05 April 2022
Reflections on Diversity and Inclusion at the Plymouth Festival
A few weeks ago I attended the Plymouth Festival of Computing. My first in-person event in over two years. I took away a lot around the theme of Diversity and Inclusion. The opening keynote speaker Carly Britton started by walking us through an exercise where we closed our eyes and had to think of the images that came to mind when she gave different scenarios, this was to illustrate our own unconscious biases.
Then she spoke about Disney’s Encanto and the Luisa Madrigal character who is female and lifts weights. Disney had not anticipated that so many people would connect with the character. The dolls of this character sold out very quickly as opposed to the “traditional” thin pretty doll. This made me reflect, I have always enjoyed lifting weights and have lost count of the number of times in my life, when I have heard, “If you keep doing that you will become a man”. I am pleased to say in 32 years of gym going this event has not happened to me! This is a societal bias that exists in relation to women that lift weights.
Half way through the keynote, I became aware that I was not just listening but was also reading the keynote. It had been subtitled. This made me think of how many presentations I have listened to and watched that missed this small but big inclusive feature. I highly recommend that everyone presenting to all audiences ensures that they are subtitled. It is certainly something that I will be working to incorporate into my own presentations.
Later in the day, I had the pleasure of co-running a D&I workshop along with CAS members Jacqui Hanton and Matthew Thorpe on embedding D&I into curriculum planning. We focussed on role modelling and activities. I took the lead on making the case for D&I and recommend this link for the business case - https://www.raeng.org.uk/diversity-in-engineering/business-benefits-key-facts
Then I talked about:
“Algorithmic bias in datasets” and illustrated this through the Netflix documentary “Coded Bias” You can watch a trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZl55PsfZJQ
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and how this helps learners to find their place in the world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uGV5Yzi0MQ&t=4s
The work of CAS Member William Lau which looks at “BAME pioneers in tech” https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1b3xGKssTipPqke9zeqyS3cTwurn81TZT
However, it is worth noting that in the recent controversial “Sewell report” BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) has been discontinued and we should be using the terms ethnic minorities or minority groups. I guess the conversation on this point continues!
I then briefly touched on LGBTQ+ role models in tech and shared a resource from the Liverpool Museums - https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/stories/lgbt-people-stem alongside mention of people like Alan Turing and Lyn Conway
I then introduced the excellent work of the CAS Include Working group and working group member Jacqui posed a question around SEND role models to attendees. None of us were able to identify SEND role models. Jacqui shared two with us - Tajiri Satoshi - Pokemon Game Designer and Brandon Weaver – Tales of an Autistic Developer. Jacqui also shared resource consideration tips when working with SEND learners.
Then Matthew, spoke about the excellent work being done at the Manchester Metropolitan University with in service trainee teachers, sharing some of the resources created by the teachers - https://decolonizationandinclusion.blogspot.com
Matthew also has a blog on this topic here - https://www.computingatschool.org.uk/teaching-resources/2022/april/tackling-diversity-and-inclusion-as-part-of-a-national-computing-curriculum
I hope you have enjoyed this whistle stop tour. I invite you to share your top calendar dates to celebrate D&I across educational settings and also what your school, college or university does to foster a fully diverse and inclusive environment for both learners and staff.