Alannah Oleson

HCI + Design + Computing Education.


A sketch of a stick figure person sitting at a desk, writing or drawing. A thought bubble shows they are thinking: bunch of people plus laptop computer equals question mark, intending to signify: humans plus computers equals what?

I'm a PhD candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington, advised by Prof. Amy J. Ko in the Code & Cognition lab.

My research lies in the intersection of human-computer interaction, justice-centered computing education, and software interface design. I explore how we can best teach computing students and software practitioners to create technology that supports all kinds of users, not just those from socially and culturally dominant groups. My work emphasizes inclusive and equitable software design, centering the needs and perspectives of users of marginalized genders, races/ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and other attributes of inclusion that go beyond traditional accessibility considerations.

My pending dissertation work will focus on the design decisions programmers make when creating systems that operate on data about people, such as databases that store demographic information or webforms that request identity information. Supporting programmers with the strategies, tools, and information they need to make more inclusive code-level design decisions may help avoid biased software from the outset and can contribute to a future where everyone can authentically interact with and be represented by the technologies they use.

Prior to attending UW, I was a student at Oregon State University advised by Prof. Margaret Burnett, researching gender-inclusive software design as part of the GenderMag project. I founded the GenderMag-Teach effort to understand the pedagogical content knowledge that university-level educators develop as they teach their students the principles of inclusive software design.

I am a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and formerly an Adobe Research Women-in-Technology scholar.

Quick links: My CV (updated August 2021) | Google Scholar | Medium Blog | Twitter