Celebrating Pride in Computer Science

I’m Jack Bunyan, Equality and Diversity Officer and Computer Science Society (CSS) Officer in the Faculty of Engineering. My job is to make sure that people from all backgrounds are represented in both the Computer Science Society and the Faculty at large. This means making sure that events are inclusive, running social events for people to meet or promoting discussions about issues affecting Bristol students. As an EDI representative at the University, I am proud to represent all students and to help build an inclusive and welcoming community for all.

We’ve been celebrating diversity in Computer Science by producing merchandise in recognition of the range of people who have contributed to the discipline over the years. We’ve already started selling T-shirts with Alan Turing’s face on them, the profits going to support Off the Record (OTR), a local Bristol charity supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

But who is Alan Turing, I hear you ask?

Well, he was one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th century. His pioneering research revolutionised modern computing and he successfully broke German code encryption during the second world war. However, his private life was less happy.  In 1952, he was found guilty of ‘gross indecency’ for homosexuality, despite his enormous contributions to society, and he was forced to choose between going to prison and hormone treatment (chemical castration). It is thought that, tragically, he took his own life at the age of 41 due to the mental toll caused by the hormone treatment.

It was only recently, in 2009, that the British government apologised for its horrific treatment of Alan Turing, and in 2013, that the Queen officially gave him a posthumous pardon.

Turing’s revolutionary work makes him an inspiration to many mathematicians and computer scientists worldwide. Our Alan Turing merchandise aims to celebrate his memory and accomplishments while also providing a sombre reminder of the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and the progress that still needs to happen today.

Student wearing T-Shirt with Alan Turing's face printed on itFor this reason, we’re proud to use this merchandise to fundraise for OTR. The charity runs a programme called Freedom – a gender and social action project offering workshops to young LGBTQ+ people about housing, relationships, mental health, gender and sexuality. It also provides support, advice, social opportunities, and one-to-one LGBTQ+ counselling.

We’re aiming to produce a series of merchandise celebrating the diverse figures who have contributed so much to our discipline. We’d love to hear your nominations for inspirational figures too – so please follow the link.

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