Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
A color graphic showing the logos for the Richard Tapia and Grace Hopper Conferences


Students find support and opportunity at conferences aimed to increase diversity and inclusion in tech

November 15, 2023

In the world of technology, it's a common experience for those who identify with underrepresented groups to find themselves in a room where they stand out. To rewrite the narrative, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science led delegations comprising more than 150 students, faculty, and staff to two conferences this semester. 

The trips were all-expenses paid for Cornell Bowers CIS students, thanks to the college’s Office of DEI and the Hopper-Dean Foundation, with additional student sponsorships from Cornell Tech, and the departments of computer science and information science.    

“Computing plays a critical role in many problems and opportunities in modern society, and we need broad participation in the computing disciplines to take advantage of the opportunities and to fully understand where there are problems,” said David Bindel, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Cornell Bowers CIS. “The Grace Hopper Conference and the Tapia Celebration give our students and our field an opportunity to celebrate what a diverse computing profession has to offer.”

Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference

The Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference is an annual celebration of the diversity present in the field of computing. Held this year from September 13 through September 16 in Dallas, it provided undergraduate and graduate students in computer and information science with a unique opportunity to connect with peers who share similar  identities and passion for computer science and technology. It also allowed them to explore potential career paths in either industry or academia.

The delegation included 5 faculty, 30 undergraduate, 10 graduate students, and 8 staff members, with student registration and travel costs covered.

"TAPIA Conference was a validating experience, and it was great to come together with colleagues working on a range of future-looking topics in technology motivated by enabling accessibility,” said Pelinsu Çiftçioğlu, doctoral student in the field of information science. “When celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion in technology it is crucial to remind ourselves that technology is for people and thus should be designed and executed with empathy for all people."

At the Tapia conference, participants engaged in discussions on various topics, such as bias in machine learning models, designing accessible technology for individuals with disabilities, increasing diversity in the tech workforce, and fostering an inclusive culture within computing. Presenters, hailing from both academia and industry, shared their personal challenges in navigating a career in computer science as underrepresented minorities.

"My experience at TAPIA, representing Cornell at our booth and engaging with students nationwide interested in our graduate programs, was outstanding,” said Cazamere Comrie, doctoral student in the field of computer science. “As a Ph.D. student, the conference helped me connect with researchers in both academia and industry, and I'm proud to be a member of this expanding community of underrepresented individuals in computing."

Grace Hopper Conference

One hundred  students, faculty, and staff from Cornell Bowers CIS made the trek to Orlando, Fla., for the Grace Hopper Conference, held September 26 through 29. Named in honor of the pioneering mathematician and computer scientist, the annual conference elevates women innovators and promotes  a future where those  who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for whom they build it.

Held over four days, thousands of students attended more than 200 conference sessions and workshops from influential women leaders across sectors – from technology, business, and government to entertainment and sports. 

Additional funding to attend the conference was provided by the Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC) student group.