Technology & Data in service to gender politics

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Initial talking point/question

  • How a technology and/or data and/or datajournalism project could impactfully help social justice challenges in the field of gender politics?


Projects around "percentages-of-women" (in board rooms, in media, in conference speaker line-ups) in various contexts are getting every day more popular. Good, but – there's so much more and time to raise some other issues as well (read: society is much more intersectional than that).

  • How about going beyond gender binary (considering that genders are not only two)?
  • How about disparities and difference of privilege even just among women-identified individuals (white women/ women of color, cisgender women / trans women)?
  • How about getting some voices way more heard (e.g. trans narrative)? How about responsible data in all this (huge issue, connected to both privacy and safety)?

Let's get a discussion going, especially if anyone actively works on any of these topics, to discuss, learn and understand how data and/or tech could really be useful to raise an issue/conduct a research/help fuel an action-for-change. Aiming to have impact.

Discussion kick-off: points raised

There is a lot of technology being built but it is constantly being pushed into communities instead there should be a pull. There is a strong cultural background in different communities and we must think about it in regards to technology. For Example:

  • In Japan there is a lot of groping and there is this website that allows people to note instances of harassment via geolocation mapping
  • In Egypt there was a lot a project called HarassMap where they used Ushahidi's tools to track instances of sexual harassment.

We must recognize how we use tools are not in a vacuum, but to always ask those questions about how they are used and who it is for?

Data can often be very dangerous and interpreted wrong- communities should often be connected with the data sets you are working with. It is better to have something grow organically instead of throwing a product into a community.

Group work

  • After an initial discussion, the group decided to start brainstorming key elements to be considered when creating responsible data projects aiming to support marginalized communities/ minorities (including abuse reporting).
  • Participants wrote down all sorts of thoughts on post-its, we identified that certain clusters were emerging and started to put them together.
  • Participants highlighted a key factor of the session: all participants were aware of at least some challenges of the topic we were trying to flesh out. So why not using the clusters identified to feed the creation of a toolkit, to be shared with others (especially with individuals and groups who might have not encountered this challenges in their work yet).
  • Goal: co-create a useful guideline for whoever works with tech/data projects serving specific communities, using tech and data responsibly and ethically.
  • Identified clusters [please note that the following notes record the work done in the session but not yet represent a post-session re-work of the material. That will come soon!]:

Problem Identification

  • Needs to be grounded in a locally identified need
  • First understand the problems before jumping into it.
  • Identify the voices that need to be heard


  • Partnering with community already doing the work
  • Self-Awareness of your identities and how they relate to the issue at hand
  • Working with certain communities to build the data and think about their access
  • Include community partners throughout the whole process


  • Data Security
  • Privacy
  • Thinking about the Data and where it is coming from
  • Data is not god
  • Validating and Verification of Data
  • Data Ownership


  • Start with clearly defining what problem you are trying to solve
  • Working with organizations on the ground- being aware of your privilege
  • Asking and listening
  • Who are you speaking to? How do we want them to engage?
  • History Lesson
  • Self-awareness of the history of your identities in relation to the users you’re targeting
  • Broaden the idea of what “tech” can be (ie “low-tech” solutions where applicable)
  • imagining what success looks like – have a theory of change
  • make the final project useful and meaningful to community
  • engaging allies

Program Management

  • Accessibility for who benefits
  • Has there already been legacy projects for what you are working on ?
  • Defining what success looks like
  • Who created the technology?
  • Who is maintaining it?
  • Be flexible enough to change the project design to reflect community needs and goals


  • Success stories
  • Providing resources/training if needed so communities have the access to building their own tools
  • empowering marginalized people
  • how can capacity be left behind when the project is over


  • Intersectional analysis/frame
  • being aware of the different cultural backgrounds/narratives
  • needs to account for context/culture and access
  • Diversity is more than one thing (not just gender, race)
  • centering experiences of marginalized folks esp trans women of color
  • cultural differences in gender politics

New Session Title

Responsible Data Storytelling

Post-session plan

The group aims to keep working on the toolkit.