Experience report of ICTD X in Ahmedabad, India
by Katharina Losch
‘The Tenth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development’ (ICTD X) at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India, 4–7th January 2019, was an exceptional start into the new year. I attended the event as a doctoral researcher from the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences in Germany, in the context of the doctoral programme ‘KoMMa.G — Gendered Configurations of Humans and Machines. Interdisciplinary Analyses of Technology’.
To be selected to present my work in the first ICTD Doctoral Consortium was particularly rewarding. I presented a poster on my doctoral project about ‘Female doctoral researchers from India and China in German computer science’. Against the background of a growing internationalisation in higher education, I analyse the mobility of these women as well as their impact on gender relations in German computer science. Especially in India, it is more common for women to study computer science than for instance in Germany which makes a focus on such an intercultural encounter so interesting.
Besides the conference topic on ‘Information and Communication Technology and Development’ the hosting country India was an ideal setting for communicating my research. Getting a feeling of the Indian society — short but intensive — and meeting researchers that are culturally familiar with the phenomenon of women in IT in India gave me special perspectives from within. Additionally, I could gain an impression of the society of origin of my (Indian) focus group that I investigate by means of an explorative interview study.
In the Doctoral Consortium, the other doctoral researchers and me received a detailed and project specific feedback whereby we were guided by experienced mentors — among them the organizers of the Doctoral Consortium: Prof. Aditya Johri, Prof. Nimmi Rangaswamy and Prof. Vigneswara Ilavarasan. We also learned about other PhD candidates’ projects. Connecting with other researchers that work in different parts of the world within the field of ICTD and discovering similarities was a unique experience. The Young Researchers Night which took place after the Doctoral Consortium gave possibility to further extend these contacts.
I was amazed by the variety of research in ICTD that was presented at the conference. It broadened my horizon on the potentialities of information and communication technologies for society, especially for building structures to foster equal possibilities. Due to my research background, especially the focus on gender at ICTD captured my interest, for example the open session on ‘Gender Equality in the Indian IT workforce’ by Oindrila Matilal and Mounika Neerukonda from IIIT Bangalore. The open session was organized as a panel discussion. Besides the research perspective, female practitioners talked about their experiences in that field.
These insights showed once again how important research on women in IT is and that there is still a lot work ahead in order to foster equal possibilities for both men and women. In this context, I also would like to refer to the impressive keynote by Prof. Smitha Radhakrishnan who talked about womens’ empowerment in India. All in all, being part of ICTD X was a great and enriching experience that strengthened me on my doctoral path and opened new perspectives.