Session: A Designer's Responsibility for Inclusive Design in Tech
The designs and products produced by engineers, designers, and developers inherently affect the societies in which they are implemented, whether for better or for worse. Often times, new designs and technologies are developed without fully addressing this impact, and without full consideration of the needs for inclusive designs - designs that consider a wide variety of end-users and that actively work to eliminate bias or discriminative designs in their technologies. A lack of consideration for discriminative design can result in a discriminatory society, and a lack of diversity in design teams can result in ideas from certain groups not being valued. Examples ranging from hand soap dispensers not being able to recognize darker skin tones, to racially biased algorithms in healthcare, to crash test dummies being modelled after able-bodied men which increases the severity of injuries for women in car crashes, examples of discriminatory designs in tech are everywhere. This talk will discuss strategies to promote inclusive design and the importance of inclusive designing in the tech sector, in addition to the value of diversity in the tech sector to avoid discriminatory designs.
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Bio: Sierra Sparks
Sierra is a recent graduate of electrical engineering with a biomedical engineering focus from Dalhousie University, and will be pursuing graduate studies in biomedical engineering at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in the fall. She has been actively involved with the engineering community within Nova Scotia and across Canada. She has held leadership positions at the local level with the Dalhousie Undergraduate Engineering Society, and at the national level the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, where she was the Vice President Academic from 2020-2021.
She is passionate about increasing the number of women and underrepresented youth in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which she does through her involvement with the Women in Engineering Society, and through an African Nova Scotian Math tutoring program. She believes that the engineering and tech sectors are stronger with diversity in lived experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Sierra wishes to continue to be an advocate and role model for young people in and outside of engineering, and to advocate for inclusive designs in STEM.