Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month, Coded Bias film screening, and more ...
Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month, Coded Bias film screening, and more ...
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter

Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month

October is LGBTQIA+ History Month! We celebrate that history all month and celebrated National Coming Out Day this past Sunday, October 11. Coming out is complicated—there are many reasons to come out, and many reasons not to. A 2013 survey of STEM workers* found that more than 40% of LGBTQ+ identified respondents working in STEM fields were not out to their colleagues. I hope things have changed since then, and that we can work towards a world and STEM community that feel safe for all of us to bring our whole selves to work and school. For those of you here in CICS who identify as LGBTQIA+ but are not out, and for those of you who are out, know that the CICS Office of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development is here for you.  

I first came out when I was 18, and these days I am generally out in all areas of my life. I identify as queer. The word queer has a complicated history. It’s been used as a slur or derogatory word for many years, but it is a word I have come to love. For me, queer is an expansive word, not just about sexuality, but the way I think about family, romantic partnerships, and social justice. There is a radical element in queerness that reminds me that I must continue to fight for equity—not just against homophobia, but against racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and other forms of oppression that are intertwined.

Queer is a word that calls me to be expansive in how I see the world, and I want to ask you to hear the same call. Recognize that the people you meet in our community don’t have the same experiences that you do—that’s what makes our community beautiful! Be curious, be understanding, be open to other ways of being and living. That makes our community beautiful, too.

In solidarity,
Emma Anderson (she/her)

* Jeremy B. Yoder & Allison Mattheis. (2016) Queer in STEM: Workplace Experiences Reported in a National Survey of LGBTQA Individuals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers. Journal of Homosexuality, 63:1, 1–27
Anna Chang

Student Spotlight: Grace Chang, CS Major

Grace Chang, a sophomore undergraduate student in computer science at CICS, currently serves as an undergraduate course assistant for INFO 101: Introduction to Informatics. Through our office, she was able to attend the REBLS Leadership Academy last summer, which she explains was a good experience to gain insight about leadership and develop negotiation skills. Speaking of her general experience as a woman in CICS, Chang says, “It does feel really daunting to look around a classroom and not see many women, but CICS is doing good with trying to get women in the major.”
Chang also recently attended the Grace Hopper Celebration. She notes that the experience helped her feel inspired and connected with women in the technology community. In fact, the lessons she learned from the celebration led her to apply to become an undergraduate course assistant, noting her newfound mantra, “Just apply and believe in yourself. The worst thing to do to yourself is just not even try.” With her new position, Chang hopes to help others go outside of their comfort zones. "Turn adversity into advantage and don't be your own obstacle,” she advises fellow students. “Don't stop yourself from learning and growing—go for any opportunities that pique your interest."
Dale Osef

Staff Spotlight: Dale Osef

Dale Osef, assistant director of career development at CICS, is responsible for helping students learn networking skills and how to edit their resumes. As a Committee Against Racism and for Equity (CARE) member, Osef works with the Student Source Book subcommittee, which is creating a one-stop online resource center for student success at CICS. These resources are designed to help new students find advisors, develop career opportunities, and learn how to be successful in academics and their social lives.
As a member of the LGBT community, Osef is passionate about promoting diversity in CICS, industry, and the community at large. Currently, he is working on an event to highlight the diversity and support groups that CICS partner employers have. The goal of the event is to help the LGBT student community find and recognize the support available to them once they graduate and enter the computing industry.
Photo: Fleece jacket with sticker reading

Diversity Quick Tips: Pronouns

In a university, we are always meeting new people, and we can't tell which pronouns they use just by their names, appearance, or any assumptions we make about them. Here are some tips for best practices around pronouns.
It's great to normalize sharing pronouns by introducing yourself with your pronouns ("My name is Emma and I use she/her pronouns") or by putting your pronouns in your email signature.
It's also great to ask other people which pronouns they use.
If you make a mistake and use the wrong pronoun for someone (it happens!), use these steps:
  • Apologize briefly and/or thank them for letting you know
  • Correct yourself
  • Move on with the conversation
If you have questions or want to talk about this more, the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development is here for you! Email us at diversity@cs.umass.edu.
The UMass Stonewall Center is encouraging folks to show support for International Pronouns Day on October 21 by including this graphic publicizing the day in their email signatures: 
International Pronouns Day
Tim Richards

Tim Richards: Top 5 Things Faculty Can Do to Make an Inclusive Community

How do you teach a diverse range of students, and ensure you are reaching everyone in the classroom? We asked Tim Richards, senior teaching faculty and director of the CICS undergraduate program, to give us some quick tips:
Make connections. Without connection, everything is lost. When instructors make efforts to connect with students, it has the potential to translate into a sense of belonging. The implicit message is “I see you, I value you as a person, and you belong.” Students who know that their instructors are invested in their learning are more willing to reach out when they need help.
Declare your classroom to be an inclusive place. Consider starting every class by reading out a platform of inclusivity. You would be surprised at how much this matters to students—anecdotal evidence suggests that this small effort goes a long way.
Be flexible with assessments and deadlines. Give students a flexible environment for assessments. If you think an assessment should take X hours, multiply X by 4. Remember, our students have responsibilities beyond our courses and everyone’s circumstances are different. Do not assume they have a quiet workspace without distractions.
Validate your students. Listen to and validate what students are telling you. Be open and willing to talk to any student that crosses your path. Respond to students quickly so they know you are invested in the course and their success.
Assume good intentions. Assume students are putting in the effort and doing the best they can given the skills they have and the situations they are facing. Assuming good intentions just might shift your own perspective, and transition your communication towards a positivity that your students can stand on and be successful!
Banner: Coded Bias, Register Now

Creating an Inclusive Classroom Community for International Students

Explore strategies to create an inclusive classroom community for international students in this workshop with Pamela Shea, a faculty member in the English as a Second Language program. 
Wednesday, October 21, Noon–1:00pm

Suicide Prevention Training

Join us and the UMass Center for Counseling & Psychological Health for a training in suicide prevention. Learn to recognize the warning signs of depression or suicide, and find practical ways to support others and/or yourself.
Friday, October 23, 9:00–11:00am

Ally is a Verb with Robin McHaelen

"In my lifetime, I will only work and engage with straight, cisgender people." If that statement is not true for you, come and join us in an informative and engaging webinar with Robin McHaelen, the founder of True Colors, the largest conference for LGBTQ+ youth in the United States.
Tuesday, October 27, 11:45am–12:45pm

Creating an Inclusive Classroom—Speaker and Topic TBA

Wednesday, October 28, Noon–1:00pm

Film Discussion—Coded Bias

Join us for a conversation about the film Coded Bias, featuring director Shalini Katayaa, CICS Dean Laura Haas, and College of Engineering Dean Sanjay Raman. The film will stream virtually for the UMass community from November 1–7. The film and the discussion require separate registrations—click through for details.
Friday, November 6, 11:30am–1:00pm

SOCS Celebration

We are celebrating Student Organizations in Computer Science! Join us as we give thanks to all the student leaders and organizations of CICS.
Tuesday, November 10, 6:00–7:00pm

Computing & Social Justice Lecture Series: Narges Mayhar

Thursday, November 12, 4:00–5:30pm

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