Far from Neutral

by | Jun 26, 2019 | Change, ICT4D |

Most money management courses, books, workshops have a similar first step – collect ALL your receipts for a week or month so you can track what you spend your money on. This is the awareness phase, but usually called something much more catchy. The idea behind this is that it is difficult to make changes unless we are aware of our current situation.

We can do the same thing with our time. It’s more difficult to get receipts for how we spend our time, but there are lots of apps for time tracking now.

We can also do this with our projects, our teams, our work. We can think about how we allocate our time and our teams time – do we see it as an investment? If we view time as a resource, a costly one, would it change how we ‘spend’ it?

But awareness can go beyond time and money. It can apply to diversity of views we hear, we invite into discussions. We can apply it to gender and disability – are we even aware of who is ‘in the room’ when decisions are being made?

In the digital world. there is this belief that technology is neutral and unbiased. And yet, the majority of coders and people working in tech is hugely biased to men. If the datasets we use to programme machines are biased, the technology will never be neutral, just ask people of colour in the USA.

In the world of humanitarian aid, we’ve know for years the voices of women and people living with disabilities are not heard equally to others, so in many different projects we work at this. And yet, we often forget this when it comes to digital even though we know women and people living with disabilities have less access to devices, less digital literacy, and so on than others. AND we know that when we include women and people living with disabilities in our projects, better long term impact is realised in the communities.

So step one is awareness, which hopefully we are beginning to achieve. Step two in money courses tends vary from brand to brand, but tends to have something to do with answering the question “so what do you want to do about it?” and talking about goals etc. In the digital space, as we have more awareness of the built in bias that exists, we too, are left with the question – what do you want to do about it?

Photo by Loren Joseph


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