Feds Spend $99,078 for Workshops on ‘Intersectionality’ and Computing

Workshops bring together ‘thought leaders’ to get more women into STEM

March 8, 2017

The National Science Foundation has spent roughly $100,000 for workshops on "intersectionality" and computing.

The workshops, run by Howard University, bring together "thought leaders" to discuss how to get more African-American women into STEM.

"Broadening participation in all of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields as well as in computing, which is critical to all of the STEM fields, is a national challenge," a grant for the workshop states. "Achieving gender equity in computing is one of the more pressing challenges in the broadening participation effort because of the precipitous decline in the proportion of women earning degrees in computing over the last 20 years."

The workshops seek to "address the lack of awareness and action around [the] intersectionality" of race and gender in computer sciences.

"This workshop will bring together thought leaders to share experiences in an effort to understand the issues faced by black women in computing," the grant states. "Black women, as a group, face acute underrepresentation in computing. Their challenges rest at the intersection of race and gender in the larger broadening participation effort."

The goals of the project are to "explore the intersectional experiences (race and gender) of black women" in computing, and to "formulate strategies and a plan of action to address the lack of awareness and action around this intersectionality."

Two grants for the workshops have been awarded. One grant, awarded in January 2016, was worth $49,228. The other, worth $49,850, was awarded last fall.

The first intersectionality workshop, held at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency, focused on "An Inclusive Agenda for Computing."

The workshop explored the lack of "shared learning experiences" for black women in computer departments because not very many enroll in computer science programs.

"It is important to unpack the differences that distinguish black women's experiences from other groups so that we might better support—and, by extension, increase the participation of—this unique group," according to an agenda for the workshop.

The agenda also noted the funding from the National Science Foundation and stated that "any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the materials created for this convening are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views" of the government.