Computing: History, Society, and Ethics

We are developing a course module for LMC 3304: Science, Technology, and Gender that includes readings and assignments promoting student learning about historical, social, and ethical dimensions of computer technology and computing, with particular emphasis on gender and race issues. In addition to accessing library digital archival materials, students will read and discuss scholarship in the history of science and technology, the social sciences, science and technology studies (STS), and media studies to analyze computer science practice, education, and product development and reception through a gendered lens. A gendered lens includes a focus not only on gender, but on race, sexuality, (dis)ability, economic structures, citizenship status, and any other categories resulting in marginalization. Students will examine the historical exclusion of women from computational fields, as well as the ways that masculinity and femininity are performed with and through design and use of computational and digital technology.

Readings and graded assignments will raise awareness of ethical social justice issues such as disparate impacts of algorithms, the digital divide, social media disinformation, and electronic waste and will ask students to consider these in relation to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and to principles of anti-racism. A digital assignment rubric will be developed over the summer that will ask students to create a visualization regarding issues of equity in computing. The digital assignment will call for each team of students to collaborate on developing a website component such as a timeline with dates of computing achievements significant for marginalized groups, a map outlining how e-waste moves around the world, Wikipedia-type entries related to equity issues in computing, a mind map presenting unethical social media interventions in politics, or an e-children’s book about diverse figures in computing history. Course resources and projects will be archived as a model for other instructors.

Project Year
Project Leads
Carol Colatrella
Kera Allen
Contact Email