Building community and brainstorming concrete ways to support D&I in software

Last Thursday, a tweet floated across my timeline with an invitation: On Monday, August 17th, we’re having a virtual workshop on Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion Research. Join us, won’t you?

Following the accompanying link, I found out about the second annual Workshop on Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion (SDDI 2020). With a self-stated goal of “rais[ing] awareness about developer diversity and inclusion challenges faced by industry today” and a public attendee list of software engineering and human-computer interaction researchers I’d heard about and read work from, this seemed like a great opportunity. On top of that, it was free…

Teaching software interface design is hard, but it doesn’t have to be

Right now, we’re training vast numbers of students in higher education computing programs to build software. These students go on to become software engineers and developers, creating software that’s used by a wide range of diverse people. We know that software developers frequently make design decisions that impact the usability, accessibility, and inclusiveness of their software — so it stands to reason that computing students should be equipped with some sort of design training to help them build software that works for everyone.

In today’s higher ed, this kind design training typically happens in one or two courses on human-computer…

That blank page is me as a first year student. [Alt: A palette of watercolor paints and a collection of paintbrushes, next to a sketchbook open to a blank page sitting on a wooden table.] Credit: Pexels, Pixabay.

Design has been on my brain lately. What is design? Where does it happen? How does it happen best? How can we teach others to design well? These are the questions I’ve been considering as I wrap up my first year of graduate school at the UW Information School.

In December I took a step back and tried to think critically about what it takes to become a functional PhD student. I used a learning science model of competence to break down the journey toward competence and highlighted a few of the more salient barriers facing new students. But, of…

418 graduate women in computing learning the skills to change the world #GradCohort2019

So many ribbons, y’all. [Alt: Eight conference badge ribbons of different colors.]

This week, I attended the Computing Research Association’s (@CRAWomen) Grad Cohort for Women in Chicago, IL, USA. The two days of the workshop covered a lot of ground, from advice for first years on how to choose an advisor to strategies for third years thinking about post-degree life.

One of three displays on the wall of Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab showing alternate input devices for gaming, tagged with the phrase “When you do not intentionally, deliberately include… you will unintentionally exclude.” Wise words.

This week, Seattle welcomes the IxDA’s Interaction Week 2019, bringing together interaction design practitioners, researchers, and fangirls to explore the state of the discipline. In collaboration with the University of Washington DUB group, the conference began with the seventh annual Interaction Design Education Summit.

My current research projects explore the role of design skills and principles in introductory computing education, so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to learn about interaction design education from the best in the field. Luckily, the summit was very welcoming to outsiders like myself. I met designers and educators from all over the world in…

Credit: MaxPixel, CC0.

Last week marked the end of my first quarter at the University of Washington’s Information School. After ten weeks, I can confidently say that I have this research thing down. I can quote seminal works at the drop of a hat. Every sentence that falls from my keyboard is publishable. I have transcended time and space and now exist on a dimensional plane of pure scholarship.


Wrong. So very wrong.

Though I have a better idea of what I’m doing now than I did three months ago, it takes a lot of work to be a successful PhD student.

Alannah Oleson

they/them // any pronouns. Inclusive HCI design meets computing education research. PhD Student @UW_iSchool.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store