Welcome Message at 2011 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference

April 4, 2011, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to the 2011 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference.

My name is MAPQ and I am an associate professor in Computer Science at Virginia Tech. According to the Taulbee Survey, I am one of 35 hispanics working as Associate Professor at PhD Granting Institution in the US and Canada. That’s pretty sad.

But I am not here as a token for latinos. I am the Chair of the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC), the committee that organizes this conference. CDC is a coalition of computing volunteers that are seeking to address the underrepresentation that affects our field and our society. CDC is sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the IEEE Computer Society, and the Computing Research Association [the three major professional organizations in our discipline]. We also work very closely with CRA-W to manage a BPC grant from NSF.

But the real reason why we are all here is to Celebrate Diversity. Diversity is at the heart of what drives innovation. Creativity is fueled by different points of views, by people that think differently (pardon me Apple), by thinking outside the box and by intentionally engaging a diverse group of individuals.

Diversity is more than just having the rich ethnic, racial, and gender composition that you see here today. Diversity is having the rich variety of experiences that we all bring together, even when we are hanging out among our closes professional friends in a diverse group such as this one.

I can talk to you about research in diversity for hours until I bore the diversity out of you. But let me just give you a quick example of diversity.

Last night we had a meeting of two of the projects that CDC and CRAW run. The CREU and DREU projects that I mentioned in the opportunities poster usually invites their students to join us at a conference every year. We have done it at SIGCSE (twice) and this past fall at the Grace Hopper Conference. For this year’s students, we picked the Tapia 2011 conference. So, we have close to 30 undergraduate students here with us today. The CREU and DREU crew, say hi to everyboyd… Everybody, go up to them and say hi. They are the future of diversity in our discipline.

I asked them to share with me something unique about them, with credit to Tracy Hammonds from Texas A&M who came up with the idea. Among the things we heard back, are the following:

  • Professor who just received tenure and has performed (singing) at carnegie hall

  • CREU students who are: Lacrosse player, student who knows 3 dead languages (Latin, Greek, and Sanscript), classical musicians, jugglers, amateur photographer, 3 minors, a dancer, and a figure skater.

  • Professor who shook hands with a US President in the Oval Office.

If I asked you, what is common among those people, would you have said Computing?

If I asked you, what brings them together at a conference, would you have said Diversity.

And that’s the beauty of diversity. It goes beyond our surface characteristics, it goes beyond the color of our skin or the sound of our accents, it goes beyond whether we pray or not, or how we do our hair (those of us that have any left). Diversity is deeply inside all of us.

So, lets celebrate diversity every day of our lives.

I hope you have a great time at this conference.

Thank you.

Posted on 04/07/2011



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