/ Jana Völker
We Are Computer Science - Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Computer Science
The association «We Are Computer Science» was founded by researchers and students from the section of Computer Science of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science to promote diversity and inclusion.
«Although in recent years, the percentage of women graduating from Swiss universities dramatically increased, this growth in numbers is not fully corresponding to the figures in computer science and technology-related fields. According to the latest enrollments in Fall Semester 2020 at the Computer Science Department, out of 290 students in bachelor, master, and doctoral level, 43, 10, and 4 are female, respectively. These numbers indicate a harsh under-representation of females in this field and a sharp drop in pursuing higher levels of education at the university» according to the initiators of the association.
With the founding of the association, the initiators set themselves the goal of encouraging under-represented groups to pursue their interest in computer science, to deepen it, and to further their educational and career goals at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, at the University of Basel and beyond. People of all backgrounds should be able to experience computer science equally as an unbiased and fair space.
«As a woman who did her education in different male-dominated fields such as electrical engineering and computer science, I have met many smart and intelligent girls who had the feeling of being "not enough" as their male peers, and this at some cases led them to leave the academia either after bachelor or master or even not considering these fields from high school. Looking back in time, I see myself facing the same problems: many times, I was not sure if I am smart enough, competent enough, or feeling like an imposter» recalls Mahnaz Parian-Scherb, who founded We Are Computer Science and is currently working on her Ph.D. in the Databases and Information Systems research group. But also, she thinks: «We are Computer Science is here to raise the awareness, that many of us are sharing these experiences and through this awareness, we can help the younger generation to cope with these feelings and not let the stereotypes and clichés decide the path of our lives.». With this association she doesn't just want to address women: «Women are not the only under-represented groups in our domain. That is why, we extended the association objectives to encompass all diverse groups, from gender, sexual orientation, race, etc., providing a network that like-minded students can take the lead and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive society in the Computer Science section of the University of Basel».
New members are welcome at any time - the association sees itself as an association by students for students. Regular meetings allow members to exchange ideas and build a network. By organizing workshops together, they also have the opportunity to deepen and expand their skills. Also, the association regularly hosts exciting talks with international speakers with a background in research and/or business.
The We Are Computer Science association is one of the student associations officially recognized by the University of Basel. Further information and current announcements can be found on the association's website.
The first talk hosted by We Are Computer Science will take place on April 13, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.Prof. Florina Ciorba will speak on the topic "To study or not to study computer science". Further information will follow shortly on the We Are Computer Science website.