International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Laura Schelenz

Society, Culture and Technological Change

Laura’s research deals with ethical and feminist perspectives on technology development. Her dissertation at the University of Tübingen conceptualizes and questions “diversity-aware technology” from a Black feminist perspective. Laura is an interdisciplinary researcher by training. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Heidelberg University and an M.A. in Peace and Conflict Research from Frankfurt University, with stays abroad in the USA and Hungary. She has worked in conflict research and human rights advocacy in different organizations in Germany. From 2017 to 2019, Laura worked at the IZEW in a project on the ethics of digitalization in Africa.

Areas of Expertise

  • Technology
  • Technology Development
  • Black Feminism
  • Gender
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Social Justice

Selected publications

Schelenz, Laura (2021): Artificial Intelligence between Oppression and Resistance: Black Feminist Perspectives on Emerging Technologies. In: Ariane Hanemaayer and Colin Kelley Garvey (Eds). AI and its Discontents, Palgrave (Forthcoming).

Schelenz, Laura; Bison, Ivano; Busso, Matteo; de Götzen, Amalia; Gatica-Perez, Daniel; Giunchiglia, Fausto; Meegahapola, Lakmal; Ruiz-Correa, Salvador (2021): The Theory, Practice, and Ethical Challenges of Designing a Diversity-Aware Platform for Social Relations. In: AIES '21: Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (Forthcoming).

Schelenz, Laura (2021): Diversity-aware Recommendations for Social Justice? Exploring User Diversity and Fairness in Recommender Systems. In Judith Masthoff, Eelco Herder, Nava Tintarev, Marko Tkalčič (Eds.): Adjunct Proceedings of the 29th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. UMAP '21: 29th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. Utrecht Netherlands, 21 06 2021 25 06 2021. New York, NY, USA: ACM, pp. 404–410.

Schelenz, Laura; Pawelec, Maria (2021): Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) critique. In Information Technology for Development, pp. 1–24. DOI: 10.1080/02681102.2021.1937473.

Schelenz, Laura; Segal, Avi; Gal, Kobi (2020): Best Practices for Transparency in Machine Generated Personalization. In Tsvi Kuflik, Ilaria Torre, Robin Burke, Cristina Gena (Eds.): Adjunct Publication of the 28th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. UMAP '20: 28th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. Genoa Italy, 14 July 2020 - 17 July 2020. New York, NY, USA: ACM, pp. 23–28.

Schelenz, Laura; Segal, Avi; Gal, Kobi (2020): Applying Transparency in Artificial Intelligence based Personalization Systems. Available online at

Heesen, Jessica; Schelenz, Laura; Schopp, Kerstin; Pawelec, Maria (2019): Ethical Questions of Digitalization in the Global South. Perspectives on Justice and Equality. In: Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung in Theorie und Praxis 28(2).

Schelenz, Laura; Schopp, Kerstin (2018): Digitalization in Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Technology, Development, and Justice. In: International Journal of Digital Society 9(4), DOI: 10.20533/ijds.2040.2570.2018.0175


Applying Transparency in Artificial Intelligence based Personalization Systems.” With Avi Segal. Presentation at the Virtual Human-AI Interaction Workshop (HAIW), European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI). 8 September 2020.

Best Practices for Transparency in Machine-Generated Personalization.” With Avi Segal. Presentation at the Virtual ACM Conference on User Modelling and Adaptive Technologies. 16 July 2020.

Ethics for System Design.” With Amalia De Götzen. Virtual Lecture at Aalborg University’s Technical Faculty of IT and Design. 22 April 2020.

Data for Diversity-Aware Technology: Some Ethical Considerations.” Presented at the European Big Data Community Forum 2019 “Beyond Privacy: Learning Data Ethics” at Solvay Library, Brussels, 14 November 2019.

Algorithmic Bias, Race, and Gender: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go From Here?” Presented at the “Interdisciplinary Conference on the Relations of Humans, Machines and Gender” in Braunschweig, 16 to 19 October 2019.

Ethical Challenges of Digitalization in Africa.” Presented at the International Conference on Ethics in Porto, 19 June 2019.

Data for Diversity-Aware and Non-Discriminatory Technology: Ethical Questions from the Project WeNet – the Internet of Us.” Presented at the Critical Data Studies Workshop at ICWSM 2019 in Munich, 11 June 2019.

Survive, Tweet, Grow? The Potential of #MeToo Activism for Resilience of Survivors of Sexual Harassment.” Presented at NORA Conference on Border Regimes, Territorial Discourses, and Feminist Politics in Reykjavik, 22 to 24 May 2019.

„Digitale Technologien, Nachhaltigkeit, Menschenrechte und neo_koloniale Effekte.“

(Translation: Digital Technologies, Sustainability, Human Rights, and Neo-colonial Effects). Discussion at W3 in Hamburg, December 2018, available online at

“Digitalisierung im Globalen Süden – Informationszugang und Herausforderungen für Frauen in Afrika.“ (Translation: Digitalization in the Global South – Information Access and Challenges for Women in Africa) Presented at Steinbeis Forum, 29 November 2018.

Intercultural Information Ethics and the Digitalization of Africa.” Presented at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 14 November 2018.

Can ICTs Finally Make Us Equal? A Feminist-Ethical Analysis of the Narrative ‘Gender Equality through Technology.’” Presented at the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities in Tübingen, 15 May 2018.

Closing the Gender Digital Divide with Value-Laden Technology? A Critical Inquiry into the Narrative ‘Gender Equality through Technology.’” Presented at the In/Equalities Conference at CEU in Budapest, 4 May 2018.

Ph.D. Thesis

Diversity and Discrimination in Social Networking: Diversity Aware Technology from a Black Feminist Perspective” (2019-2022)

In her dissertation, Laura explores and discusses how Black feminist theory can be harnessed to design and develop “diversity-aware technology.” A growing field in the computer sciences sees technology as a solution to societal challenges and wants to leverage ethical AI for social good. At the same time, scholarly communities in the computer sciences warn of algorithmic discrimination and the reinforcement of societal challenges in and through technology. “Diversity-aware technology” sits in between the two movements and may present an alternative to the status quo. Diversity-aware technology takes into account the diversity of users but at the same time has a normative component that demands inclusion of diverse user groups. While this seems innovative, there are challenges. Diversity-aware technology builds on categories of difference that “sort” users into groups and imply expectations towards their behavior. How can we theorize diversity-aware technology so that it does not reinforce biased conceptualizations of diverse users? How can diversity-aware technology promote social justice? The dissertation draws on a Black feminist framework to answer these questions and explore the opportunities and limitations of diversity-aware technology.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Astrid Franke, American Studies Department at University of Tübingen; Prof. Dr. Daniel Gatica-Perez, Social Computing Group at IDIAP, EPFL in Switzerland