Written by Michelle Chen, a current Masters of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) student, focused in UX design and research
During the final panel of the Towards Inclusive Tech conference at UC Berkeley, I asked the following question:
“Should graduate school programs provide training for their students and/or equip them with the knowledge and encouragement to advocate for diversity and inclusion, before students to go into the workforce?”
The answer was overwhelmingly yes — of course they should. However, the logistics for carrying out this education has been unclear; who should provide it and what should it involve? Should all students be required to take the training? Therefore, a few current students and I decided to do what we can to take matters into our own hands.
This is when the idea for Design Workshop: Designing for Inclusivity was born. As IMSA’s (Information Management Student Association) design chair, I was already planning to organize more opportunities for learning and engaging with design outside of the classroom. At the same time, another first-year MIMS student, Michelle Peretz, had attended a design sprint and was inspired to do something similar at the I School. We discussed the idea of hosting a design workshop of some kind, and ended up combining the two ideas of a design workshop and diversity and inclusion (D&I) in tech.
We connected with MIMS 2012 alum Christen Penny, a Design Educator Manager at Workday who has organized and facilitated countless design thinking sessions in her line of work. With her onboard, we designed a day long event that followed the double diamond design process:
- understand the issues,
- define one problem,
- explore possible solutions,
- create a possible outcome.
The design challenge for the day was to identify and address an issue around diversity and inclusion in tech.
On the day of the event, it was amazing to see students dedicating their Saturday for this endeavor. The day was introduced with a brief overview of the design process and challenge, and then we discussed the difference between diversity and inclusion together before getting to the invited speakers. First up was Haas PhD candidate Sanaz Mobassari, who furthered our knowledge by speaking on implicit biases, and how they give rise to D&I issues in general.
The workshop wouldn’t have been successful without fully understanding the problems that people encounter. Moderated by current PhD student Elizabeth Resor, our wonderful alumni panelists Emily Paul, Ricky Holtz, Hasnain Nazar, and Kim Norlen helped us with this by talking about their knowledge and personal experiences on this topic. They shared stories about mentorship, finding allies, having difficult conversations and confrontations, accessing job opportunities, and more. Additionally, they addressed thoughtful questions brought on by the student audience.
They shared stories about mentorship, finding allies, having difficult conversations and confrontations, accessing job opportunities, and more.
During the design part of the day, Christen guided us gracefully through the difficult challenge we put upon ourselves. We broke up into 3 teams, and did affinity diagramming to transfer our thoughts and insights from the talk and panel into a problem statement, and then brainstormed ideas using the Crazy 8’s method. The end result was a storyboard that walked through one potential solution.
We ended the day with sharing our storyboards. Interestingly, all 3 teams ended up focusing on different diversity and inclusion problems in tech:
- “Outsiders” without a referral network trying to get a job in tech
- Finding a mentor and developing that relationship
- Relieving exhaustion for people who experience inequality-related incidences
First-year MIMS student Ching-Yi Lin shares her team’s idea for a mentorship network app:
“Based on the talks, our team designed a mentorship network app that aims to form a momentum for ‘mentoring a mentor to be a mentor,’ so that prospective mentors can find the mentees easily, and they can also find their own mentor to learn how to be a mentor. The workshop inspired me to continue working on this idea for one of my final class projects.”
Overall, it was an exciting and successful event that brought out so much potential in addressing D&I (diversity and inclusion) issues in tech, in addition to learning more about design thinking. I was amazed by how many people spent an entire day to engaging with these issues as a collective, and I’m inspired by everyone’s determination to address D&I in tech. I am excited to see what happens in the future as we continue the work we started.