Applying a Transformative Justice Approach to Encourage the Participation of Black and Latina Girls in Computing

Sheena Erete, Karla Thomas, Denise Nacu, Jessa Dickinson, Naomi Thompson, Nichole Pinkard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Global protests and civil unrest in 2020 has renewed the world's interest in addressing injustice due to structural racism and oppression toward Black and Latinx people in all aspects of society, including computing. In this article, we argue that to address and repair the harm created by institutions, policies, and practices that have systematically excluded Black and Latina girls from computer science, an intersectional, transformative justice approach must be taken. Leveraging testimonial authority, we share our past 8 years of experience designing, implementing, and studying Digital Youth Divas, a programmatic and systemic approach to encouraging middle school Black and Latina girls to participate in STEM. Specifically, we propose three principles to counter structural racism and oppression embedded in society and computing education: computing education must (1) address local histories of injustice by engaging community members; (2) counter negative stereotypes perpetuated in computer science by creating inclusive safe spaces and counter-narratives; and (3) build sustainable, computational capacity in communities. To illustrate each principle, we provide specific examples of the harm created by racist policies and systems and their effect on a specific community. We then describe our attempt to create counter structures and the subsequent outcomes for the girls, their families, and the community. This work contributes a framework for STEM and computing educators to integrate transformative justice as a method of repairing the harm that both society and the field of computing has and continues to cause Black and Latinx communities. We charge policy makers, educators, researchers, and community leaders to examine histories of oppression in their communities and to adopt holistic, transformative approaches that counter structural oppression at the individual and system level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
JournalACM Transactions on Computing Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Black
  • Latina
  • STEM
  • computing
  • girls
  • intersectionality
  • transformative justice
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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