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Published onApr 02, 2019

Diversity, or rather the lack of diversity, has been recognized as a huge problem in informatics, and we don’t know of a way to fix it within a manageable time frame. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the very fact that the lack of diversity is a problem is being vigorously attacked, often from far-right groups and positions. Many of these arguments come from a firm believe in the benefits of meritocratic ideals.

We present diversity deficits in informatics and their effects on research, the industry as well as society throughout our lecture, and we contrast these incidents with examples of hidden, forgotten or understated diversity in our history. One such example would be to point out how Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, was the first-ever programmer, and how throughout history her achievements were doubted or belittled by (mostly male) historians. We deliberately point out forgotten women in computing history, such as Joan Clarke, a cryptanalyst working together with Alan Turing. She was employed as a Linguist at Blechley Park, because the role of cryptoanalyst was not available for a women. Subsequently, she not only earned much less than her male colleagues, but she was also long forgotten in the history of enigma-breaking and early computing theory.

We account for diversity in many of the main chapters: in critical thinking, we offer an exercise centered around stereotypes and prejudice; in design thinking, we talk about famous examples of products designed from a male perspective like three-point belt, office air conditioning, or the first revision of Apple Health that excluded period tracking; in economic thinking, we broach the issue of the toxic male startup culture; etc.

Additionally and in concordance with the regulations at TU Wien, we require students to use a gender-equal writing style in their written hand-ins.


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