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SCS DEI Update

Jul. 8, 2021

What Dimensions of DEI Are Often Forgotten?

Socioeconomic status (SES) is a characterization derived from a combination of education, income and occupation, and can negatively impact student well-being, academic performance and achievement of career goals. Low-SES students can experience difficult transitions to college, may approach studying differently and have a more limited repertoire of learning strategies. Workers who come from lower SES in the United States are 32% less likely to become managers than those who come from higher social-class origins.

It is clear that root causes of inequity are increasingly related to social class. Low SES is a systemic disadvantage that is often overlooked in current definitions of DEI. More analysis is needed to understand how to best move forward in leveling these inequities.

By attending to social class disadvantage, we can reinforce our efforts to combat other forms of disadvantage. In SCS we will:

  • Add social class to diversity goals.
  • Make sure those who identify as lower SES are presented with pathways to success and know how to make the most of them.
  • Build a cohesive organizational structure that takes into account the needs of low SES individuals.

To do so, we will need to continue to create active and inclusive activities that enable multiple modes of engagement, create various pathways for achievement, and create supportive environments with accessible mentors and resources. We may also need to provide an understanding of the cultural norms that will help people when they encounter unfamiliar situations.

Here are some example scenarios to think about:

  • Rather than holding office hour meetings, which low SES individuals often avoid, a professor requires one-on-one meetings with each student to discuss learning progress and to provide strategies for success.
  • Instead of assuming students will succeed in a course, an instructor establishes clear class-participation norms, states explicit assessment expectations and provides recommended resources/steps to improve performance.
  • An instructor allows for several rounds of code resubmissions so that students can focus on developing their coding skills.


Carnegie Mellon hosts a series of programs to support student success and inclusion. Learn more about:


The Girls of Steel won FIRSTChairman’s Award, the most prestigious award at FIRST. It honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST.

Attend the University of Pittsburgh's 2021 Diversity Forum, July 26-29. The aim of the 2021 Diversity Forum, "Dismantling Oppressive Systems: Building Just Communities," is to engage and equip participants with the knowledge, skills and resources to identify sources of systemic oppression; consider strategies for dismantling that oppression; and explore the actions critical in fostering more equitable and just communities where we live, work and learn. There is no cost to attend and there is still time to submit a poster.

What We’re Doing

  • The DEI Internal Team is planning activities to support first-year and second-year student orientation, which will feature a diversity day on Tuesday, Aug. 24. We will need community volunteers, so let us know if you are interested.
  • The DEI Internal Team is making our conference outreach plan for the 21-22 academic year. This will be a combination of remote sessions and some in-person conference attendance. Stay tuned for more information.