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Illinois CS Equity & Justice in Computing Conversation: Kyla McMullen & Colleen Lewis, "Recognizing and Responding to Bias and Microaggressions"

Event Type
Professional Development
The Department of Computer Science
Nov 18, 2020   5:00 pm  

Recording available to view at: 



Have you ever frozen - not knowing what to say - when you heard a comment or question about diversity in CS?  We will play a research-based game to practice recognizing and responding to bias. The game invites players to respond to challenging scenarios related to subtle and not-so-subtle bias. For example, what might you say if your colleague said, “Women just don’t like CS” or “There are so few Black and Latinx students in CS, it is a lot easier for them to get CS jobs.”  We’re all responsible for learning to recognize and respond to bias - and the game can provide opportunities to practice! We’ll use breakout rooms to have players discuss how they would respond and you can access a copy of the game at 



Kyla McMullen is currently a tenure-track faculty member in the University of Florida’s Computer & Information Sciences & Engineering Department. Dr. McMullen earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was also a Meyerhoff Scholar.  She earned her Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. While earning her Ph.D. she was also a faculty member at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. McMullen has a personal commitment to encouraging women and minorities to pursue careers in computing and other STEM fields. She has created online lists that showcase hundreds of exceptional young African Americans who excel in STEM fields and don’t fit the typical “scientist” stereotype. Dr. McMullen is also senior personnel for NSF’s Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS) effort to broaden participation in the field of computing. In this role, she has served 4 years as the conference chair for the National Society of Blacks in Computing. In addition, Dr. McMullen co-hosts Modern Figures Podcast, elevating the voices of Black women in computing.

Dr. McMullen’s research interests are in the perception, applications, and development of 3D audio technologies. In this line of research, sounds are digitally filtered such that when they are played over headphones, the listener perceives the sound as being emitted from a specific location in their own physical space. She has recently earned the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award to further support her research in this area. She is also the PI of an NSF S-STEM award to augment the financial load of graduate school for PhD students.


Colleen Lewis is an Assistant Professor of computer science (CS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Lewis was previously the McGregor-Girand Associate Professor of CS at  Harvey Mudd College. She is teaching faculty at the USC Race and Equity Center, which provides training to University leaders. Her research seeks to identify and remove barriers to CS learning and understand and optimize CS learning. Lewis curates, a NSF-sponsored project for disseminating effective CS teaching practices. Lewis has received the Undergraduate Mentoring Award and the Emerging Leader Award for her efforts to broaden participation in computing. 


Faculty Host: Nancy Amato

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