We are proud to announce that The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Computer Science has been named an affiliate school of the BRAID diversity program.
BRAID stands for ‘Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity’, and is co-led by US-based social enterprise AnitaB.org and Harvey Mudd College in California.
The initiative brings together universities that are committed to increasing diversity in computer science programs. BRAID welcomes a small number of universities to the Affiliate program each year, and ANU has been accepted for 2020.
Research School of Computer Science Senior Lecturer Dr Penny Kyburz led the efforts to submit the successful application for ANU.
“We are extremely excited to be part of the program this year. We look forward to working cooperatively with other institutions to learn and share about best practice in increasing diversity in computer science,” she said.
Dr Kyburz believes one of the great advantages of BRAID is the opportunity to learn from other universities.
“It’s about bringing together institutions to share wisdom, experience, best practice, and working collectively to address what is a societal problem.
“Different universities have tried initiatives with varying levels of success, and we have a great opportunity to learn from each other. These are really hard problems that we are addressing, and sharing with each other goes a long way to finding solutions,” she said.
Comparatively, ANU is doing well in terms of diversity in computer science, with around 25 per cent female undergraduate students. However, overall, women are still less likely to enrol in computer science than men and more likely to leave their studies early.
Building and strengthening a diverse community is a key pillar of the University’s Reimagine strategic investment.
Research School of Computer Science Director, Professor Tony Hosking, will represent the ANU at the virtual BRAID Summit this July. The event will see the leadership of affiliate computer science and information technology departments discuss the challenges and opportunities to increase diversity in our student populations.
“We want to see equal numbers of men and women in our programs, as we need a diverse set of people developing our technologies of the future. We don’t want women to be left behind. Our future societies and industries will be better for their participation and contributions,” said Dr Kyburz.
Dr Kyburz is a passionate advocate for diversity in computing and information technology. She is also working in collaboration with other Australian universities to investigate the impact of the undergraduate experience on the retention of women in computing. The team has recently received funding from the Australian Council of Deans of ICT Learning and Teaching Academy (ALTA).
She hopes that the ALTA grant and BRAID affiliation will help build on the momentum happening in Australia and support discussions to establish an Australian BRAID network and Summit.
Dr Kyburz was also instrumental in establishing a Gender Equity in Engineering & Computer Science (GEECS) network and support system at ANU.
To find out more about diversity and inclusion at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, check out our blog: Diversity bits and bytes: community and culture in CECS.