IEEE Computer Society: Investing in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Diversity, equity and inclusion are more than buzz words for the IEEE Computer Society (CS).  In recognition of this vital activity, during 2021, CS established its Diversity & Inclusion Projects & Program Proposals initiative and worked with the IEEE Foundation to launch the IEEE Computer Society Diversity & Inclusion Fund (CS D&I Fund) to support the initiative. Since its founding, CS has received an ever increasing number of proposals to its annual call and through 2023 invested in thirteen worthwhile initiatives. Here are just three of these impactful programs:

IEEE Learn-Compute Camp

India has about 700 tribal groups throughout the country, called “Scheduled Tribes.” For students coming from these rural areas, the journey from tribal lands to bustling urban cities can seem challenging, especially when it comes to technology.

To help with this transition, the IEEE Computer Society (CS), along with KIL-Kotagiri, sponsored the IEEE Learn-Compute Camp 1.0, hosted at Kengari Panchayat Nilgiris, Govt Higher Secondary School 23-24 June 2023. This camp was established for the Kotas, an ethnic group indigenous to the Nilgiris mountain range in Tamil Nadu, India.

“The first camp was basically to give awareness of cyber-safety and how these pre-university kids can use social media, Internet, and email more safely than before,” said Ramneek Kalra, cloud support engineer at Amazon Web Services, and program lead for the event. “With determination and knowledge obtained from camps like this one, pre-university students can thrive in their new urban environments and build a bright future.”

You Belong in IEEE CS

The You Belong in CS (UBCS) program represents the belief that everyone, regardless of their background, gender, or location deserves an equal opportunity to thrive in the world of computer science and technology. This program consisted of a series of events: a STEM workshop series geared toward high school students in rural Sri Lanka; the Code with Women in Engineering (WIE) 2022 program, a collaboration with the IEEE Sri Lanka Section WIE Affinity Group; and an IEEE Education Week Sri Lanka event including a STEM exhibition and a seminar on higher education pathways.

“UBCS is more than a project; it’s a manifestation of my core values and aspirations,” said project leader Chamika Sudusinghe, a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, IL, USA. “Collaboration has been key; when we collaborate with other organizations that share similar visions and objectives, we have the potential to surpass our targets and create an even more profound positive impact on society.”

Applying Atomic Habits to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Teaching

James Clear’s Atomic Habits surmises that small shifts in daily behavior allow individuals to get 1% better every day. This initiative translated the concept to the classroom environment.

Seeking to create a mentoring circle of faculty and doctoral students who are working toward more inclusive teaching spaces for their students, project lead Akesha Horton, director of curriculum and instruction, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., U.S.A. and her colleague, Nathan Ensmenger, informatics graduate director and associate professor at the university, established a program to help uncover slight changes that can lead to a more inclusive teaching environment. The goals of this work centered on achieving better informed and equipped faculty and future faculty, improving course syllabi and lesson plans, and developing sample lesson plans/case studies that illustrate the techniques and processes required to develop more inclusive course materials.

As a result of two semesters of work—first in a workshop format and then a discussion-circle approach—faculty were able to make concrete changes to their curriculum.

“By focusing on the value of persistent and incremental change, all of our participants were empowered to make at least one change to their course practices and/or syllabus,” said Horton.

These are just 3 examples of the amazing work being made possible thanks to donations to the CS D&I Fund. The next round of CS D&I projects will be announced toward the end of March 2024. Visit the Computer Society Diversity & Inclusion Project & Program Proposals webpages to learn more. 

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