Feminism and Interaction Design Workshop at CHI2011

About the Workshop

Feminist HCI has recently been proposed as a cross disciplinary area of research that combines feminist thinking with the concerns of human computer interaction as a field (Bardzell, 2010). At this stage, however, “feminist HCI” remains a promising, yet underdeveloped term.

We argue that feminism and HCI are on converging trajectories. In this workshop, we will invite participants to reflect on this point. We wish to explore the fact that, while feminism and HCI have made important contributions to social science in the past several decades, it is only recently that feminism and HCI have been more directly connected. HCI’s so-called “cultural turn” has opened the field to issues that have been central to feminism–issues such as agency, identity, subjectivity, sociability, experience, cultural difference, and social change and even activism (Bardzell, 2009; DiSalvo, 2009; Dourish, 2006; Light et al, 2010). To address such issues, HCI has borrowed and innovated on research and design epistemologies and methodologies from a wide range of sources, including the humanities (e.g., McCarthy and Wright, 2004). Simultaneously, feminist thinking, whose origins were originally within the humanities, has moved in recent decades steadily into the social sciences, contributing to social science’s philosophy, methodologies, and methods (e.g., Reinharz, 1992; Sprague, 2005). In the past two decades feminism has also become part of the discourse within the fields of computer supported cooperative work and sociotechnical design (Haraway, 1989; Star, 1991; Suchman, 2009; Suchman & Jordan, 1989).

This workshop is aimed at examing the potential overlap of feminist thinking and HCI. Exploring, clarifying, and consolidating efforts that combine HCI and feminism will take a community effort. Additionally, understanding how to use feminist concepts, theories, and social scientific methodologies in support of the design of new technology products and services will require the creation and documentation of successful exemplars. We propose this workshop as one mechanism through which to bring this emerging community together and to help clarify our research trajectories, to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas, and to encourage new collaborations in this promising space.

Motivation and Goals

The goals of the workshop are as follows:

  • Create actionable opportunities for design using feminist concepts, values, and theories
  • Reflect on the methodological implications of practicing feminist interaction design, both philosophical and practical
  • Identify obstacles that inhibit research and design in this area

Workshop Themes

The workshop will focus integrating feminism and design processes:

  • How do we use feminist theory and constructs to discover design opportunities?
  • What do the six qualities proposed by Bardzell (Bardzell, 2010) mean for interaction designers? Are there cases, applications, or problems that enable us as a community to better understand and design for these qualities?
  • How can designers integrate abstract concepts, such as feminist design qualities, with reasonably well defined stakeholder needs; empirical user and/or market data; human, technological, and financial resources; and so forth? What is (or what should be) that relationship?
  • How do we evaluate whether a design process or product is successful in its feminist aspirations? Is evaluation just a judgment, or are there measures? Who gets to perform this judgment, anyway?


Bardzell, J. Interaction criticism and aesthetics. Proc. of CHI’09, ACM Press (2009), 2357-2366.

Bardzell, S. Feminist HCI: Taking stock and outlining an agenda for design. Proc. of CHI’10. ACM Press: New York (2010), 1301-1310.

DiSalvo, C. Design and the construction of publics. Design Issues 25, 1 (2009), 48-63.

Dourish, P. Where the Action is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. MIT Press, 2006.

Haraway, D. A Manifesto for Cyborgs. In Simians, cyborgs, and women: the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge. Originally published in Socialist Review (1985) 80: 65-108.

Light, A., Kleine, D and Vivent, M. Performing Charlotte: A tool to bridge cultures in participatory design. International Journal of Sociotechnology and Knowledge Development, 2, 1 (2010).

McCarthy, J. and Wright, P. Technology as Experience. The MIT Press, 2004.

Reinharz, S. Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford UP, 1992.

Sprague, J. Feminist Methodologies for Critical Researchers: Bridging Differences. AltaMira Press, 2005.

Rothschild, J. Design and Feminism: Re-Visioning Spaces, Places, and Everyday Things. Rutgers UP, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London, 1999.

Star, S. L. (1991) Invisible Work and Silenced Dialogues in Knowledge Representation. In Women, Work and Computerization, eds. I. Eriksson,B. Kitchenham, and K. Tijdens, K., 8 1-92. Amsterdam: North Holland.

Suchman. L. Agencies in Technology Design: Feminist Reconfigurations. (2009).

Suchman, L., and Jordan, B. (1989) Computerization and Women’s Knowledge. In Women, Work and Computerization, eds. K. Tijdens, M. Jennings, I. Wagner and M. Weggelaar, 153-160. Amsterdam: North Holland.

For a more complete description of this workshop, please refer to our extended abstract.


Written by sbardzell

November 27, 2010 at 4:51 am

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