Published: Aug. 28, 2023

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Maria L. Pacheco worked with other organizers from Queer in AI to write "Queer In AI: A Case Study in Community-Led Participatory AI", which was recognized at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAccT) as Best Paper. 

Q+A with Maria L. Pacheco

What is Queer in AI? 

Queer in AI is a global, decentralized, grassroots organization that aims to raise awareness of queer issues in AI/ML, foster a community of queer researchers and celebrate the work of queer scientists. 

What do you do as a group? 

We hold conference workshops, social meetups, conference poster sessions, mentoring programs, graduate application financial aid and many other initiatives. Another crucial part of our mission is to raise awareness of queer issues in the general AI community and to encourage and highlight research on and solutions to these problems.

The group is made by more than 500 folks that communicate through the Queer in AI slack. Our slack consists of dedicated channels for organizing, research, advice, announcements, and discussion of many topics. The slack is open to everyone, and folks come together organically to organize events, and spearhead established and new initiatives.

How did this paper come about? What was the inspiration? 

We wanted to present our organization as a case study for community-led participatory design and examine how decentralized organizing and intersectional tenets started and shaped our programs over the last six years. 

We wanted to reflect on our main initiatives, the main challenges that we have encountered, examine our impact, and discuss ways in which we can improve. We believe that our experience can be valuable to both researchers of participatory methods, as well as other grass-root organizations and community-led initiatives.

What about this experience are you most proud of? 

 This paper was a huge collective effort from many of our members. The list of authors reflects all the folks who have organized and volunteered for Queer in AI at any point in time. I am very proud of the way many of these folks came together to examine and reflect on our trajectory in this paper. I feel very fortunate to be a (small) part of this, but there were very many amazing folks driving the paper writing effort who deserve all the recognition!  

 If folks are looking to get involved in Queer in AI, how should they connect? 

Folks can join our slack by emailing queerinai [at] gmail [dot] com with a small intro and with the subject 'Queer in AI slack join request'. In the slack, there are dedicated channels for the different initiatives. 

We have a lot of opportunities to get involved, and folks are very friendly and open.