Diversity and Inclusion: Reflections from GWHT on our Journey Towards Anti-Racism

Part 4

Over the past few months, the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies (GWHT) has been hosting bi-weekly conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion in STEM, at Duke, and within our lab.

In preparation for our latest discussion, we read two articles. The first is titled, “How a Popular Medical Device Encodes Racial Bias.” It discusses inconsistencies in the readings of a pulse oximeter between patients of different races.

The pulse oximeter (pulse ox) is used to read blood oxygen levels. Source: Quartz

The second article we read, “Racial bias skews algorithms widely used to guide care from heart surgery to birth, study finds,” discusses how widely-used healthcare algorithms commonly result in Black patients not receiving the same medical attention as their white peers.

These articles inspired us to ask ourselves some tough questions about our own technologies. We have included some quotes from our discussion surrounding these articles. It is our hope that these questions can be helpful to you and your lab as well.

Where do you think racial biases in healthcare algorithms/devices come from?

Can you think of anywhere in our lab’s research (i.e devices, algorithms, etc.) where there might be opportunity for racial bias to exist?

How do you think we could begin going about avoiding these biases in our work?

Source: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

In our previous discussions, we were mostly discussing racism in STEM in a broad context. This week, we focused the conversation on our own research and device/algorithm development, and the steps we can take to avoid furthering racial disparities in our work.

We want to hear about how your labs are addressing racial biases in technology. Leave a comment or email us at gwht@duke.edu.

Read more in our series, “Diversity and Inclusion: Reflections from GWHT on our Journey Towards Anti-Racism.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Innovate with passion, deliver with compassion. www.DukeGWHT.org