The following list describes activities and policies that the Allen School has recently initiated to increase support for diversity and inclusion in our community. The list builds upon the many activities we were already doing and continue to do. We've heard from many members of the Allen School community about ways in which we can continue to improve our culture and practices. The work described below incorporates the priorities and best ideas of many committed students, faculty, and staff. We will continue to seek out ways to support our diverse community and build an inclusive program that others will be inspired to emulate. While it is difficult to describe some of these initiatives concisely, we want to keep our community informed of what we are working on.

Resources & Educational Opportunities

  • A new opt-in email list for undergraduates who identify as a member of an underrepresented group to share opportunities and resources available to students who identify with groups that are underrepresented in tech.
  • The Allen School Inclusive Community workshop has been reviewed, revised, and reorganized, with input from multiple sources, including the Allen School Faculty Executive Committee, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), and the Allen School Student Advisory Council. It is part of Allen School TA training and is also available for other communities.
  • Periodic anti-harassment trainings for faculty and academic student employees (ASEs), with participation strongly encouraged.
  • A list of best practices for inclusive courses, designed for Allen School faculty and TAs. This list was developed by faculty, our Diversity Committee, and our Student Advisory Council.
  • Extended our existing system for students to send instructors anonymous feedback in two directions: Enable students to copy members of the School leadership and/or student services staff, and extend access to the anonymous-feedback tool to TAs.
  • Significantly expanded support for the College of Engineering's STARS program. A STARS course on computational thinking, persistence, and much more doubled in size to include 30 students, many of whom are interested in pursuing a CSE degree. The class is taught by CSE faculty member Lauren Bricker.
  • Significantly expanded and revamped seminars and courses that on-ramp students to the Allen School and provide additional support for students who may benefit from additional instruction and academic skills in light of a range of academic preparation and backgrounds.
    • The seminar for new freshman direct admits now meets in small groups and covers a range of topics including acclimating to UW and the Allen School [CSE advisors].
    • The seminar for new transfer admits provides students support for adapting to the larger UW campus [CSE Advisors].
    • CSE 390Z supports students taking CSE 311 who would benefit from additional resources for the course's focus on mathematical rigor and proofs [Lauren Bricker, Nicole Riley, Phillip Garrison, Robert Minneker].
    • CSE 390B is a course that intertwines building a simulated computer with reflective and metacognitive exercises to build students' academic skills while providing practice in the computing domain [Leslie Ikeda, Dan Grossman, Aaron Johnston].
    • Allen School Scholars Program is an Early Fall Start course (CSE 190E) followed by year-long check-ins for direct-admits that helps prepare them for college life and provides a cohort of students who know each other [Lauren Bricker, Leslie Ikeda].
    • A new workshop alongside CSE 142 in Fall will help direct-admit students adjust to CSE courses in particular and university courses in general [Zorah Fung].
  • Expanded our annual Celebration of Diversity in Computing, previously an event focused on women in tech, to incorporate diversity more broadly. This event welcomes students, faculty, and alumni, and highlights our participants in both the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, as well as awarding the Lisa Simonyi Prize.
  • A speaker series aimed at undergraduates that discusses life and career skills, covering topics such as communication, personal finance, and others not part of the conventional curriculum. The series ran in Winter Quarter 2019 to provide students with “real-world” insights that will help them to succeed and advance long after graduation.
  • Expanded our course offerings addressing computer ethics and the social impact of computing at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
    • CSE 492E Computer Ethics helps Allen School undergraduates to understand how the code they write influences the world in which it operates and prepares them for the life-long practice of grappling with the often unanticipated consequences of innovation. The course invites students to explore issues spanning AI ethics, social good, utopianism, governance, inclusion, facial recognition, classification, privacy, automation, platforms, speculative design, identity, fairness, power and control, activism, and subversive technologies [Dan Grossman, Jared Moore].
    • CSE590w Accessibility Research Seminar is a course open to students at any level who are interested in examining the intersection of race, disability, and accessibility. The course explores topics such as AI and fairness, speech and speech technologies, fabrication, self-description, algorithms for government decision-making, disparities in the provision of health care, policing and prisons, and more [Jennifer Mankoff, Annie Ross].
    • CSE 599 Computer Ethics is a graduate-level seminar course exploring goals, philosophical approaches, and researchers' and technologists' responsibilities related to ethics along with the many kinds of ethical issues that impact technology and society today. Students learn different approaches to anticipating the unintended consequences of technology and have an opportunity to discuss and address issues related to applied technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, user interface design, facial recognition, misinformation, accessibility, and privacy [Katharina Reinecke].
    • CSE 599 Computing for Social Good explores broad, ongoing themes around computing for social good, including advances in human-computer interaction, computer networks, artificial intelligence, and sustainability. Students examine fundamental social and ecological challenges and consider what role, if any, technology should play in responding to them, taking a systems approach to trace root causes and find the right place(s) to make lasting change [Kurtis Heimerl].
    • CSE 599M Foundations of Fairness in Machine Learning explores the foundations of fairness in machine learning, including sources and measures of unfairness and possible interventions to alleviate it [Jamie Morgenstern].

