Session Title: Feminist Meetup
Date: Sat 25 Mar 2017
Attendees (who was there?):
Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):
Why do we need this meetup/why are people here?
- GOSH has been great but feel like there has not always been enough space to speak and address knowledge assymmetries.
- Really grateful for diversity of GOSH, it has been inspiring and welcoming. Still some behaviour that is exhausting and decapacitating. Would like to share skills for dealing with these behaviours.
- Sharing resources. Often operate in feminist spaces and facilitate technology workshops with a feminist perspective.
- Would like to share experiences . Used to teach game developers and found a lot of barriers to myself and female developers. Bearra Dass ??? wrote about male suppression techniques and I would like to share her work as it opened my eyes to situations I encounter in my life. Seeing how these happen in conversation and relationships we have in tech would be really good.
- Here for resources, I would like to come away with actions for GOSH to lift the voices of women. Would like the session to be more important to wide range of GOSH participants.
- I found out about women’s rights unintentionally through job in women’s rights organsation. having come from a conflict-ridden, secluded and orthodox background. Connecting with feminism made a lot of sense out of own life and also how my actions and decisions affect myself and others. Connecting the women’s movement to science and technology is now focus. After 10 years, realised that every time you connect with the people affected by inequity there is openness and willingness but connecting with academia and industry there is a wall and . Feel blocked and want to find more strategies and actionable plans on how to bring the discussion together as a need within the science and tech community.
- I was surprised that there were 51% invited women (*see note on GOSH demographics), it didn’t feel like that in sessions. I don’t exist in a very feminist space - I’m frequently the only woman, get invited because I’m a woman and even got pointed to as the woman in a room full of men who were when there should be more women. I have the right to talk but don’t feel welocome Upsetting for my male business partner who would also like to be invited and recognised. Would like to articulate these experiences better and find an alternative to positive discrimination because it makes me feel worthless to be invited just because there is a quota to fill. How do I infiltrate the system, have been having conversations with male relatives where they feel like feminism is an attack against them. How do you get around that?
- I don’t help panels become more palatable, I am a double whammy in terms of being a women and an indigenous person. I now don’t try to teach people who have not self-selected to learn from me. I use words like equity and justice because it is difficult to fight against values like that without looking like. I am very privileged in my work to create and run a feminist space. Strategically, we are expert scientific feminists but we want to build feminist science protocols and I would like to work with other people on that. The movement, getting people on side is important but I want to get to the more involved conversation.
- I create a lot of spaces in science and technology and want them to be more welcoming to women, particularly as a woman. I also work a lot with institutional strategy
- I have been interested in feminism for a very long time and I have a good support network but I will soon need to leave and the likelihood of ending up in a non-feminist space is quite high. I ended
- The culture in my country is quite machoist. I would like to talk about ways in which we can make both men and women conscious of the issues.
- I am interested in feminist epistemologies and ways of knowing. I create spaces where those things are built and exist so I want to understand more.
- Surviving work (and non-feminist spaces)
- Joining up in networks for support & how do we keep up a connection after GOSH
- How do we talk to people about feminism?
- Going deeper and looking at feminist ways of doing science, technology
- Creating spaces that embody feminist spaces: online networks, physical meetings
How do we talk to people about feminism?
Participants mapped out common ground in feminism. People have experienced definitions of feminism that do not match their own values e.g. in India there are different feminist movements, from Dalit to academic to young urban groups.
- No oppression
- Trans-inclusion, including non-binary people. Should be explicit at the start of conversations and might be covered by intersectionality, but at this time given the intentional exclusion of trans-people by several feminists it should be pulled out separately.
- Intersectionality - being cogniscent of various identities: from race to sexual orientation to economic status. Recognising different cultures and histories and using it as a tool to differentiate the different power structures.
- Reflexive - self-aware and continuously questioning views
- Rebellious - take action and take up space rather than being reactive. Hard but important to be the feminist kill-joy.
- Solidarity - humility and realising that you don’t need to understand or get something but be in the trenches and supporting people in the way they want to be supported.
- Anti-essentialism - not tying femininity to anatomical values.
- Non-default - against the status quo, intentional design.
- Not white-centric
- Healing - having a space to talk and explore
- Empowerment through learning - a process in a collective environment
A few values could not be articulated in one word, but in particular for trans experiences there were several points raised about the need to not be reduced to matter, body and skin colour, which can dominate conversation and not raise other aspects of people’s identities and achievements. Also that narratives of victimhood can negatively impact self-identity and confidence. Would be useful to have language that avoids this.
Going deeper and looking at feminist ways of doing science, technology
Creating a feminist microscope
- Ask what it is for and try to design to values like equity, humility, intersectionality. Working with engineers it is possible to do this, you have to train them out of designing for
- e.g. Google books stated mission is to make information universally accessible and useful except its highest good is profit and growth. If the articulated value was the target then you would end up with something like Pirate Bay.
Creating a feminist space
- Infrastructure and communications can be problematic. Identifying design decisions that are non-feminist and calling them out.
- It is much more difficult to create a space online than in person. One paper from a theoretical perspective is Feminist HCI paper.
- Epistemology is a way of creating knowledge, but this is layered (like a lasagna!). At some point you need to trace the provenance of the knowledge (or pasta, zucchini). Goes back to Kant and Kuhn.
- Max said during GOSH that power comes from structures, not people. How do we create structures that are feminist? Without using the term feminist, a lot of values can be used to create a space. GOSH felt like a feminist conference to some attendees, even thought is wasn’t explicitly. Should share strategies now in real space for creating spaces.
Resources to share
- FAT institute link (?)
- FAT introduction to feminist technology
- Notes on a feminist server
- Feminist groups in India - feminist internet document
- FAT is collecting information from illiterate women who use the internet
- Kill-joy manifesto
- Geek feminism wiki
- No Más Bebés (film)
- Notes towards a theory of anomaly, Daniel Heath Justice
- Notes towards a transfeminist technology, Lucia Egaña Rojas
- What’s wrong with tolerance
- Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Creating spaces - strategies from GOSH
- Code of conduct - everyone must sign and it has consequences so that gives you power to act.
- Equitable invitations
- Facilitation 101 - more in-depth is also good, to ensure everyone gets the chance to speak
- Anonymous reporting avenues
- Safety officer
- Start with values - especially when having conversations with people who are not wanting to engage with feminism discussion
- Be a kill-joy
- Self care or collective care - rest corner or dedicated place(s). Acknowledging that women and gender non-conforming people can carry the weight of conversations more heavily.
- Be clear upfront about opportunities for disabled people e.g. wheelchair access, interpreter so they are more likely to apply.
- Have a 101 for self-education about gender, transgender, non-binary and especially pronouns and why they matter e.g. short video.
- Make sure the bathroom details are clear that it is not just ‘more privacy’ but individual, non-gendered stalls. This was mostly reflected on the written instructions but not in the verbal introduction to the space.
- General session on marginalisation and open science hardware to make it a session for everyone, not just self-selected interest group.
- Suggestion of a talk about decolonisation to introduce the topic as it’s mentioned a lot at GOSH but many people will not understand the history.
- Eboo Patel “Sacred Ground”
- “Decolonising Solidarity”
* Explanation for demographics in GOSH 2017
We invited 51% women, the final total was around 45%. This was due to disproportionate cancellations by women in the run-up up the event, visa issues and no-shows. There were a few additional late invitations to locals and also a couple of people who turned up unexpectedly who were all male.
Create an email list network of people in this group, particularly connecting around feminist protocols (in the next year).