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Power Relations

Researchers and developers should be aware of the power relations in their research and application fields. Projects should seek the empowerment of all stakeholders (irrespective of race, gender, educational or financial background) as active equal contributors. How is the planned project embedded in power structures and what impact will this have on the end results or product? Gender and diversity aspects – among others – determine where people are allocated, what jobs and responsibilities they have, how well they are paid and how socially secure they live. Access to technologies, resources and work tools depends on these aspects, too. This should be reflected in research and development projects.

Reflection questions

  • Do we work for social change? Or do we want to advance the status quo?
  • Gender-specific distribution of work, unequal pay, and social inequalities reflect power relations. An analysis of such aspects in our field might broaden our research perspective.
  • To what extent do the various persons or groups involved have a say in our research and development process?
  • External conditions can affect different people in different ways, e.g., jogging at night may be more dangerous for a Black trans woman; budget cuts or instability in health care may adversely affect persons with lesser income – how do we take that into account?
  • Which of our technologies or procedures may bear particular risks for certain groups?
  • On what basis do we take decisions about concepts?
  • Whose requirements do we follow?
  • How transparent is our decision process for others?
  • What degree of significance will we attribute to test results?
  • How much effort do we consider acceptable for product revisions?