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Professor's Research Shows Implicit Bias by Institutions

Susan McCarter has one of those personalities that draws one in. Even when she’s giving an academic presentation, the School of Social Work professor is warm, engaging and almost relentlessly cheerful. Still, when she starts talking about her research, her audience — regardless of its size or composition — often becomes visibly uncomfortable.

That’s because McCarter’s subject is always race. She has spent the last 20 years researching and talking about disproportionate minority contacts (DMC), or the over-representation of minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

She readily acknowledges that even the official name for her work tends to make people defensive. "The word 'disproportionality' has taken on a bad connotation, but it only means that things are out of whack mathematically," explained McCarter. "It simply means when a phenomenon doesn’t reflect the population at the time."

Virtual Hackathon to Promote Economic Mobility

Technology can be a force to improve various aspects of a community, and UNC Charlotte is issuing a public challenge for developers to create applications or games to advance a social good.

The UNC Charlotte Data Science Initiative, through its Partnership for Social Good, is sponsoring a virtual hackathon to address economic mobility in the Queen City. Participants will compete for $10,000 in prizes, and their challenge is to create a mobile platform-based application or game that addresses this problem.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, director of the Complex Systems Institute and executive director of the Data Science Initiative, said, "The mission of the Partnership for Social Good is to provide a platform for corporations, government and universities to jointly address issues related to the social good of the community, such as economic mobility. Our vision is that the partnership will be a catalyst for positive, long-lasting change in the society, ultimately making it more just and fair."