January 26 at 4:00 pm
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 and how feminist thinking can be operationalized 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 Databasic.io, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her book Data Feminism (2020, MIT Press), co-authored with Lauren F. Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, Turbulence.org, 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.
This event is part of “Part II: Data and Democracy,” a multi-year series that responds to current challenges to rational public debate. Following Part I of the series in 2019-20 entitled “Race and the Promise of Participation,” which examined contemporary institutions that define public life, the 2020-21 speaker series turns to the question of how new technologies and the algorithms underlying ‘big data’ shape human experience, communication, and representation. This year’s talks examine how race and racism, equity and inequality, and gender shape and are produced by technological systems. From drone warfare and corporate data, to surveillance systems and robots, they reveal the human values and ideas embedded in technological advances. Over the course of two semesters, speakers in this series will call us to be thoughtful and deliberate when allowing artificial intelligence entry into our public spaces.
UF Series Funders and Co-Sponsors:
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment); College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Chief Diversity Officer; Informatics Institute; Bob Graham Center for Public Service; Center for Latin American Studies; African American Studies Program; Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research