C. Wieringa (2021)

Can Computers be Non-Binary?

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Master's Thesis (Uni Wien)


Research has shown that incorporating sex and gender analysis into experimental design improves scientific and technological innovation and increases its social robustness. Furthermore, because scientific institutions such as funding agencies and the European Commission are increasingly bringing gender inclusivity to the foreground, the popularity of engaging in such analysis is additionally on the rise. This master thesis in the field of Science and Technology Studies aims to uncover through the means of qualitative interviews if and how the topic of gender plays a role within the four different research areas of the visual computing company VRVis in Vienna. Utilized for the analysis are existing methodologies for uncovering potential gender aspects in computer science research projects. Within the four areas (Visual Analytics, Smart Worlds, Immersive Analytics, and Complex Systems) the importance of considering gender varies substantially related to how directly the work in that area affects humans. Furthermore, compared to the three gender equality dimensions of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework, within the reflections of the VRVis researchers a heavier focus existed on the first two dimensions, which include stimulating the increase of the number of women active within computer science research projects, and less on the third dimension which includes a focus on the effects of sociocultural conceptions of male and female on the development of technology. Lastly, because VRVis is a research institution that is often involved in the development of prototypes and is therefore not in a position to develop all its technology to the fullest, an open but important question exists on when and by whom gender should be reflected upon in the entire trajectory of the innovation process.