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 digitalization and technology development. In past research projects, she has worked on European technology development, diversity-sensitive design, social media platforms, digitization in Africa, participation in the digital society, and participatory technology design with refugees and migrants. She was named to the 2023 list of "100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™." Laura is affiliated with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Areas of Expertise

  • Digitalization
  • Technology Development
  • Diversity
  • Gender and Feminist Studies
  • Participation
  • Social Justice

Selected publications

Schelenz, Laura; Segal, Avi; Adelio, Oduma; Gal, Kobi (2023): Transparency-Check: An Instrument for the Study and Design of Transparency in AI-based Personalization Systems. In: ACM Journal on Responsible Computing.

Schelenz, Laura (2023): Technology, Power, and Social Inclusion: Afghan Refugee Women’s Interaction with ICT in Germany. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion 7(3): 2-31.

Schelenz, Laura (2023): Diversity and Social Justice in Technology Design: Reflections on Diversity-Aware Technology. International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies 5(2): 33-53,

Helm, Paula; Loizos, Michael, Schelenz, Laura (2022): Diversity by Design? Balancing the Inclusion and Protection of Users in an Online Social Platform. In: AIES '22: Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society,

Martinez Demarco, Sol; Schelenz, Laura (2022): Diversity and Technology. A Zine. Internationales Zentrum für Ethik in den Wissenschaften. Materialien zur Ethik in den Wissenschaften; 21. ISBN: 978-3-935933-20-9.

Schelenz, Laura (2022): Diversity Concepts in Computer Science and Technology Development: A Critique. In Science, Technology, & Human Values. DOI:

Schelenz, Laura (2022): Artificial Intelligence Between Oppression and Resistance: Black Feminist Perspectives on Emerging Technologies. In Ariane Hanemaayer (Ed.): Artificial Intelligence and Its Discontents. Cham: Springer International Publishing (Social and Cultural Studies of Robots and AI), pp. 225–249.

Schelenz, Laura; Vondermaßen, Marcel (2022): Diversity, Identity, Oppression: The Construction of “Blackness” in Dear White People. In Open Philosophy 5 (1), pp. 44–56. DOI: 10.1515/opphil-2020-0171.

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.

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.



”Diskriminierung durch KI vermeiden: ethisch-feministische Ansätze für ein verantwortungsvolles Design von Technik” [Preventing discrimination by Artificial Intelligence: ethical and feminist approaches to responsible design], gws-Forum, 22 February 2024.

”Diversität und Diskriminierung”, 28. Kasseler Jugendsymposion ”KI, echt?”, [Diversity and Discrimination at the 28th Youth symposium Kassel], 16 December 2023.

“Barriers of Inclusion: A ‘Diversity-aware’ Chatbot for Afghan Refugee Women in Germany”, IZEW Collquium, University of Tübingen, 24 February 2023.

“The Politics of Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in Technology Development”, Workshop Understanding the Politics of Contemporary Technologies, International Criminological Research Unit, University of Liverpool, 27 October 2022.“Social Justice Designs for Alternative Futures? The Potential and Limits of Black Feminist Diversity-aware Technology”. European Feminist Research Conference, University of Milano-Bicocca, 17 June 2022.

“Reducing Bias through Contextualization: Diversity-aware Technology from a Black Feminist Perspective.” BIAS Conference, University of Hannover, 9 October 2021.

“Diversity by Design: Balancing Protection and Inclusion in Social Networks.” AITHICS 2021 workshop at the German Conference on Artificial Intelligence (KI2021), 27 September 2021.

“Diversity-aware Recommendations for Social Justice? Exploring User Diversity and Fairness in Recommender Systems.” Fair UMAP Workshop @ ACM UMAP 2021, 25 June 2021.

“Diversity-aware Technology: a Concept and Method for Social Justice-Oriented Design.” Lecture, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark, 21 April 2021.

“Diversity-aware Technology: a Concept and Method for Increased Social Justice in Computer Systems.” Know-Dive Seminar at the University of Trento, Italy, 4 November 2020.

“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.


Ph.D. Thesis

Diversity, Technology, Power: An American Black Feminist Approach to Studying and Designing Diversity in Relation to Contemporary Technologies

Completed December 6, 2023

The dissertation critically examines diversity concepts and norms that are applied in computer science and technology development. Due to well-known problems with discrimination through artificial intelligence and other technologies, diversity is increasingly being incorporated into technology development. This sounds good at first, but is this approach always beneficial? Drawing on Black Feminist theory, the dissertation criticizes the fact that computer science uses binary and flat concepts of diversity (e.g. male vs. female). Cases such as facial recognition, personalization and recommendation systems, and the design of a European platform show that an unreflective approach to diversity can promote rather than minimize discrimination. The dissertation presents ways in which diversity can be (historically) contextualized and incorporated into technology development in a reflective manner. It contains recommendations for computer scientists, but is also relevant for policymakers and users of 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