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The Importance of Community Colleges in Diversifying Computing

The Importance of Community Colleges in Diversifying Computing

By Louise Ann Lyon, PhD | February 8, 2018
Senior Research Associate, ETR

Finally! More and more attention is shifting to the fact that community colleges could play a critical role in diversifying computing fields.

The National Science Foundation and Google have given momentum to this movement by funding and hosting a workshop, the “Authentic Inclusion of Community Colleges in Broadening Participation in Computing.” It was held January 30-February 1, 2018, at the Google headquarters. 

(I’ve written about some of these issues in earlier posts. If you’re interested, check here, here and here.)

ETR’s Leadership

ETR Senior Research Scientist Jill Denner has been working on this issue for over five years. Her work has contributed to the recognition of ETR as a leader in research in this area. ETR played a role in the workshop by serving on the steering committee that planned the workshop.

Dr. Denner also presented a summary of research on effective recruitment of underrepresented groups into computing fields.

Great Workshop!

The workshop was divided into four parts. Each focused on promising practices, along with what we currently know, and what we still need to know, about attracting and retaining underrepresented groups in computing in college.

First was a discussion of what “success” means. This was followed by the topic of recruitment, then retention. The next day, the participants built conceptual models of how community colleges could be authentically included in the national discussion about diversifying computing. Each section included speakers focused on research or practice, followed by small group and large group discussions. A report will be forthcoming giving the details of findings from the workshop.

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. Participants noted both that the workshop was well organized and that the discussions were important and inspiring. Participants were eager to return to their institutions and spread the word about what they had learned. What a great start to an important area of expansion for research and interventions!


Louise Ann Lyon, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at ETR. She brings industry experience in the software engineering workplace together with a research background to her focus on diversifying technology at postsecondary institutions and in the workplace. She can be reached at

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