While many digital civics projects explore feminist issues, such as Angelika’s work supporting services for sex workers, or the FeedFinder app which supports women who chose to breastfeed in public, human-computer interaction remains a field that can be hostile to women.
To create a supportive and collaborative environment in which to share and raise awareness of feminist issues within HCI, a group of digital civics researchers established fempower.tech. This group of intersectional feminists commits to “being overtly critical and political of the field, giving voice to underrepresented groups and topics, presenting tangible outcomes, and taking on an activist role for this”.
So far fempower.tech members have organised craft sessions, pot luck lunches and the first Double Dabble event, which combined feminist theory with creative activities. The group have also helped to establish the Digital Economy Diversity Network to promote diversity, equality and equity within the Digital Economy Network of PhD researchers. In September Digital Civics will host the first DEDN meeting.
CHI 2017, a major academic conference for human-computer interaction researchers, saw efforts to promote diversity and to turn the conference, held in Denver in the US, into a more feminist-friendly space. #CHIversity was set up by fempower.tech members and included a blog, Twitter discussions and a zine-making workshop, as well fundraising for the Planned Parenthood charity. The #CHIversity organisers also collated a list of papers at the conference that addressed topics of inclusion, feminisms, social justice or diversity, to support this work and make it more visible to CHI attendees.
In their first year fempower.tech have established numerous channels to support women in HCI and raise awareness of issues of feminisms and diversity within the field. From organised events to informal spaces to chat and share ideas, fempower.tech members are exploring new ways of making HCI a more equal and diverse space.
Author: Mark Sleightholm