Studies on the socio-political dimensions of technologies have highlighted the potential exclusionary impacts of underestimating societal dimensions in innovation studies and practices (Sveiby et al., 2009 ) as well as ICT design (Pinch & Oudshoorn, 2005): it has been demonstrated how the risk of emphasizing or reinforcing (digital) divides and inequalities is high, particularly when designing tools and systems based on implicit representations or ‘scripts’ of whom the users are in terms of their gender, ethnicity, social class, different abilities, age, etc. For tackling these risks, participatory approaches in ICT Design, UX (User Experience) and HCI (Human Computer Interaction) are useful.
Societal bias ends up impacting on ICT design in many ways, as recent studies on stereotypes reproduction in technologies based on machine learning and Natural Language Programming has demonstrated, and aware computer scientists can explore new ways of writing code which avoids and minimizes this (Bolukbasi, T., K.W. Chang, J. Zou, V. Saligrama & A. Kalai, 2016).
Furthermore, there is a growing interest on researching how digital innovation processes can contribute to tackle societal challenges (Stokes, Baeck, Baker- Nesta, 2017; Gossart, Julien Massè & Ozman 2018, forthcoming) and on how social innovation can find in ICTs (particularly OS ones) a leverage for local communities to participate to civic life broadly as well as to co-create welfare services and improve quality of life.
One aspect of Computer Sciences Research being not inclusive is connected to the lack of girls and women among IT professionals in Europe whereas females represent 13% of graduates in Computer Sciences (EC, 2018) and, as it is the case for most of scientific disciplines indeed, there’s an unbalanced representation of researchers and academics with a migrant background as well.
At Acadia we have started working on projects to increase the representation of women in CS since the year 2012 while more recently also issues of ICT co-design for digital social innovations have been a subject of research. We strive for new research collaborations on these areas, also in view of new H2020 and other EU calls for proposals.
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