The Link Between Us: How Technology Can Create (and Impede) Opportunity

February 23, 2022 | 06:00-08:30 Pacific | Virtual Event

Online, statewide & beyond

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Beyond a pandemic marked by ubiquitous digitization and sharpened digital divides, beyond our current demonization and idolization of technology — what will technology look like moving forward? What will be the distinction between “real life” and online? What do we lose from not being in person—and what do we gain?

These are among the questions that Caroline’s workshop will explore. As a public high school student, she has experienced firsthand the stark loss of learning brought about by online education. At the same time, she has been able to connect with countless invaluable opportunities thanks to technology — technology to which millions of Americans still have limited or no access.

Join Caroline as she shares insights from her technological equity research; her journey building digital-first, youth-led organizations; and her lived experiences coming of age in a reality where access to technology means access to the world. As we consider the ways that technology serves as both a barrier to and a source of opportunity, especially for historically marginalized communities, we will look at how we might maximize technology's potential as a driver of equity and social good.

Participants will gain a more profound understanding of what their relationship is with technology and how they can use it to facilitate meaningful relationships. They will come away with knowledge about what technological equity means, how socioeconomic status affects technology usage, and how software accessibility intersects with power and privilege. Using this knowledge, participants will be able to identify and employ strategies for furthering equitable community change through technology.

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About the Presenter:

Caroline Gao is a teen writer, researcher, and organizer based in Albany, Oregon. As a research assistant for Margaret Burnett at Oregon State University, Caroline investigates human-computer interaction through an intersectional equity lens. She primarily explores how socioeconomic status impacts technology experiences, and how technology design can be more inclusive of and accessible to low socioeconomic status people. She has co-authored two papers and has been recognized by the National Center for Women in Technology.

Her passion for technological equity intertwines with her work in cultural advocacy, youth leadership, and community storytelling. During the pandemic, she founded The World in Us, a cultural awareness nonprofit that has facilitated both virtual and in-person programs for youth across 11 countries. She also co-founded Aster Lit, an international youth literary magazine and digital writing community. Additionally, she has worked on community organizing at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and ethical storytelling at Next Up — all in an online setting. Outside of her research and social justice work, she enjoys writing, playing the flute, and learning languages.