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UX Speaker Series: Lauren Thomas

Recorded February 25, 2022, as part of the UX Speaker Series in the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.


Data for Social Justice: Representation, Relevance and Ownership

A by-product of enhanced digitization are the data and records generated by people, either through choice or as an unavoidable aspect of technology advancement and modern global citizenship. The analysis and use of personal data can have significant consequences for nearly any aspect of life – economic, education, health and the many other systems that affect communities and nations. The specific types of data used in a given context, how it is collected, its meaning, the consent to access, and the human rights outcomes resulting from it require significant consideration from human, policy, and ethical perspectives.

This discussion will focus on the affordances that “big data” can offer social justice (racial, social, environmental) and the participatory methods and partnerships necessary to ensure that data can be used to advance these issues. We will overview two projects that are in development, a data platform for social justice nonprofits and environmental justice mapping.

Lauren Thomas Quigley, PhD is a Research Scientist focused on the development of responsible and inclusive technology. Specifically, she researches practical approaches for fairness and inclusion in AI, data representation, and projecting technology’s impact on society and the environment through a lens of social justice. Her secondary area of research is the use of critical theories in engineering education.

In nearly 10 years of professional experience, Dr. Quigley has led education at scale efforts in government, higher education, nonprofits, and the tech industry, many of which have focused on learning outside of the traditional classroom. These learning experiences, whether for a cohort of 24 or for tens of thousands of learners globally, were designed and implemented with a research baseline and an aim to improve interdisciplinary and intersectional pathways into STEM. Lauren is currently a Research Scientist at IBM Research and an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. She also serves as a curriculum and strategy advisor for Hack the Hood.