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Deen Freelon presented, “Ethnic/Racial and Gender Inequities in Computational Science,” and shared his observations, industry statistics, and current roadblocks in addressing underrepresentation in the data science field. He contrasted the wide, open-source availability of data science tools with the findings that data science is one of the least diverse tech fields. Research shows that women account for only 15% of data scientists, while Latine individuals make up less than 5%, Black individuals make up less than 4%, and Indigeous individuals make up less than 0.5%. Freelon expanded on the sources of inequality, including unequal K-12 opportunities, lack of mentorship and representation, issues of "culture" or "fit" within companies and research teams, and unfair hiring practices. He elaborated on the relevance of data science to marginalized communities, and the problems that arise when members of those communities are not involved in research projects studying them. Freelon ended his talk by highlighting current resources and suggested solutions for opening more paths for marginalized communities.

Click here to view the talk on YouTube.


Deen Freelon, Associate Professor

Department: Hussman School of Journalism & Media | Faculty Profile

Featured on: February 24, 2022 (Event Page)

Session Title: Tackling Underrepresentation with Data Science (Event Recap

Tools, Information, and Resources:

  • PIEGraph: This tool was developed to study and promote fact-based information consumption practices. It tracks news, political, and media sources that appear in your Twitter feed (your “Personal Information Environment”) and provides a visual representation (a “Graph”) of their political leaning and factual content scores based on ratings from Media Bias/Fact Check.
  • Organizations and groups dedicated to diversifying tech:
    • Black Girls Code: an organization that builds pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology. They offer support in Artificial Intelligence, Game Design, Robotics, Virtual Reality, Mobile and App Design, 3D Printing, Web Design, and Blockchain.
    • Girls Who Code: offers programs to help close the gender gap in tech. Their programs support a wide range of ages from Grade 3 to college and early career professionals.
    • R-Ladies: an organization that promotes gender diversity in the community of users of the R statistical programming language. It is made up of local chapters affiliated with the worldwide coordinating organization R-Ladies Global.
    • PyLadies: an international mentorship group which focuses on helping more women become active participants in the Python open-source community. It is part of the Python Software Foundation.
    • Blacks in Tech: Blacks In Technology is a global platform for black women and men in technology. They offer community, media and mentorship, and provide resources, guidance and challenge members to establish new standards of innovation.