Referring to Communities Underrepresented in Computing in BPC Plans

The NSF requires BPC plans to identify the communities the activities will benefit. For consistency across plans, these communities must be identified using population names from the NSF CISE BPC FAQ or the NSF CISE BPC initiative, or alternative terms for those communities used by members of those communities in your context.

Many plans wish to refer to several communities and define a joint-population term to do so. There are no standard joint-population terms: each plan that uses one must define it. Some terms that were common in the past have been critiqued, including “diverse students” (individuals cannot be diverse, only groups) and “underrepresented minority” (see this article by Dr. Tiffani Williams).

Suggesting that a person can be reduced to one or more of their identities can be offensive. When writing plans, use person-centric language and remember that individuals identify with multiple communities and communities are not homogeneous. Additional advice is available within’s Common Mistakes in Departmental BPC Plans, the Tone and Clarity Checklist in the Checklist for Departmental BPC Plans, and the American Psychological Association’s advice for “Bias-Free Language“.