Public:Session 3

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Session 3: Technological infrastructures

Topic outline & prep infos

  • Sat, 11 May 2019, 11:00–16:00
  • HS 11

In this session we will take a closer look on technology and technological infrastructures and how gender and other social factors figure in all of that. As entry point for our discussions we use a topic that gains increasing attention within science and society: the power of algorithms (and those who make them). In a broader sense we will discuss how different perspectives on life and society influence our understanding and interactions (with each other and with machines). A central question is how the design of technologies is in turn influenced by the desire to mediate our interactions.

We will then take a closer look on how gender and technology are in certain kind co-produced - they can reinforce each other, but they also have the ability to change each other. This could be seen as a leverage point in hacking gender and hacking technology. But even the acts, arts and performances of hacking are often highly gendered.

Required preparation

Guiding questions for the required preparation:

  • How are specific perspectives embedded in algorithms and systems of artificial intelligence?
  • What consequences are there for everyone as willing (or unwilling) users of search engines and other ubiquitous technological infrastructures?
  • Are there similar ways of how power is embedded in other technological artefacts or in scientific knowledge as it is in this example of AI and algorithms?
  • How neutral and objective can technological artefacts and infrastructures be? Is there a difference to how neutral and objective scientific knowledge can be?

Suggestions for peer teaching

  • Feminist epistemologies:
    • Collins, P. H. (1989). The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 14(4), 745–773.
    • Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspectives. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599. (also available as: Haraway, D. (2001). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspectives. In M. Lederman & I. Bartsch (Eds.), The gender and science reader (pp. 169–188). Routledge.)
    • Harding, S. (2001). Feminist Standpoint Epistemology. In M. Lederman & I. Bartsch (Eds.), The Gender and Science Reader, (pp. 145–68). Routledge.
  • Inscriptions of masculinity and patriarchy into technology
    • Isn’t science and technology a neutral thing? Doesn’t it just depend on how we use it? Or are concepts and tools of technoscience already tailored towards a certain framing of the world and the relations within? How masculine and patriarchal is technology and could it be otherwise?
    • Green, E. (2001). Virtual Gender: Technology, Consumption, and Identity. Routledge.
      • Linda Stepulevage: Becoming a technologist: days in a girl’s life. 63-83
      • Maria Lohan: Men, masculinities and ‘mundane’ technologies: the domestic telephone. 189-206
    • Lie, M., & Corneliussen, H. (2003). He, She and IT Revisited: New Perspectives on Gender in the Information Society. Gyldendal.
      • Helen Jøsok Gansmo, Vivian A. Lagesen, Knut H. Sørensen: Forget the hacker? A critical re-appraisal of Norwegian studies of gender and ICT. 34-68
      • Tova Håpnes, Bente Rasmussen: Gendering Technology. Young girls negotiating ICT and gender. 173-197
    • Wajcman, J. (2004). TechnoFeminism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    • Wajcman, J. (2007). From women and technology to gendered technoscience. Information Communication and Society, 10(3), 287–298.
  • Gender and sex (re)inscribed into bodies and (modern) medical theories and practices
    • How much has gender to do with our bodies and our understanding of bodies? Is there such a thing as a “biological sex” and if so, how does it figure? What influence have personal backgrounds of scientists on how models of sex and gender are created?
    • Schiebinger, L. (1986). Skeletons in the Closet: The First Illustrations of the Female Skeleton in Eighteenth-Century Anatomy. Representations, (14), 42–82.
    • Fausto-Sterling, A. (2000). The five sexes, revisited. The Sciences, 40(4), 18–23.
    • Schmitz, S. (2004). Wie kommt das Geschlecht ins Gehirn? Über den Geschlechterdeterminismus in der Hirnforschung und Ansätze zu seiner Dekonstruktion. Forum Wissenschaft, 4/2004, n/a. Online: (2012-08-28).
  • Gendered educational systems as technological replication infrastructure
    • What part plays education in fostering/abolitioning genderd stereotypes of technology and technologists? Is it really the case that girls* and women* are just not as interest in technology as boys* and men* and therefore we have to live with the current gender ratio in tech?
    • Margolis, J., & Fisher, A. (2002). Unlocking the Clubhouse. Women in Computing. Cambridge/London: The MIT Press.
    • Wächter, C. (2003). Technik-Bildung und Geschlecht. Profil Verlag.
    • Knoll, B., & Ratzer, B. (2010). Gender Studies in den Ingenieurwissenschaften (1., Auflage). Facultas Universitätsverlag.