Policies & Procedures

  • Revised protocols for the School’s mandatory email lists to ensure that these lists are used in a way that promotes a healthy, appropriate, and welcoming work environment for all members of those lists.
  • Allen School faculty searches now request a statement from all applicants about how they would contribute toward our mission with respect to diversity, in line with changes introduced across the College of Engineering.
  • A working group of senior faculty reviewed our 100-level courses. Their charge was to look at the current state of these courses and where we might like them to be in the future given enormous changes in computing technology, in teaching methods, and in student demand over the past decade. This encompasses curriculum, organization, programming language and environment, teaching methods and techniques, new devices, etc., as well as ensuring that our gateway courses are attractive and welcoming to the broadest group of students. We are now in the process of implementing the recommendations of this working group and have changed how we manage these courses.
  • Expanding our Direct Admission pathway to admit more computer science students earlier, and to better support students throughout their time at the UW. This includes developing student programming for Direct Admits in their first year, including a revamped and expanded Direct Admit seminar.
  • Evaluating our transfer admission process to make it more holistic, to enroll the best students from a variety of backgrounds.

Understanding Our Community & Fostering Ongoing Dialogue

  • Surveying our student populations on an ongoing basis to assess our current climate and to determine what inequities might exist among student experiences, which we will use to guide future policies and programming.
  • A report from our Diversity Committee on diversity and inclusion in the Allen School, to internally communicate current data, identify areas for improvement, and establish a baseline for future evaluations.
  • A weekly meeting of the Allen School Vice Director with G5PAC, a group of graduate students and postdocs, to discuss specific efforts to cultivate an inclusive environment and to identify areas where we can improve.
  • Moderated discussions related to inclusion and culture, to allow for better communication of concerns and ideas across the School.
  • Hosted “Below the Waterline: A Presentation on the National Academies Report on Sexual Harassment” by Professor Sharona E. Gordon, with participation from Allen School faculty, staff, and students. (Professor Ed Lazowska served on the National Academies study committee, and serves on the National Academies standing Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine that chartered the study.)

Supporting Student-led Efforts

  • Students established Minoirites in Tech (MiT), focused on fostering a diverse community that increases solidarity and support to combat low retention rates of minorities within industry.
  • Students established GEN1, which aims to support and celebrate Allen School students who are in the first generation of their family to attend college.
  • Students established Q++, a new student organization supporting LGBTQ students in the Allen School.
  • Our ACM student organization introduced a Big/Little mentoring program to help new majors connect with more senior students.
  • Our K-12 Ambassadors are better incorporating volunteers into their work, broadening their impact.
  • We’ve increased student, faculty and staff participation at the Tapia and Grace Hopper celebrations, and we’re sending students to oSTEM and Afrotech for the first time this year.

Supporting the Broader CS Community

  • Hosted a three-day OurCS workshop for CS undergraduate women with disabilities, to promote engagement in research.
  • Offering expanded opportunities for K-12 teachers to learn about computer science and effectively incorporate it into their classroom teaching, to ensure broader access to CS for K-12 students.
  • Our partnership with WA state high schools through the "UW in the High School" program continues to expand outside the Puget Sound region, particularly with several schools now interested in CSE 120, our CS Principles course, complementing continued interest in CSE 142.

To learn more about our efforts to broaden participation in computing and build an inclusive community, visit our main Diversity & Inclusion page, and also see our comprehensive list of other ongoing activities.