Data Feminism

Event Start Date: January 26, 2021 4:00 PM
Event End Date: January 26, 2021 5:30 PM


Data Feminism
4:00pm Tuesday January 26th, 2021
Virtual Event – Preregister Here to Receive Zoom URL

As data are increasingly mobilized in the service of governments and corporations, their unequal conditions of production, asymmetrical methods of application, and unequal effects on both individuals and groups have become increasingly difficult for data scientists – and others who rely on data in their work – to ignore. But it is precisely this power that makes it worth asking: Data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind? These are some of the questions that emerge from what we call data feminism, a way of thinking about data science and its communication that is informed by the past several decades of intersectional feminist activism and critical thought. Illustrating data feminism in action, this talk will show how challenges to the male/female binary can help to challenge other hierarchical (and empirically wrong) classification systems. It will explain how an understanding of emotion can expand our ideas about effective data visualization, how the concept of invisible labor can expose the significant human efforts required by our automated systems, and why the data never, ever “speak for themselves.” The goal of this talk, as with the project of data feminism broadly, is to model how scholarship can be transformed into action: how feminist thinking can be operationalized in order to imagine more ethical and equitable data practices.

Catherine D’Ignazio (@kanarinka) is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. With Rahul Bhargava, she built the platform, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her forthcoming book Data Feminism from MIT Press, co-authored with Lauren Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation,, and the Knight Foundation and have been exhibited at the Venice Biennial and the ICA Boston. D’Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity, particularly in relation to space and place. For more information, visit