Out to Innovate: Software Biases and Your Projects

Out to Innovate: Science Technology Engineering Mathematics with Pride


The three key takeaways from my talk on Intersectional internet studies, trans-inclusive design, accessibility, design justice, and your projects at NOGLSTP’s Out to Innovate 2019 conference:

  1. Software tends to reinforce societal systems of oppression
  2. There are ways to do better
  3. You can apply these perspectives to your own work

Here’s the slides — followed by a reference list.


Intersectional Internet Studies

  • Intersectionality: definitions, videos, and links includes videos, and links to papers, articles, interviews, and books, with perspectives on intersectionality from Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and others.
  • Safiya Umoja Noble’s A Future for Intersectional Black Feminist Technology Studies (in S&F Online) is a good short introduction to intersectional critical thinking about technology.
  • The Intersectional Internet (edited by Safiya Umoja Noble and Brendesha M. Tynes) explores a variety of topics.  Miriam E. Sweeney’s chapter on “The Intersectional Interface” looks at how gender and race shape the design of anthropomorphized virtual agents (AVAs) and “illuminates the ethical considerations that designers of technology must engage with if they are to engage socially responsible technologies.”

Technologies reflect the biases of the makers and implicit rules of society - Malkia Cyril at PDF

Trans-inclusive design

A form asking for gender with only two options: Male and Female

How not to do it


85% of home pages have low contrast text. 68% have Missing alternative text for images. 58% have empty link.

Over 90% of the top 1,000,000 home pages have significant automatically-detectable accessibility problems.

Design Justice

A map of the US with orange circles overlaid

And a few links for the software engineers

My own work focuses on the intersections between software engineering and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.  Here’s a series of presentations and articles that cover this perspective.f

Diverse, Inclusive People and Communities create software that embeds diversity and in turn empowers the diverse people and communities who created it

Also published on Medium.

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