April 25, 2018 - “As an example of technology's impact, our judicial and economic systems increasingly rely on risk assessment algorithms that use proxy categories such zip code to predict a person’s trajectory—for example, whether or not they’re loan-worthy or at risk to commit a future crime,” Tayo Jolaosho, Exaptive software engineer, led a captivating discussion regarding the importance of ethnographic perspectives in tech. Tayo continued, “In consideration of this increasing reach, we have ethical responsibilities as data creatives to be better informed and more deliberate in our practice. We cannot assume that facts or numbers speak for themselves.”
Exaptive hosted the April meeting for Oklahoma Women in Tech (OK WIT). We witnessed the incredible success OK WIT is having connecting and mobilizing females in STEM professions. A group of about 50 women came to the Exaptive office for OK WIT’s meeting on the evening of Wednesday, April 25. The event featured three presenters:
- Tayo Jolaosho, Exaptive software engineer and PhD in cultural anthropology
- Alicia Knoedler, Executive Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director of the Center for Research Program Development & Enrichment at the University of Oklahoma
- Megan Clifford, American Fidelity Data Scientist
When asked about advice for young women regarding tech jobs, Tayo replied, “Our tech industry, its patterns, values and practices have been inaugurated to embrace growth at all costs without much consideration for its impact in the lives of users or the material landscape in which this industry is embedded. More attention to the human dimension in our practice from our various corners of the world is made all the more necessary by these origins. We cannot afford to not participate.”
Alicia offered perspective on how many paths can lead to careers in tech. She started her career teaching and researching cognitive psychology. She talked about being a person who likes to “connect the dots,” which has been helpful in connecting researchers to solve specific problems as she leads OU’s Center for Research Program Development & Enrichment.
Megan showed examples of beautiful data visualizations and described how she fell in love with math in college when she realized it could be applied in so many interesting ways. Megan talked about a range of interesting problems that could be thought about in new ways, from protecting bicyclists from right-turning cars to behavioral patterns anticipated in people suffering chronic health problems. The data leads to solutions once patterns are identified.