More women choosing to study computer science at DIKU – Why does it matter?

This year, the number of women choosing to study Computer Science education at the University of Copenhagen has risen to completely new heights. From 7% to 18% in only two years. This fills us with joy because it is aligned with our efforts in But… Why is this an important piece of news? Nowadays, and more than ever, digital technologies play an important role in society. Statistics show that digital technologies are used by many but are developed by a few. This becomes especially relevant when looking at the number of women who participate in developing digital technologies.

What are the issues related to this lack of diversity? A crucial issue is that it can limit what it is taken into consideration and what it is left out, therefore potentially constraining people rather than enabling them. Companies are increasingly eager to bring in people with different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge in developing digital technologies  –  this entails that there is indeed a diverse pool of people with the required skills and knowledge (which opens up the discussion of what are these “required” skills, we will leave this for another post). Engaging in activities that display different representations of computing, potentially increasing the interest of women (and not only) in computer science is one step towards broadening participation in technology development, and and DIKU are taking this step forward.

You can read more about it on DIKU’s website (in Danish)

Clerical work: Diversity in technology is also about giving voice to under-represented groups researchers Naja L. Holten Møller and Pernille Bjørn study the role which new types of sensor data produce in the workplace to find ways to strengthen the agenda on diversity in use –  Assistant professor Naja Holten Møller speaks about this in a new article in Interaction Design.

The workplace has seen the dramatic growth of sensor technology to produce large datasets in and through peoples work. In tracking the movement of personnel within hospitals, it is the clerical work that (again) goes unnoticed in the overall picture. Clerical work is ubiquitous. It is carried out in practically any place where things need to be filed and processed. And, due to its routine and repetitive nature, clerical work is often undervalued and thus underrepresented.

While data tracking in the workplace has received increased attention in research as well as industry interested in smart technologies, it is still an open question how exactly we adjust our research methods accordingly to understand the broader implications of sensor-based data production as a larger phenomenon affecting us all. Taking into account the lived experience of clerical workers and ethnographic inquiry combined with data mining formed the cornerstones of the triangulation tool applied in this work. As new hospitals are designed, it is critical that key parts of the workflow are not neglected due to the bias in whose work counts as valuable in data-driven healthcare. Read more about this fascinating and timely piece of work in the July edition of ACM’s IX Interactions magazine.