TU Wien Informatics

Best Paper Award at MuC 2022: Sabrina Burtscher & Katta Spiel

  • 2022-09-08
  • Excellence

Sabrina Burtscher, Katta Spiel and their team won the Best Paper Award at the “Mensch und Computer” Conference 2022.

Best Paper Award at MuC 2022: Sabrina Burtscher & Katta Spiel
Picture: Eva Hornecker

Sabrina Burtscher, Katta Spiel, Lukas Daniel Klausner (FH St. Pölten), Manuel Lardelli (University of Graz) and Dagmar Gromann (University of Vienna) won the MuC Best Paper Award for their paper “Es geht um Respekt, nicht um Technologie”: Erkenntnisse aus einem Interessensgruppen-übergreifenden Workshop zu genderfairer Sprache und Sprachtechnologie” (It’s about respect, not about technology. Findings from a cross-stakeholder workshop on genderfair language and language technology.).

The “Mensch und Computer” (MuC) conference, launched in 2001, is the largest conference series on human-computer interaction in Europe. MuC offers participants from science and industry a platform for contributions and discussions on innovative forms of interaction between people and digital technology, on human-centered development methods, interactive applications, and other topics in the field between users, teams, and communities on the one hand and information and communication technologies used on the other hand. The aim of the conference is to discuss innovative research results, to promote the exchange of information between academia and practitioners, to stimulate research activities and training, and to sensitize science, practice, and the public to the relevance of human- and task-oriented technology design. Mainly English-language technical papers and their publication in the “ACM Digital Library” or Digital Library of the GI promote the worldwide visibility of the scientific results of MuC’22.


With the increasing attention non-binary people receive in Western societies, strategies of gender-fair language have started to move away from binary (only female/male) concepts of gender. Nevertheless, hardly any approaches to take these identities into account into machine translation models exist so far. A lack of understanding of the socio-technical implications of such technologies risks further reproducing linguistic mechanisms of oppression and mislabelling. In this paper, we describe the methods and results of a workshop on gender-fair language and language technologies, which was led and organised by ten researchers from TU Wien, St. Pölten UAS, FH Campus Wien and the University of Vienna and took place in Vienna in autumn 2021. A wide range of interest groups and their representatives were invited to ensure that the topic could be dealt with holistically. Accordingly, we aimed to include translators, machine translation experts and non-binary individuals (as “community experts”) on an equal footing. Our analysis shows that gender in machine translation requires a high degree of context sensitivity, that developers of such technologies need to position themselves cautiously in a process still under social negotiation, and that flexible approaches seem most adequate at present. We then illustrate steps that follow from our results for the field of gender-fair language technologies so that technological developments can adequately line up with social advancements.

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