Inclusive design in is: Why diversity matters

Sebastian Olbrich, Eileen M. Trauth, Fred Niederman, Shirley Gregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


After decades of research and ambitious political programs, we still observe imbalances in the treatment of people on the basis of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and social background. Such an issue raises questions about the degree to which information systems can help to overcome such imbalance; for instance, if design principles can be formalized to reshape information systems’ design into a different, more-inclusive direction. We contend that IS falls short in tackling this issue. We took the theme of ICIS 2013 (“reshaping society through information systems”) as an opportunity to reflect on the multiple aspects of social inclusion in the design and the resulting shape of information systems via a panel discussion. The fruitful discussion during the panel delivered more in-depth results than merely advocating a stance for more diversity in the IS workforce. Building on the principles of design science, we believe that our field can help reshape the digital economy. As a key takeaway, the panel and additional points added in this paper in the light of discussion at ICIS 2013 provide guidance on the impact of gender in IS theorizing as a demonstration example and reflect on the trend towards social design in the IS research community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
Pages (from-to)767-782
Number of pages16
JournalCommunications of the Association for Information Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems


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