Episode 16 – Holding Space and Interrogating Privilege

Hosts: Dr. Jeremy Waisome & Dr. Kyla McMullen

Guest: Dr. Colleen Lewis

LinkedIn – Dr. Colleen Lewis

Twitter – @CSTeachingTips

Web – CSTeachingTips.org


 Dr. Colleen Lewis is our favorite ally for underrepresented populations in computing. Though she is a white female, we felt it was important to bring her on to the podcast to showcase how she has leveraged her privilege to dismantle racist systems and structures to improve the experiences of others. In other words, she’s BEEN at the cookout, and now she’s on our podcast. Her work is at the intersection of computing and education, where she focuses on issues related to gender and diversity. You can often find Dr. Lewis at conferences presenting a workshop to help educators recognize and respond to bias through research-based scenarios, or as we refer to it: “Microaggressions – The Game.” This episode is filled with gems around effective strategies for feeling included if you don’t fit within the normative depiction of a computer scientist. There’s also a sweet segment about her friend named Irene, who introduced her to the world of computing. Our takeaway from this episode: get yourself an Irene! Or better yet, a Colleen.


Hi, I’m Colleen Lewis, and I’m humbled to get to participate in the Modern Figures Podcast! In my conversation with Dr. McMullen and Dr. Waisome, I shared some of my experiences in college that suggested I was “not cut out for CS.” People might not have expected that I’d eventually become the McGregor-Girand Associate Professor of computer science at Harvey Mudd College. Learning takes time, and the bumps in my educational journey were evidence I hadn’t learned the CS concepts yet, but not that I would never learn them. My research seeks to identify effective teaching practices for creating equitable learning spaces where all students have the opportunity to learn. I curate CSTeachingTips.org, a NSF-sponsored project for disseminating effective computer science teaching practices. I’ve worked with Dr. Kyla McMullen to help computer scientists learn to recognize and respond to microaggressions and other biased statements. When a microaggression targets one of our identities, we might choose to ignore it and prioritize self-care. For example, as a White woman, I don’t always have the energy to respond to sexism, but I think it is my responsibility to challenge racism.

1 comment on “Holding Space and Interrogating Privilege – Episode 016
  1. Emma Rose says:

    Yeah man, it is a really nice podcast. with great sound quality

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