Inclusivity and open science hardware



##Session Title: Inclusivity and open science hardware

##Date: 23/03/2017

##Attendees (who was there?):

  • Shneel - architecture at UCL
  • Tara - working with formal and informal educators to teach STEAM to kids from Kindgarten to 8th grade.
  • Paloma - work with a large range of people in education and art
  • Gayatri - working with FAT in India to introduce science and tech through the feminist movement in India
  • Bethan - inclusivity for looking at DNA and people feeling like they have an opinion and voice
  • Shannon - work with people impacted by industrial pollution
  • Aakriti - working with Kharkana in Nepal to teach technology to young people
  • David - working with high school students from wide range of backgrounds in Chicago
  • Klie - interested in inclusivity in sci/tech spaces and across broader communities. Inclusivity makes me feel weird, interested in langauge that is less about bringing the other in but also
  • Severine - Education in high school and with adults to reach a
  • Xiamyra - DITOS project tries to connect DIYbio community in Europe. Interested in if the location of the organiser makes a difference
  • Juanma - Interested in opening up science to bring different questions from communities who are not often included from poorer or migrant communities.
  • Jenny - running a synthetic biology initiative working with people from a lot of backgrounds and trying to create a good environment for all people.

##Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):

This discussion looked at inclusivity in science and technology and specifically open science hardware. The conversation covered whether ‘inclusive’ is a good word to use as it implies a sense of other. If friends explicitly state ‘oh, we’ll include you’, that does not feel welcoming. The conclusion of the discussion was that being welcoming, listening, visible, open and attempting to understand the community is the crux of working with people who, for example, don’t feel they should have a view or opinion on a scientific topic, or who do not feel empowered to teach science.

Whether bringing people in is always the right thing to do was also a consideration, it is difficult to differentiate between people who would like to engage with appropriate opportunities and those who just do not want to engage.

We discussed how power structures and hierarchies are inherent in scientific institutions as well as between institutions and communities. One way to account for and mitigate this is to have clear community-driven memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to ensure community organisations and participants have input into resource allocation and are compensated for their work. It was less clear how to manage these relationships where no contract was involved but expectations need to be plainly stated upfront and managed to ensure it is an equitable partnership.


Shannon/Klie: Shift away from using the word inclusive in Public Lab because it means that the organisers are creating a space within the organisation for other people, rather than being open to everyone in a broader sense. Analogy would be a friendship group saying to two people ‘oh, we’ll include you’; there is already an obvious difference and separation there.

Gayatri: Effects of sci/tech are global but ability to influence it is not. Want to get to anyone who is impacted and analyse the distance in understanding and participation. Want to see reduced division between user

Tara: Work with formal and informal educators (e.g. running clubs and youth groups in maker spaces). Big push for STEM at policy level but educators feel resistance and feel excluded and don’t have skills, capability and resources. This can trickle down to children as it is presented in a negative way as something they ‘have’ to do. How to work with these educators and train them to introduce the topics in a safe environment and feel comfortable.

Bethan: Lots of events we’ve run have had people say ‘I don’t feel like I should have an opinion’. How do you work around people feeling like they shouldn’t be part of something and give them to opportunity to want or not want.

Xiamyra: Similar experiences and grants often have requirements and quota for engagement - dilemna of whether they want to be engaged and whether it is ethical to preach technology to these groups.

Shannon: Atmosphere of poaching because research groups have to go out and make partnerships with underrepresented groups.

Juanma: Power structures and hierarchies are inherent in scientific institutions as well as between institutions and communities. Universities do not want to share the funding, money, decision making influence and responsibility.

Money may not need to be involved, but it is sometimes pragmatically necessary.

Aakriti: Kharkana is outside of the educations system and the schools and teachers look up to the organisation and see them as competition and are worried about being pressured into learning the same technical things rather than working together on the same level.

Severine: Multiple themes here, how do we structure particular questions that we can then tackle with actions?

Paloma: Same problems in Mexico, gender, age.
We came up with a methodology for our workshops based on “The Ignorant Schoolmaster” by Jacques Rancière based on breaking down roles of teacher and student and putting everyone into the same group. Solving a personal problem out of what is being taught can also be helpful e.g. tap water not running as a means to learn physics and finding information digitally.

Gayatri: Breaking down rules of who is making/using. In an Indian context there is a problem that scientific progress discredits previous scientific understanding. Everyone is using and creating their own technologies and sometimes their own solutions are more appropriate. Need to look at how we ended up in this position.

There are some projects like restart (UK) that allow people to start an introduction to reclaiming right to repair slowly and with technology they care about that affects their daily lives.

Shannon: Community-driven MOUs for partnerships as they require resource allocation and the MOUs build in financial planning and resource allocation. Very powerful tool built from environmental justice movement.

Bethan: With environmental monitoring there is a community question, so that makes it a good system.

Shannon: Public Lab was formed as a critique of citizen science which is usually incredibly top down and not driven by communities.
Bethan: Is it still worth engaging communities that are not interested?
Shannon: Yes, our role is working out hardware tools, data, what to do with it. We focus on making sure the ownership is with the community from the questions to the data.

Severine: Need to invite people who don’t feel they have the right to see something e.g. cleaner at GOSH exhibition.

Klie: How to tackle this quickly at the start? MOUs are great when contracts are involved but humans have a very tiny attention span of 7s. Is there one way to very quickly get things across quickly.

Gayatri: We are not science and tech people we are activists; feminist activists on the ground
Teaching how to use a computer to young women + other subjects women’s rights, etc.
Make it relevant to a real world problem
Relate technology to real world problems - including violence against women

Tara: We lose a lot of girls from science and tech when they are about 10 years old
It’s effective to use a connected learning / interest-driven approach - not you should learn programming because it’s important to your future, rather, what problem do you wan to solve, what you are interested in.

Community Activism
Communicating within the community and that a problem has a lot of relevance and ask them to be engaged

Some people feel they are not entitled or allowed to participate in a project because they don’t have the right skills
Elevate what each of the people know- “everyone is very ignorant but we don’t ignore the same things.” - Einstein
Listen and learn from people that don’t have a formal education in a subject
Many types of knowledge and expertise

Disseminate free knowledge - there is a lack of perceived value / people don’t understand the value
You can tell people in a community that their environment is not clean or toxic to their health, but there is still a barrier there because there isn’t a perceived value in open hardware or open science

We can’t force anything on people, it’s their choice if they want to accept or take what is offered to them, free or not. Can be experience as a top down approach.

Understand the community before providing a solution. Listen. Open. Visible. Welcoming others ideas.