Black in Robotics is a new international organization formed to increase the presence of Black and under-represented minorities in robotics by actively building community, advocating for diversity, and encouraging accountability.
Please visit the Black in Robotics website to join as a BiR Member or as a BiR Ally (no fees) and for more information about events, Chapters, Corporate Sponsorship, Speakers Bureau, Reading List, and Latest News.
Community. Building community through networking and mentorship is a first step to increasing the presence of Black and under-represented minorities in the field of robotics. Our objective is to facilitate these connections and support through hosted events and social media.
Advocacy. We believe that to effect change, we need to advocate for diversity. We do this by gathering opportunities for talent sourcing, connecting industry, academia and the community. In addition, we purposefully highlight the amazing work being done by our community as a means to increase visibility as well as encourage individuals on their journey.
Accountability. We know change is not always immediate, but an important step to ensuring progress is to track the progress and highlight success. We hope to work alongside academia and industry to help them find talent, retain talent and highlight progress in increased diversity.
To learn more, please see this editorial: “Robots are not immune to bias and injustice” Howard, Kennedy in Science Robotics, 2020.
As an Ally, how can I help right now?
Goal 1: Financial or corporate support for BiR fundraising activities
- Introduce the BiR Committee to potential sponsors
- Provide grant writing assistance
- BiR is currently fundraising to provide and support fellowships. More information here.
Goal 2: Academic support for BiR and underrepresented minorities
- Refer BiR members for panels, positions & awards
- Suggest that your participation in panels etc. is contingent on event diversity
- Seek collaborations with robotics research faculty at HBCU’s/MSIs
- Cite BiR authors in publications and add BiR researchers to reading lists & curricula
- BiR hosts a Speakers Bureau and a Publication List to assist our efforts.
Goal 3: Company or startup support for BiR
- Facilitate BiR internships at your company or startup
- Give talks to or mentor early career stage BiR members
- One example is the Amazon Robotics as founding partner of the BiR Boston Chapter
Goal 4: General support for BiR
- Become a champion, and amplify the voice of the underrepresented in your workplace
- Be a supporter of other diversity initiatives/Societies ie. NSBE, WIE, ACM, IEEE, AAAI
- Spread the word about BiR and Allies, via events, social media and newsletters
- Actively support BiR outreach activities (e.g. workshops (K-12+), conference events, mentors to robotics students)
- More information about being an Ally is here.
More information about joining Black in Robotics or BiR Allies.
From the Black in Robotics – Allies Steering Committee:
- Aaron Johnson
- Allison Okamura
- Ayanna Howard
- Hadas Kress-Gazit
- Henny Admoni
- Henrik Christensen
- Monroe Kennedy
- Kerri Fetzer-Borelli
- Pieter Abbeel
- Vijay Kumar
- Co-Chair Ken Goldberg
- Co-Chair Andra Keay