Computer Science Diversity Initiatives

Undergraduate Diversity Committee

About the Committee

SEAS undergraduate diversity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives are supported by the Computer Science Diversity committee. It was founded in 2016 and works to increase recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in computing. The work of the committee has been largely funded through a generous grant from Anne Popkin, which was initiated by Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science Radhika Nagpal.

The Computer Science Diversity Committee supports new initiatives as well as funds student travel to conferences such as Grace Hopper and Tapia.

The Committee is chaired by Microsoft Professor of Computer Science Eddie Kohler, and supported by the undergraduate program coordinator for Computer Science, Beth Musser. If you are interested in joining or learning more about the committee, please let us know.

Initiative Examples  

Grace Hopper Conference

Every year, we hear about the impact of this conference on the academic and professional careers of our CS undergraduates. Students continually express gratitude for the experience, which leads to confidence in pursuing a CS concentration at Harvard, tech industry internships, and full-time employment and even academic careers in the field after graduation. Although some students have successfully acquired scholarship funding through industry sponsors, many express gratitude for the opportunity to attend as a Harvard group, which provides a more community-centered experience at this large event. With the conference taking place close to the start of the semester, the peer connections that students make with each other often turn into a larger support network for the rest of the semester and even for the rest of their time at Harvard.

Tapia Conference

Each year, the goal of the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference is to bring together a diverse range of researchers and professionals in computing to celebrate, connect and share best practices, and inspire one another. Starting in 2016, the Tapia Conference changed its timing from spring to fall, which creates an early CS bonding experience for attendees that often continues far beyond the actual conference. Additionally, the timing of the conference is helpful for undergraduates who are searching for summer and full-time opportunities with employers that express a commitment to diversity in their organizations. Students are able to schedule on-site interviews for positions specifically advertised at the conference, while others are able to schedule final round interviews for jobs for which they are already in the application pool.

During this conference, students are able to easily interact with faculty members over group meals at the conference, during informal meals local to the area, or even on the dance floor. 

 

Graduate FLIP Alliance

About the FLIP Alliance

In 2017, Harvard SEAS joined the FLIP Alliance (Diversifying Future Leadership In Professoriate), a multi-university consortium created to increase the diversity of the leadership in Computer Science professoriate. The FLIP Alliance is made up of the institutions which were found to be the largest producers of computer science faculty at research universities:

  • Cornell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Georgia Tech
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • University of Texas
  • University of Washington

 

The work of the FLIP Alliance is funded by an NSF INCLUDES grant and was aimed at launching and demonstrating the effectiveness of strategies focused on recruiting and retaining diverse doctoral students at the FLIP institutions. Each FLIP institution must designate a FLIP Advocate to support all admitted and current CS PhD students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. The FLIP Advocate for Harvard is Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science Radhika Nagpal, and she is supported by the Manager for Advising Programs and Diversity Outreach, Christina Zaldaña. If you are a current Harvard CS PhD student that interested in learning more about the program, please let us know.

Initiative Examples 

Professional Development Opportunities

FLIP institutions are able to offer a variety of professional development opportunities to their PhD students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, who are called the FLIP fellows. These opportunities range from sponsored attendance at the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference each Fall, to sponsored attendance at various PhD summits in collaboration with corporate sponsors such as Microsoft and Google. Additionally, students at each FLIP institution are connected virtually across institutions through social media, as a way of forming a larger network throughout their PhD programs. 

Survey Data Collection

Both FLIP Advocates and FLIP Fellows are surveyed for qualitative and quantitative data to inform the effectiveness of recruitment and retention strategies that are deemed as best practices.