Garbage In. Garbage Out.

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A few minutes into our interview with British computer scientist and academic Sue Black we heard about the moment she first discovered the remarkable story of Dame Stephanie Shirley. She then asked the question “Why haven’t I grown up knowing her name? Why isn’t she one of the most famous people in the UK….when she’s done things similar to any of the tech pioneers that we do know about? Most of whom are men.”

It’s an important question to ask because, whilst it has a simple answer — years of cultural and workplace bias — erasing that bias is a lot harder and more nuanced problem to solve. So in Episode 1 we look at how diversity in teams shapes the ethics of products and the challenges organisations face in erasing bias. There are many examples of how software products have gender and racial bias built in so we spoke to scientists, engineers and start-ups to see what they are doing to produce ethical tech products.

Throughout the series we’ll look at many issues women working in technology face and tell the stories of those who persisted through those issues to create change. By shining a light on women from the past and present who are transforming teaching and learning through technology we hope that in the future their stories will no longer be followed by the question “Why have I grown up not knowing her name?”


Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley — Tech pioneer, businesswoman, philanthropist and legend

Dr Sue Black OBE — Computer scientist, social entrepreneur and author of Saving Bletchley Park

Joanna Bryson — Computer scientist at the University of Bath

Chuin Phang — Diversity and Inclusion, Pearson

Jan McSorley — VP Accessibility for School Assessments, Pearson

Carissa Romero — Paradigm, co-founder of co-founded PERTS, Stanford’s applied research centre on mindsets and one of Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Leigh Alexander — Author, journalist and host of Episode 1

Anjali Ramachandran — Co-founder of Ada’s List, Head of Partnerships at Storythings and researcher and editor on Nevertheless

Jason Oberholtzer — Music and Sound Designer on Episode 1

Dasha Lisitsina — Producer of Episode 1

Nathan Martin — Exec Producer

Quotes from the episode

“I realised that if you’re in the majority life is so much easier. Going to that conference changed my life and made me realise it’s not me that’s rubbish at talking to people, it’s the environment that’s not conducive to me sharing my research.” — Dr Sue Black OBE

“Whoever you’ve got designing the AI system, if there’s no diversity in the team, then you’re going to get a product that is tailored specifically only for the mindset of the people that have designed and built it.” — Joanna Bryson

“Diversity can’t just be this extra-curricular thing in people’s heads. We see it as necessary as part of the product development cycles and teams.” — Chuin Phang

“We’re making our products better because accessible design is just better design.” — Jan McSorley

“We know that when companies have more of a fixed mindset culture are actually more likely to rely on stereotypes which make sense because stereotypes are essentially beliefs about groups mixed ability” — Carissa Romero

Full Transcript of Garbage in. Garbage out.

Reading List

More on how paradigm are designing inclusive management at Pinterest

News Deeply partnered with AirBnB to create a research tool for designers to push them to think about their biases in design

More on Joanna Bryson’s work on how prejudices sneak into AI systems

Sue Black’s campaign to save Bletchley Park

Pearson’s Jan McSorley — How blind people are learning at the speed of Math

The racist soap dispense mentioned in the episode…

Dame Stephanie Shirley speaking at TED

How the advertising messaging in the 70s changed the culture making tech a male dominant field to work in…

The Story of Kodak’s Shirley Cards set photography’s skin tone standard

Searching for Stephanie and finding Steven on LinkedIn

Google and the gorilla suggestion

Tell us your story

We’d love to hear about the challenges you’ve faced when it comes to diversity in the workplace — good and bad. We’d also like to hear about the women you think have not got the credit they deserve for their remarkable achievements. Leave your stories in the comments below.

Nevertheless is produced by Storythings and supported by Pearson Education. If you’re interested in the kind of work Pearson do read these fascinating predictions about the future of work and skills which came out of their research project with Nesta and the Oxford Martin School.

Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Soundcloud, TuneIn or RadioPublic.