Why Does This Site Matter?

Analyzing My Original Project

Because I was satisfied with my mini project submissions this semester, I decided to extend upon my “unpaper” project to give it a world outside of its YouTube link. My original project is a film in two parts: the first reflects on negative stereotypes of women entering male-dominated professional fields, while the second is an uplifting message of how women in the workplace can make companies more successful. My goal was to redefine the stigmas women face in certain fields and question why some roles (occupations?) like software engineer(s) and event planner(s) are so gendered. I juxtapose the black-and-white, hyper-edited first part to the natural, raw footage of the second. Thus I present real women doing work, yet they are being mocked by commentaries from people supporting the gendered structures in the workplace.

When Sciebinger wrote Has Feminism Changed Science? in 1999, she stated, “women in industry walked out on their jobs twice as often as women in public and non-profit sectors”[1] for reasons including being excluded from meetings and feeling that they were held to higher critiques than their male coworkers. I used her statistical framework in some of the sound quotes, but a website allows me to express those statistics through links and images, unlike my film.

Though it has been seventeen years since Sciebinger wrote her piece, people still critique women’s work differently than men’s. Even accomplished scholars like Michael Hoskin write about women as though they are merely assistants to their male partners; Hoskin minimalizes Caroline Herschel’s work, even though she was the first women to be recognized for her scientific achievements.[2] Most of her credit, however, went to her brother. I find Herschel’s problem alive and well in today’s world, considering females tend to have male bosses, especially in the tech industry. I hope to imply that both men and women should want to change these stereotypes. Ultimately, women in the workplace lead to higher success rates and overall more diverse work atmospheres. The presence of both male and female negative voices in the film convey that men are not solely behind these issues; it is a structure and a culture that both men and women have fostered.

The downfall of my “unpaper” project was that I didn’t include enough film clips about intersectionality. Callapez and Silva discuss the idea of race and gender intersecting with technology.[3] My film covers the broad spectrum of what women, though typically white women, face in the workplace. My website allows me to support the shortcomings of my film on intersectionality, providing links specifically dealing with race and socioeconomic status. I have added a few links to the Research page specifically dealing with race and socioeconomic status, as well as gender, to make these discussions possible. The presence of a monitored community forum allows people to share their stories and perspectives my website’s topics. The goal of my project is to build a diverse community around my film and around the issues of gender and technology in the workplace.

 

[1] Londa Schiebinger, Has Feminism Changed Science? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 61.

[2] Michael Hoskin, “Caroline Herschel as observer,” Journal of History of Astronomy (2005), 373-406.

[3] Maria Elvira Callapez and Vanessa Silva, “Beyond the Academy – Histories of Gender and Knowledge,” Icon 20, No. 2 (2014), 166-72.

 

 

Why Does This Site Matter?

Since I decided to build a website for my film, I first had to get acquainted with WordPress and build a user-friendly site. I did not want to talk about women bringing innovations to the workforce and my plans on working in tech without feeling confident in my own project’s presentation. This plays into the stereotype that women have to have perfect methodology in order to be able to critique a male-dominated space, as seen with Ellen Pao and Reddit or Anita Sarkeesian and GamerGate.[1] (I was a little nervous posting all of my personal thoughts about feminism and technology to the “toxic technoculture” that is the internet). I learned some new backend coding (likeCSS code to format my WP theme, iFrames, javaScripts, etc) and lots of different plug-ins to make this site look professional and user-friendly. I have built a portfolio of my work, both artistic and analytical works, discussing gender in and around the workplace. It serves as a collection of my thoughts and a world for my Feminized Workspace film. I wanted a platform to question and change the stigmas that do not respect women in technological fields, something that allows me to cite research about the gender pay gap as well as link TedTalks about the mob culture of the tech world.

Something that a website does well that a film cannot is interactivity. I had to find new ways to approach the viewer. I have added a forum component, so that people can react to the themes of my site and have the discussions that I hoped to start. Another new interaction finds its grounding in the idea of implicit biases that people have towards gender. Much like de Jardins’ separate spheres argument in The Madame Curie Complex, people typically associate men with the professional world and women with the domestic world.[2] Though many women chose to work outside the home, their professions are still shaped by this lens of critique. The Gender-Career IAT I added to my website allows users to test if they play into this stereotype, even unintentionally, and it provokes the question as to how they could go about changing that. I even have a draft code that I have modified from FLXLab that will run a simplistic version of the IAT. But for more accurate user results, I have the Harvard/Project Implicit test directly on my page.

I also added the timeline from our Gender Tech class, with a new category specific to my site to highlight the historical depth of the gendered patterns I touched on in my film. Unfortunately, I did not get to express how deep in history the trends brought up in my film can be found. Goyal’s piece “Women in Computing” attempts to address the past but also highlights important trends of the present.[3] I thought the addition of an interactive piece on the history of the topics covered in class, as well as a history of women in the workplace, would allow for discussions about the stigmas of gender and tech today originating from a much earlier time than the rise of the digital age.

Overall, I wanted to create a space that speaks with my film in order to build around the ideas of women and the technological workplace. I want to imagine a day where I do not have to feel threatened to put up a website like “Feminist Workspace,” or maybe even a day where my website becomes irrelevant.

 

[1] Adrienna Massanari, “#Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures,” New Media & Society (2015), http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/10/07/1461444815608807.full.

[2] Julie des Jardins, The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science (New York: Feminist Press, 2010), 4.

[3] Amlta Goyal, “Women in Computing: Historical Roles, the Perpetual Glass Ceiling, and Current Opportunities,” Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE 18.3 (1996), 36-42.

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