The opportunity to go abroad to study is quite the tempting one. After all, who doesn’t want to make new friends, maybe learn a new language, and make some unforgettable memories? And while going abroad to study brings a lot of benefits, there are a good amount of unforeseen challenges that come from studying in a new place. What if the new place’s dress code is completely different? Or their way of greeting each other is extremely informal to you? These might seem minor, but when you add up a whole bunch of cultural differences, it can create quite the challenge.
That’s why we’ve created this guide: we want to give you the necessary tips and tricks to embracing diversity in your global and international classroom, permitting you to take full advantage of said diversity–while being respectful.
The Different Kinds of Diversity You May Encounter
When you hear the word “diversity,” you may think uniquely of racial or ethnic diversity–and with good reason; it’s one of the most frequent reasons we use the word diversity. But the truth is that diversity can come in many different forms and all can have an effect on the way we act and, of course, our classroom. Let’s check out the seven main kinds of diversity:
Cultural diversity: cultural diversity is quite common and refers to the ethnicity of people and the customs/norms they’ve learned from their specific culture, which affect how they act and can differ significantly from other cultures.
Racial diversity: racial diversity is based on physical traits and is one of the most highlighted kinds of diversity because it’s something that can be noticed by sight.
Religious diversity: religious diversity refers to both religious beliefs and the lack thereof.
Age diversity: age diversity includes both people of different ages and generations.
Gender diversity: gender diversity includes both differences between male and female employees, and also employees that are trans, non-binary, or have a changing gender identity.
Sexual orientation diversity: frequently conflated with gender diversity, sexual orientation is completely different, and refers to the sexual orientation of people, not their gender identity.
Disability diversity: disability diversity refers to people with all kinds of disability, such as physical, mental, visual, or hearing.
The general understanding when it comes to diversity is that it is something that should be celebrated; however, that’s easier said than done. Finding a way to mesh all sorts of different students into one classroom where people of different cultural backgrounds, ages, or disabilities can learn in the same way is nearly impossible. But creating a welcoming and diverse classroom in tech, however, is doable.
Why is diversity important?
No matter where you grew up or your personal experiences, we’re sure you had a moment where you realized that someone else has had a completely different experience than you. And this is precisely why diversity is so important, especially in the classroom:
Diversity contributes to better decision-making: if you’re just thinking about things from your perspective, you’re probably going to miss including the perspective of other groups that could be valuable customers for your company.
Diversity improves individual and personal growth, pushing people to think about things in new ways and further develop their empathy.
Diversity improves overall performance–yes, research shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse groups, thanks to their ability to use more varied experiences and skills to reach their goals.
Diversity helps companies create services that meet the needs of diverse communities, therefore better serving the public and expanding their customers.
We could go on and on but here’s the key: diversity, especially in the classroom, is absolutely essential. Let’s dive right into creating space for and encouraging diversity in the classroom and how we can use diversity to enhance learning.
Diversity in the Classroom
As you know, working towards creating a diverse classroom can yield lots of benefits for all students--but how can you do it as both an educator or a student? Follow these steps:
Take the time to get to know all students: as we mentioned above, some kinds of diversity are visible to the naked eye, but others aren’t. To ensure that all students are being heard and their needs are met, taking the time to talk to and understand where each student comes from can help you interact and bond with them later on. As students begin to feel that they’re in a safe and comfortable environment, they’ll be more likely to share their personal experiences, enriching the overall classroom.
Maintain your connections throughout the entire course/semester: part of creating a welcoming and inviting space is ensuring that students feel that they are valued because of who they are, not because of what makes them different. If you only engage with diverse students when it’s needed for a lesson or to get something out of them, or worse, to tokenize them, it will have the opposite effect. Remember to respect people’s differences and appreciate them, without making this diversity the entire identity of this person.
Set clear guidelines for the classroom: both instructors and students can take the initiative to set rules for the semester, establishing ground rules about what kind of language/treatment isn’t acceptable and having a zero tolerance policy for any sort of hostility.
Ensure that people’s diversities are taken into account: if you have people with physical diversities, try to limit the amount of movement you require in classes; if you have people who are speaking their second language, make sure you talk clearly and offer any extra assistance if needed. Creating inclusive and safe environments means taking people’s diversities into account before class to ensure that there are no issues.
If you follow these steps, creating an inclusive and safe classroom is totally possible. And thankfully, tech is becoming one of the most diverse sectors, meaning your students will benefit from diverse classrooms when they work in diverse tech companies.
Diversity in Tech
Tech companies need diverse teams and there’s simply no argument against it. In order to create products and services that truly serve the public, diverse voices have to have a seat at the table. An added focus on diversity in the technology sector will lead to:
Better products and services: we’re not saying men can never create well-working products for women, but it’s true that products and services designed by the people who will be using them will reflect the true needs of that group.
Expanded candidate pools: companies that require candidates to live in expensive cities or have certain degrees eliminate entire groups of people right off the back; by introducing inclusive practices into their hiring process, companies can open their doors up to so many candidates that had been previously ignored.
Better problem-solving abilities: have you ever been completely stumped over a problem, only to ask a colleague and friend and be presented with a great solution? Well, this happens frequently and it’s actually pretty normal. In fact, teams with diverse members are more likely to overcome challenges and have better overall performances.
Alright, we’ve convinced you: guaranteeing diversity in tech is definitely necessary. And there’s no better way to encourage diversity in tech than with bootcamps. Don’t believe us? Here’s what you need to know.
Bootcamps & Diversity
A huge barrier to reaching full inclusion and diversity in the tech sector is access. For a long time, tech roles were exclusively for those who had advanced degrees in tech fields, could complete internships, and lived in expensive cities. This severely limited the groups of people that could get into the field; today, however, the introduction of bootcamps has led to an entirely new group of people with access to the field.
Here’s what bootcamps offer everyone:
Financing options: bootcamps are much more affordable than long, four year degrees, not to mention some even allow you to study part-time and keep your current job. And for the cost that it does entail, lots offer financing options such as scholarships, government grants, income share agreements, and payment plans.
Flexible schedules: lots of people, especially parents, have at-home responsibilities such as childcare or familial duties, which might limit their abilities to attend a long program during the day. However, lots of bootcamps are offered remotely and part-time, giving people the option to fit in classes around their preexisting responsibilities.
Career services: bootcamps are designed with one cause in mind: landing you a job as soon as possible following graduation. The vast majority of bootcamps offer career services, which can help you finetune your interviewing skills, work on your applications, and edit your CV.
Updated and accurate curriculum: bootcamps don’t exist to waste your time; they exist to teach you exactly what you need to know to succeed in your chosen field. That’s why they’re so intensive and short–your curriculum is constantly updated and refreshed to ensure you’re studying exactly what hiring managers are looking for.
The tech industry has started to even out in recent years, thanks in part to the introduction of bootcamps and an enthused effort to prioritize diversity and inclusion efforts across the board. But there’s still a lot to be done and the change begins with each and every one of us. Are you up for the challenge? Then we’ll see you in class.