On Jan 29 and Feb 5th the Institute of Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI) at Texas A&M University conducted a two day workshop, organized by Dr. Tracy Hammond, Director, IEEI, Texas A&M University on the topic ‘’Gender and Racial Bias in the Tech Industry,’’ with around 35 attendees. The goal of the workshop was to gain deeper insights into the different types of bias that occur in the recruitment process for high-skilled tech workers.
Participants discussed potential interventions to identify and prevent bias, through technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, eye-tracking and artificial intelligence-powered tools. The research team learned about the standard practices of the technology industry’s recruitment processes, how practices differ between companies, in what phases of the recruitment process does bias occur, and what types of biases occur, the different types of evidence that are produced by biased recruiting practices, and what technologies are useful for identifying and preventing this bias.
Several eminent academic and industry experts participated as presenters and facilitators. The first day started off with an introductory session by Dr. Tracy Hammond, followed by a panel discussion on tech hiring and current processes by industry experts, facilitated by Dr. Joanna Lahey, Associate Professor for the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. The workshop featured presentations on building inclusive practices in the tech industry, anti-blackness in Engineering, issues in recruiting and why bias can cause a discrepancy in GPA scores, examining the benefits and drawbacks of workplace visibility among minority employees and building a culture of antiracism in the tech industry. The lunch session consisted of Dr. Theodora Chaspari facilitating discussions on veteran, race, and gender bias in tech hiring by. The second half of the workshop dealt with identifying potential tech interventions via presentations on data, algorithms, behavioral sciences, emotion recognition, virtual reality, and eye-tracking. The presentations were followed by a facilitated discussion by Dr. Sherecce Fields, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, on information and communication technologies that might influence behavioral decision making.
Day two of the workshop consisted of a facilitated brainstorming session by Dr. Jennifer PeeksMease, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Studies at James Madison University, and Dr. Edna Chun, Lecturer, School of Professional Studies at Columbia University. Participants were split into four groups and discussed strategies on how technology can be used to make the biggest difference and support the future. Ideas on what could be used to replace the resume, what information should essentially be on a resume, how can people’s unique skills be represented beyond their technical qualifications, how VR could be used to interact with diverse people, and getting feedback as the hiring manager were discussed among several others.
The lunch session included a presentation on Gender Bias in Stem: Sexism in the Classroom and Beyond by Dr. Joe Feagin, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University & Dr. Melissa Ochoa, Sociology and Diversity Fellow & Founder, Sociology Graduate Student Mentoring & Academic Development. The second half of the day was facilitated by Dr. Karan Watson, Regents Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the participants discussed how they would work together, who would be interested in being a part of the solution going forward, how tech companies can participate and what tech companies would essentially need to collaborate with the researchers effectively on this project.