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Meet the MLA ’24 Presenters of Data Equity: Exploring What It Is and Why It Matters

Navigating Research Data Together: Librarians, Researchers, and Students Symposium

In the weeks leading up to MLA ’24 in Portland, we’re profiling the experts leading each of the symposium sessions by sharing their answers to questions about themselves and their session. We continue the series with the presenters of Data Equity: Exploring What It Is and Why It Matters, Nicole Contaxis (NC), and Aileen Duldulao (AD).

Join them for their session on Sunday, May 19, 2024, 1:30-2:45 p.m., pacific time. The session will be streamed live. To learn about all the Symposium sessions and their presenters, please see the Symposium Session Schedule.

What are you most looking forward to seeing/eating/experiencing in Portland?

AD: I live in Portland. I love gardens and plants in general, and I highly recommend the International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, and Lan Su Chinese Garden – all close to downtown. The Grotto, which is a Catholic shrine, is also beautiful, and you don’t have to be religious to enjoy it. If you have a car, driving through the Gorge and visiting Multnomah Falls is also recommended. Of course, PDX is a foodie paradise. Right now I love Cheese & Crack for their eclectic and seasonal sundaes.

NC: I’m really looking forward to trying out some of Portland’s famous pizza!

What’s a fun or surprising fact about data equity?

AD: Sad fact: Despite the vast amounts of data being generated and collected all over the world, significant portions of the population are systematically excluded or misrepresented from the benefits of data.

Fun fact: Many communities that are excluded from or misrepresented by dominant data sets are finding creative ways to empower themselves and others by engaging in community-driven data collection, analyses, and dissemination.

NC: While not a fun, sad, or surprising fact, one of my favorite books that covers data equity is Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology.

How did you get started in your field?

AD: My background and training is in social work and social welfare. I did my PhD in social welfare, but all of my methods training was in epidemiology. I served as the Maternal Child Health epidemiologist for Multnomah County for about 9 years, which is when I started to do work on data equity and data decolonization in partnership with the Native, Filipino, and Pacific Islander communities. My current work at the Oregon Health Authority centers on disaggregating demographic data, which is a key foundation of data equity in public health.

How did you get started in librarianship?

NC: During my undergraduate years, I worked in the university library. After bouncing around jobs for a few years, I decided that was my favorite job and sent myself off to graduate school.

What’s the main thing you want participants to take away from your session?

AD: Data equity cannot occur in isolation. It can only happen within institutions, programs, and among staff that are doing the difficult and uncomfortable work of ensuring equity in all facets of their work.

NC: I’d like participants to leave with the ability to pinpoint data equity issues in their own work and an understanding of strategies to mitigate those issues.

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