Data Feminism

by | Jul 16, 2020 | Change, ICT4D

Digital transformation is often narrowly understood as shifting non-digital or manual processes to digital ones. The simplest example being doing data collection using a digital form on a phone instead of a paper form on a clipboard. Unfortunately digital transformation often encodes all the inequality, bias and power imbalances of the non-digital processes into the digital processes. And makes them worse.

As Bill Gates says, ‘Digital exponentially increases efficiency in already efficient systems AND it exponentially increases inequality in already unequal systems.’

Digital transformation is an opportunity for so much more. Digital is much more than just the technology. It is about business processes, people, culture, and about governance, ethics, and worldview.

In their excellent book, Catherine and Lauren outline principles of Data Feminism.

These 7 principles could be and should be applied to any digital project and technology project.

  1. Examine Power
  2. Challenge Power
  3. Elevate Emotion and Embodiment
  4. Rethink Binaries and Hierarchies
  5. Embrace Pluralism
  6. Consider Context
  7. Make Labour Visible

Exploring these principles in our work helps us surface significant issues in our approaches. And the provide us with an opportunity for change, for doing something different. They help us move beyond the shiny toy or technology theatre and into the discussions that matter.

If we would apply these principles to our work, we’d truly achieve digital transformation.

The choice is up to us.


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