors, we’re getting folks out and we’re doing things. And so, you know, overcoming that inertia to say, no, we can’t continue to just stay where we are, like we have to move past that, we have to do things differently.

Shani [37:03] Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility. Like they are social justice issues, you know, point blank. Right. Nothing more needs to be said. People don’t aren’t necessarily moved by that. Right. Some people, and I don’t like having to say it, but some people are moved by the argument of, well, if we have these more inclusive and diverse spaces, then we’re going to be more innovative, and we’re going to make more money. Right. Some people will listen to that bottomline. And so, what is the thing that makes people want to move? Is it the threat of legal action? Is it, you know, knowing that maybe you’ll be more innovative? Is it the money argument? Or are you okay with the social justice piece? I’d be willing to bet money that at least our first two cohorts, the large majority of folks, were on the social justice side of things. Right. They were there because they felt like it was important, it’s a part of who they are, and they’re doing it for that reason. But, you know, reaching the folks who aren’t swayed by the social justice piece of things is something we have to figure out. Now I believe that at the end of the day just becomes a policy thing, and that’s why we have to focus on policy because if you don’t have the policies in place, we can’t rely on people’s hearts to create change. Right. We have to have the things in place that force people to do the things that we need them to do so that we can change how things are because it’s a social justice issue.

Kristin[38:41] And I think, to add nuance to that, I don’t think it’s necessarily that the social justice argument, they don’t buy that argument. I think it’s more that it is not a sufficient argument because their priority order is not the same potentially as others because they have kind of more urgent or more important things. So social justice is kind of like, Oh, it’s top ten, but it’s not top three. If it was top three, it would have gotten me here. Does that make sense?

Shani[39:17] It does. I would push back, though, because I have definitely met folks that don’t think it’s a social justice issue and actually rely on ideas of people being qualified, people being ready, and people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and getting to it. And that could just solve it. There’s still folks who rely on that. Right. I don’t think that’s a large majority. Right, I will say that. But I 100% have met the. Well, things are working the way that, you know, it’s worked like this for us for this long. And it’s like, well, define work. Right. Define what it means for our system to be working, for whom, and on what terms? Right. There’s definitely people who are still in the, well if you just put in the hard work, right, if you’re okay with rigor, right, which you know, that just whatever. But it’s still a thing. Its still a thing.

Kristin[40:23] I think I’m having this funny moment where like, I definitely feel that my worldview is probably more Pollyanna than some people, but I’m not surprised that there are people like that who exist.

Kristin[40:37] All right. So we’re coming to a close. So how about is there anything that I didn’t ask that you wish I had or any comments you’d like to make?

Shani[40:48] You know, I would just say, in general, we have this alliance, we have our initial member organizations, but we’re always looking for like-minded people who want to impact institutional transformation. And so we’re always looking for folks. I, as the backbone director, definitely, I’m looking for folks who want to come on board, who want to adopt our shared measures, who want to subscribe to our tenets of identity-inclusive computing, and really, really make change. So, you know, open invitation, you know, for folks to contact me about, you know, being involved and seeing how we can work together.

Kristin[41:37] Awesome. Well, with that, I think we can do our last part, which is too long, didn’t listen TL; DL. What would you say is the most important thing you’d want our listeners to get out of our conversation?

Shani[41:48] I think I might go back to our last point. These challenges around diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, they’re not going to solve themselves, they’re not going to change just by one program. We really have to think holistically about our institutions and what we’re doing for our students, why we’re doing it for them, and how we’re going to equip ourselves to really do what’s right by them. So, I just hope that everybody will adopt, you know, really identity-inclusive strategies and really carry these banners forward.

Kristin[42:34] Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Shani.

Shani[42:38] Yeah, my pleasure.

Kristin[42:39] This was the CS-ED Podcast hosted by me Kristin Stephens-Martinez and produced by Amarachi Anakaraonye. And remember, teaching computer science is more than just knowing computer science. And I hope you have found something useful for your teaching today.


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