Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
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Info Sci's Aspen Russell Publishes Piece on Tech Remote work and Equity


What kind of impact will Covid-19 and the new civil rights movement – two historic and tumultuous events that consumed 2020 – have on workers shifting to remote-work models? What roles will technology and the technology industry have in making remote-work tools accessible and inclusive for all workers?

Aspen Russell
Aspen Russell
These questions are explored in a newly published article co-authored by Aspen Russell, a rising second-year doctoral student in Information Science who studies the history and impact of bias in online spaces. In the speculative piece titled “Worlds Apart: Technology, Remote Work, and Equity,” published in this month’s Technology Predictions issue from IEEE Computer Society, Russell and coauthor Eitan Frachtenberg of Reed College examine the intersection of these two phenomena, their ongoing impact on the tech work landscape, and the ways in which this transition to remote work could affect marginalized populations.

The pandemic worsened existing issues of equity for marginalized people, Russell said, but tech companies fared well, reaping financial gains as the world shifted to remote work and became more dependent on tech products.  

“Tech workers were not only able to retain their jobs, but have undue influence on the design and implementation of these products that would be used in our schools and jobs,” she said. “Tech companies and workers have the ability to reassess the impact of their products, their workplaces, their policies, and more to create spaces and tools that work for the majority. This needs to happen now.” 

The demographic makeup of major tech companies – which skews white, East Asian, and men – matters too, since these groups earn the highest salaries, have accumulated wealth, and live in large, coastal cities, Russell added.

“When you don’t live with the most pressing issues, your products and workplace reflect that. What’s missing is the lives of the majority,” she said. “Our piece aims to bring in the varied lived experiences of the people tech companies affect. From hiring and retention practices to the end user, the people we aim to highlight provide the necessary context to innovate.” 

A pre-print version is available via TechRxiv.