Lesson Wednesday

Epicodus is committed to increasing diversity in the tech industry. That means serving students from underrepresented communities and also doing everything we can to increase the representation of these communities in the tech community. This includes BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color), women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations.

As part of our effort towards building a more diverse tech industry, our curriculum includes DEI topics that will be discussed at standups. DEI is short for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We will cover these terms (and many more) throughout the program. We'll also briefly cover these terms here:

  • Diversity: Traditionally, the tech industry has skewed heavily white and male. Bringing diversity to the tech industry means hiring and retaining people of color, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations. These groups also leave tech jobs at a much higher rate than white men, and diversity means addressing this higher attrition rate as well.

  • Equity: To define equity, we also have to think about equality. Equality is about treating everyone equally regardless of their background. Equity, on the other hand, means recognizing that everyone's background is different. For example, Epicodus used to have a technical assessment for its applicants. While this approach treated students equally, students who didn't grow up with access to technology were less likely to be able to pass that assessment. So we added the Introduction to Programming course to make our program more equitable for students with less of a technical background.

  • Inclusion: In order to diversify the tech industry, we need to be inclusive. While diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make us different from one another, inclusion refers to the actions we take to make others feel welcome.

If these definitions seem a bit vague right now, that's okay. We'll be covering them more in depth throughout the course.

As part of your homework during weeks that have DEI curriculum, there will be a short lesson to read for homework on a DEI topic. Then, in the next standup, your instructors will lead a discussion on that topic. For full-time students, homework will be given on Monday night and the discussion will happen during Tuesday standup. For part-time students, homework will be given on Wednesday night and the discussion will happen the following Sunday during standup.

Throughout the first third of the program, we'll have one to two DEI lessons per week as well as weekly DEI discussions in standup. By focusing on DEI early in the program, our goal is to set the tone from day one - and throughout the program - that our Epicodus community prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, we have seen many situations where students from diverse backgrounds are marginalized, whether that's at Epicodus, in the tech industry, or elsewhere. By actively learning about DEI concepts, we can better work together to include students from all backgrounds. Students sometimes ask why we have DEI standups but not code walkthroughs doing standup. Well, we spend all day coding and collaborating with our peers and instructors on coding problems. Having regular DEI standups gives us an opportunity to shift the focus away from coding and onto working together on important DEI issues. Ultimately, our highest priority, even beyond teaching students to code, is to create a safe space for our students and be good stewards in the tech industry.

Unfortunately, sometimes students question the value of DEI curriculum because they feel like it doesn't directly relate to them. However, remember that we can always do more to be inclusive - and even if a student feels included, that doesn't mean that other students do. We've also received a great deal of feedback from students that found the DEI curriculum beneficial. Here is some of the feedback we've received in the past:

"The DEI talks are so important! Thank you for doing these."

"I really appreciate the DEI talks."

"I appreciate the instructors taking the time to appreciate diversity."

"Thank you so much for all you do in the classroom to make it feel inclusive."

"I find it very reassuring that your aim is to make your space inclusive and welcoming."

Lesson 13 of 13
Last updated May 21, 2021