2023 Black History Month – Connection and Belonging in Computing
Kicking off our heritage months as an integral part of IEEE Computer Society’s year of “Connection and Belonging,” we’re thrilled to start with Black History Month in February. As part of our goal to dissolve obstacles within the computing community and enhance diversity and inclusion, our heritage months allow intentional time to learn more about equity-seeking communities.
We’ll continuously update this page weekly throughout the month with new interviews and resources, so make sure to bookmark this page.
What Is Black History Month?
Every February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to highlighting and honoring the breakthroughs and contributions of African Americans. Each Black History month celebrated also carries its own theme, and 2023’s is “Black Resistance.” Despite historical and ongoing oppression, African Americans continue to fight for a dignified self-determined life in the United States while still flourishing and excelling.
Black History Month was established by Carter G. Woodson, an American scholar, and historian, in 1925 and has been celebrated ever since. He chose February as the celebration month in honor of two great Americans who played their unique roles in shaping African American futures — Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Black Excellence in STEM
African Americans have historically been met with significant challenges when working in STEM. While important changes have taken place, there is still more to do. Only 9% of the STEM workforce is African American, and the representation of African Americans with college degrees is lowest across math, physical science, and engineering. Black women make up an even smaller number at 1.8%.
This month, we’ll be posting interviews with prominent computing professionals from the Black community to share their experiences that compel further discussion and expand perspectives. Check back every week for new interviews.
- Dr. Emmanuel Johnson, Computing Innovation Fellow at the University of Southern California
- Dr. Jasmine Berry, Computing Innovation Fellow and Neuro-AI Research Scientist at the University of Michigan
Start by Learning More
Learning more is the first step in building an inclusive computing community. Exploring diverse resources from unique perspectives and hearing firsthand accounts of Black Americans’ experiences help us all receive an accurate, unbiased view of their lives. Here are a few resources to dive into:
Books and Audiobooks
- Data Conscience: Algorithmic Siege on Our Humanity — written by Brandeis Hill Marshall
- Sex, Race, and Robots — an audiobook by Ayanna Howard
- Diversifying STEM: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Race and Gender — edited by Ebony O. McGee and William H. Robinson
- Changing the Face of Engineering: The African American Experience — edited by John Brooks Slaughter, Yu Tao, and Willie Pearson Jr.
- “Language Matters: Abolishing the Harmful and Racist Label ‘Underrepresented Minority’,” lecture by Tiffany L. Williams
- Valuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Our Computing Community, by Timothy Pinkston
- Increasing Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Computing: The Landscape and What You Can Do
YouTube Videos and Podcasts
- “Valuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our Computing Community” — video
- Escape Velocity Podcast — explores Race, Academia, and STEM
- Escape Velocity Podcast, Episode 1 — Conversations with Black Faculty
How To Get Involved: IEEE’s Diversity and Inclusion Fund
We encourage you to get actively involved in highlighting these voices and stories. In 2023, IEEE is committing an additional $400,000 to the Diversity and Inclusion Fund, a highly successful program launched in 2021 that grants programs and activities that impact equity and inclusivity in the computer science community.
To get involved, submit a proposal for a project that promotes diversity, inclusion, and accessibility to learning, STEM, and computing. Accepted projects in 2022 were between $5,000 and $15,000, with some highlights of the IEEE CS Kerala Section, which helped increase literacy in India for women and children.
How do you feel about IEEE’s diversity and inclusion work? Is there something more we should focus on or a new program you’d love to see? Please fill out this anonymous survey to share your ideas for the committee’s activities, events, and actions. Your feedback will directly influence our future road map.
Don’t forget to bookmark this page, as it’ll be updated weekly throughout 2023 Black History Month.