As is the case with design, one of the most dangerous misconceptions people can have about technology is to assume that it is neutral. In a world where digital tools have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible, a new project by Superrr Lab is here to peel back the curtains. Together with activists, educators and designers from around the world, they have developed a set of Feminist Tech Principles, along with a treasure trove of resources for building more just and inclusive digital futures.
The principles were drafted in a collaborative process which centred the experiences of cis and trans women, trans men, and non-binary people in the arts, science, tech, journalism, and activism. ‘By taking a feminist approach we were able to think and see beyond existing stories and structures,’ explains the team in a statement. Through this lens, they were able to examine where current technologies are doing people more harm than good, and to propose alternative ways of thinking about innovation and progress.
The resulting 12 principles are a must-read for any individual, company or government institution looking to make more informed decisions, plans, or visions when it comes to technology. Each principle is supported by insights into the status quo, and a good practice example of people or organisations already working on the topic in a feminist way. Some points focus on global issues in the tech industry, like cheap labour and disinformation, while others hone in on interpersonal matters like consent and privacy. Many deal with how values like maintenance, accessibility, openness and care could be nurtured and amplified in the very design of our digital worlds.
A few principles as seen on the website. See the full list here.
TRY IT YOURSELF
To make the Feminist Tech Principles more tangible to a wider audience, Superrr Lab have also launched a Feminist Tech Card Deck that can be downloaded for free from their website. Designed as conversation starters, each card features a quote and critical prompts connected to the 12 principles. The card deck can be used in groups — where people pull a card and then share the answers to their questions with the other players — or it can also be used alone. It’s intended to help people to explore the principles, engage in discussion with others and broaden the discourse around intersectionality and design.
Over the next few months, Superrr Lab will be developing these principles towards an extended Feminist Tech Policy that can be used to build a healthier internet that is safe for all groups in society. If you’re interested in sharing feedback or contributing to the project, please visit feministtech.org.