How to Pair Intersectional Feminism and Technology for a Sustainable Future
How can a sustainable world be achieved? Which unique projects can be contributed by groups that cover knowledge in digitalisation, sustainability, and intersectional feminism? The results of a workshop in which these questions were discussed are presented below.
Transforming our world into a sustainable state takes a broad set of skills. One of them can be found in the technical domain. The Haecksen consists of over 600 women, intersex, non-binary, agender people, and trans men, mostly from German-speaking areas. We include communicators, programmers, scientists, makers, artists, system administrators, among others. Our common goal is a more diverse tech scene and an equitable, and thus sustainable, society.
To pursue our goal, we hosted an envisioning two-hour workshop at the Bits & Bäume 2022 conference. Envisioning workshops are a known starting point in the technology sector to derive a new concept or tool to improve a targeted situation. They are often used when conceptionalising new software. Thus, we invited visitors to envision and explore with us projects that would combine technology, intersectional feminism, and sustainability to help us identify unique areas of contribution for groups like the Haecksen that cover a range of rare capabilities.
The workshop started through a brainstorming activity with all 20 participants to envision projects concerning intersectional feminism, technology, and sustainability. The participants then split into three self-organised groups and created proposals for each of the aforementioned Haecksen sub-communities.
The workshop participants proposed different projects covering climate, democracy, biodiversity, power relations, project design, system change, and communication. In smaller teams, the participants then decided to investigate in more depth three requests from the initial list: ‹Sustainable IT provisioning/Is sustainable digitalisation possible?›, ‹Feminist city planning based on mobility data›, and ‹How to share and use personal sustainability data in a barrier-free way›.
Their results provided further insights into the nature of the project idea in mapping them to the earlier introduced Haecksen teams. In all cases, researching and making the current status of knowledge available to the broader public was requested. A request was also made for data relevant for sustainability to be identified, organised, and structured. Technical support was requested to support administrating software for community networking, hosting homepages, and data. Our makers were asked to develop increasingly sustainable products. Haecksen artists and makers were asked to visualise problematic spaces in the city. The need to create something tangible was clearly stated.
Awareness concepts tend
to be difficult to achieve or
communicate, making spaces
to marginalised groups.
The participants also voiced general pain points: Awareness concepts tend to be difficult to achieve or communicate, making spaces less accessible to marginalised groups. The urgency of the current environmental and societal changes seems to result in neglecting social and intersectional aspects.
The participants also voiced discontent arising from the perceived difficulty to create socially adequate and inclusive communication infrastructures that fully serve all needs.
Two specific requests should be reconsidered. Participants proposed hackathons as well as blocking critical infrastructure. However, hackathons as intense coding events are often less inclusive. On average, they tend to promote bad software quality and unsustainable practices and normalise psychologically unsafe spaces. Blocking critical infrastructure would block electricity, water, or food supply. Increasing efforts to harden our critical infrastructure against such interference would be more appreciated.
In conclusion, we noticed that the proposals did not include a strong technical request besides pushing hardware and software further towards sustainable sourcing and behaviour. More education in all areas, upskilling, data retrieval, and its visualisation seem to be a general need. At the Haecksen, we strongly empower our members to find their voice and communicate their wishes, opinions, and needs to society in their own, unique way. For some it might be a talk, a podcast episode, a blog entry. For others it might be an artistic expression such as an installation at a specific place, a performance, or images. For yet another group, it might be the commitment to enable more expressive groups to efficiently pursue their projects in providing improved tooling. As such, we see the vision of the Haecksen greatly resonating with the needs of the workshop participants. We are looking forward to see the fruits of this workshop in the next years. Wherever they might appear.
English translations of all original contributions from the workshop participants are accessible under https://www.haecksen.org/events/pairing-intersectional-feminismtechnology-and-sustainability-for-a-sustainable-future-results-from-the-bitsbaume-2022/Next page