Topic: Techno-utopianism is dead: Now is the time to pay attention to the inequality, marginalization, and biases woven into our technological systems.

Speakers: Janet Abbate, Mar Hicks, Kavita Philip, Sreela Sarkar. Moderator: Dr. Sarah Kaplan

Date & Time: May 17, 5-6PM EST

Location: Online. Rotman events will send all registrants the link for the livestream before the event.


14-day Catch-up Viewing: Unable to attend the live event due to scheduling conflicts? Not to worry. You can access the full recording on-demand for two weeks after the live event.


How do we dismantle systems of oppression in technology? To answer this question, we’ve convened a panel of authors of essays in the book Your Computer is on Fire. They will sound an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley-led tech obsession. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are not just minor bugs to be patched, but part and parcel of ideas that assume technology can fix—and control—society.

We will talk about the history of how our human and computational systems overlap, showing why technologies that centralize power tend to weaken democracy and perpetuate inequities. These practices are often kept out of sight until it is too late to question the costs of how they shape society. We will also explore paths for action to understand and solve technological problems that are often ignored or misunderstood.

About Our Speakers:

Janet Abbate is a Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and serves as co-director of the graduate program of the Department of Science, Technology, and Society in Northern Virginia. Abbate’s work focuses on the history, culture, and policy issues of the internet and computing. Abbate’s current research investigates the historical emergence of computer science as an intellectual discipline, an academic institution, and a professional identity.

Mar Hicks is Associate Professor of History at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Hicks is an author, historian, and professor doing research on the history of computing, labor, technology, and queer science and technology studies. Hicks’ research focuses on how gender and sexuality bring hidden technological dynamics to light, and how the experiences of women and LGBTQI people change the core narratives of the history of computing in unexpected ways.

Kavita Philip is President’s Excellence Chair in Network Cultures at the University of British Columbia and Professor of English. Philip’s research and teaching in Global South histories and sociologies of science, computational technologies, environment, network cultures, media, and politics crosses geographic boundaries and ranges across scholarly disciplines.

Sreela Sarkar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Santa Clara University. Sarkar’s ethnographic research studies the institutional and cultural politics of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) initiatives in global India, specifically those directed at IT and soft skills training for marginalized youth in the urban peripheries of New Delhi. Sarkar’s work unpacks popular notions of the “digital divide” and “access” in the context of complex histories of religion, gender, class and caste.

Moderator: Dr. Sarah Kaplan is Director, Institute for Gender and the Economy, Distinguished Professor of Gender & the Economy and Professor of Strategic Management at Rotman. She is a co-author of the bestselling business book, Creative Destruction as well as Survive and Thrive: Winning Against Strategic Threats to Your Business. Her latest book, The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation was published in September 2019. Her research has covered how organizations participate in and respond to the emergence of new fields and technologies in biotechnology, fiber optics, financial services, nanotechnology and most recently, the field emerging at the nexus of gender and finance. Her current work focuses on applying an innovation lens to understanding the challenges for achieving gender equality.

Co-Hosted By: TD Management and Data Analytics Lab (TDMDAL) and Institute for Gender and the Economy


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The Gender Analytics: Possibilities (GA:P) Event Series is an exciting multi-session online series. This unique online experience will highlight how emerging areas of analytics applied to issues around diversity and gender shape risks and opportunities for many organizations, operations and outcomes. Experts in data analytics, gender, and diversity, and inclusion more broadly will share their research and insights to an audience of business, academic, and government leaders.

The GA:P Event Series is being planned jointly by two Rotman research centers, the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) and TD Management Data and Analytics Lab co-organized by Susan Christoffersen (Co-Academic Director, TD MDAL), Sarah Kaplan (Director, GATE) and Matt Mitchell (Co-Academic Director, TD MDAL)

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