Tuesday 12pm, 8 November 2016

Dillahunt tawanna

Investigating Opportunities for Information and Communication Technologies to Address the Employment Needs of Underserved Populations

Tawanna Dillahunt

Assistant Professor - University of Michigan


Today’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have transformed the way individuals communicate and exchange information, knowledge, and ideas. They also provide us with an impressive range of new opportunities. ICTs now support online job creation, payment, and new opportunities to create technologies to address one of society’s most pressing problems—unemployment. However, ICTs have done little to support individuals without the knowledge, skills or experience to participate in these online venues. The benefits of employment technologies, like other valuable resources, are unequally distributed and provide limited advantages for certain populations in our society. Without an understanding of this vicious cycle, the same inequalities that occur offline will be repeated in online contexts. In this presentation, I will discuss the results of several studies aimed to explore how ICTs could lead to employment, particularly among job seekers from low socio-economic areas. My findings contribute new principles to foster innovations such as the sharing economy among these populations as well as identify barriers for technologists to address in the future. I conclude with a discussion of one of our current innovations designed to address specific employment needs, such as the ability to have one’s resume reviewed and access to interview feedback within these populations.


Tawanna is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and holds a courtesy appointment with the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. Tawanna received her Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from Carnegie Mellon University. She also holds a M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon, a M.S. in Computer Science from the Oregon Graduate Institute School of Science and Engineering at the Oregon Health and Science University, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. In collaboration with colleagues, Tawanna uses human-centered design approaches, and research from multiple disciplines (i.e., psychology, ubiquitous computing, law, sociology, economics, design, and health) to explore the ways in which technology can be used to solve real-world problems, particularly among disadvantaged communities.