As leaders in the field of Computer Science, we, the Computer Science Department (CSD) at Carnegie Mellon University, recognize our responsibility in shaping technology and our community in ways that foster diversity, equity and inclusion.
Sadly, our community has historically fallen short off these aspects. Our community has seen disproportionately low representation from Black and indigenous people, and people of color, particularly in the School of Computer Science (Open letter: “Toward Anti-Racist Change in the School of Computer Science,” 2020).
Recently-published research by scholars of African American Studies has shown that uncritical conceptions of race pervade computer science (Benjamin 2020, Noble 2019). Widely-deployed algorithms in the U.S. exhibit systemic racial and gender bias, particularly in ways that disproportionately harm Black people (Obermeyer 2019, Petty 2020, Stark 2019). Moreover, even though SCS’ efforts to improve gender balance at the undergraduate level have resulted in incoming undergraduate classes of more than 50% women*, gender ratios at the graduate student and faculty level remain imbalanced.
To combat these imbalances, the Computer Science Department formed its own committee for DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in August 2020. Since then, the committee has been pursuing the dual goals of increasing the diversity of our community, and improving our community's awareness and support for the existing diversity within our community. The committee coordinates with other existing efforts within the School of Computer Science, such as SCS4All, the SCS Dean's PhD Advisory Committee, and Tech4Society.
Our department also recognizes the urgency of eliminating systemic racism and sexism in the field of computing. We urge members of the discipline, across academia, industry, and public service, to join us in taking bold, sustained action. Eliminating systemic racism and sexism is difficult, and we expect that our goals and resources, as a department, will evolve in conversation with members of our wider community.
We commit to giving annual updates to our community about the progress and effectiveness of our efforts beginning with a Summary of 2020-2021 Activities and Milestones
We welcome any suggestions at email@example.com.
* Undergraduate admissions are handled at the university level, not by the Computer Science Department: CMU CS Undergraduate Admissions policy
- Ruha Benjamin, Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, Polity Press (2019)
- Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, NYU Press (2018)
- Obermeyer et al., Dissecting racial bias in an algorithm used to manage the health of populations Science Magazine (2019)
- Tawana Petty, Defending Black Lives Means Banning Facial Recognition Wired (2020)
- Luke Stark Facial recognition is the plutonium of AI ACM Crossroads (2019)