Gender HCI, Feminist HCI, Post-Colonial Computing, Anti-Oppressive Design, and Design Justice

Jon Pincus
Dec 7, 2016 · 11 min read
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Emma Willard’s Temple of Time (1846)
  • Feminist HCI is concerned with the design and evaluation of interactive systems that are imbued with sensitivity to the central commitments of feminism — agency, fulfillment, identity and the self, equity, empowerment, diversity, and social justice.
  • Post-colonial Computing centers on the questions of power, authority, legitimacy, participation, and intelligibility in the contexts of cultural encounter, particularly in the context of contemporary globalization
  • Intersectional HCI is a framework for engaging with the complexity of users’ and authors’ identities, and situating these identities in relation to their contextual surroundings.
  • Anti-oppressive design “considers both the values embedded in technological design and the environment that surrounds how a technology is built and researched.”
  • Design justice focuses on the ways that design reproduces, is reproduced by, and/or challenges the matrix of domination (white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and settler colonialism), and is also a growing social movement

Gender HCI

Dr. Margaret Burnett’s Open Lecture from the IT University of Copenhagen.

Feminist HCI

Justine Cassell’s Storytelling as a nexus of change in the relationship between gender and technology: a feminist approach to software design,(1998) suggests principles of a feminist approach to software design

  • Value subjective and experiential knowledge in the context of computer use
  • Allow use by many different kinds of users in different contexts
  • Give the user a tool to express her voice and the truth of her existence
  • Encourage collaboration among users
Casey Fiesler at CHI16
(the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
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Emma Willard, Temple of Time (1846)

Post-colonial Computing

Lilly Irani, Janet Vertesi, Paul Dourish, Kavita Philip, and Rebecca E. Grinter’s 2010 paper Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development describes postcolonial computing as “an alternative sensibility to the process of design and analysis.” It asserts a series of questions and concerns inspired by the conditions of postcoloniality but relevant to any design project. The authors suggest four shifts in approach: generative models of culture, development as a historical program, uneven economic relations, and cultural epistemologies. 2012's Postcolonial computing a tactical survey is a good companion piece, focusing on tactics for “rereading, rewriting, or reimagining” hegemonic forms of computing.

ACM: Residual Mobilities: Infrastructural Displacement and Post-Colonial Computing in Bangladesh
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Mukurtu logo

Intersectional HCI

Ari Schlesinger, W. Keith Edwards, and Rebecca E. Grinter’s Intersectional HCI: Engaging Identity through Gender, Race, and Class includes a meta-review of identity representation in the CHI proceedings and finds that “previous identity-focused research tends to analyze one facet of identity at a time. Further, research on ethnicity and race lags behind research on gender and socio-economic class.” The authors recommend for “incorporating intersectionality in HCI research broadly, encouraging clear reporting of context and demographic information, inclusion of author disclosures, and deeper engagement with identity complexities.”

Morgen Brommell, Imagining Radical Queer Futures Through Tech

Anti-oppressive design and design justice

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Anti-oppressive design: from theory to praxis
Map of the Unitied states with hundreds of orange circles on it
Map of the Unitied states with hundreds of orange circles on it
Torn Apart / Separados visualization of locations of ICE facilities across the US


A Change Is Coming

Software, culture, social computing, diversity, and more

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