Why Don't We Know the 100s of Women Writing About Tech?

When the Los Angeles Review of Books included only one woman writer in its tech issue, the Internet responded with a glorious list of women writers we should all know.
Written by

It’s time to add Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) to the growing list of "Too Many Dudes" award winners. In September, LARB released its tech issue, which included 14 chapters … only one of which was written by a woman. As several people were quick to point out, not only were the bylines male-dominated, but also the coverage in general; none of the male writers covered topics that disproportionately and negatively impact women, shockingly. It was a glaring and embarrassing oversight, but one the Internet quickly corrected.

Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia Siva Vaidhyanathan’s tweet about this oversight, followed swiftly by a letter from Gabriella Coleman, who holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University, among others, helped to serve as a launchpad for suggestions for a fantastic list of women and gender non-conforming writers we should all be paying attention to.


 

 

Coleman, who has written two books on the intersection of the cultures of hacking and politics, wrote a letter directly to LARB about the list’s bias.

“I am excited to read the forthcoming issue on the Digital Revolution recently published in the LARB. I will have to admit, however, I was both surprised and disappointed at the monochromatic list of authors...I found it shocking that most of your featured authors were male,” Coleman wrote in a letter, which she then posted to Facebook in early September. Her letter acknowledged that it might be easier to post her outrage in order to shame them back to the stone age, where that lopsided, male-dominated list belongs. Instead, Coleman opted to create a list of her own, and extended an invite to others to chime in with their suggestions.

After all the threads were curated, a crowd-sourced public Google Document emerged from the ashes, and the internet “quickly brought forth more than 300 names of women and gender non-conforming scholars, researchers, activists, writers, and speakers, around half of whom have published books or book chapters [on technology]...We are only two people, but we encourage you to add links to books, articles and other works...oh, and feel free to #SuggestAScholar.”

Coleman also gave an update in the comment section of her Facebook post, after having heard back from LARB, “...[It] looks like they've acknowledged the problem and are looking to gather together new more diverse voices/authors for a new issue on tech. I hope they follow through and I'm pleased they have responded and I admire how so many of you spoke up and contributed to the shared google doc.”

You can read the full list here, and check out some of our favorites below:

Who: Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication

What: Her writing explores how “digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology design.”

She wrote: Missed Connections: What Search Engines Say about Women (Bitch magazine)

Follow her work: @safiyanoble


 


 

Who: Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Director for International Freedom of Expression

What: Her work “examines state and corporate censorship and its impact on culture and human rights.”

She wrote: Closed Network: Technology may be redefining our intellectual life, but some things never change especially for women. A response to Henry Farrell. (Democracy)

Follow her work: @JillianCYork


 

Who: Kate Crawford, Professor at New York University, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New York, and Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab. Crawford is also the co-founder and co-director of the AI Now Research Institute.

What: She is a “leading researcher, academic and author who has spent the last decade studying the social implications of data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Her recent publications address data bias and fairness, social impacts of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and due process, and algorithmic accountability and transparency.”

She wrote: Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem (The New York Times)

 

Follow her work: @katecrawford

 


 

Who: Danielle Citron, Author, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

What: Citron teaches and writes about “information privacy, free expression, and civil rights. Her book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Harvard University Press 2014) explored the phenomenon of cyber stalking and the role of law and private companies in combating it.”

She wrote: We will look back at cyber-harassment as a disgrace – if we act now (The Guardian)

Follow her work: @daniellecitron

Who: Whitney Phillips, Author, Assistant Professor of Literary Studies and Writing at Mercer University

What: Phillips’ work focuses on “digital media and technology studies, communication studies, cultural studies, folklore studies, literary studies, and critical race, gender, and sexuality studies.” She is the author of This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. She is also the co-author of The Ambivalent Internet.

She wrote: Donald Trump Is Not a Troll: Calling him a troll trivializes his repulsive comments (Slate)

Follow her work: @wphillips49

 


 

 

Who: Shanley Kane, Author, journalist, activist, founder/editor of Model View Culture

What: Kane launched and ran Model View Culture, a site about tech, diversity, and culture, from 2013 to 2016. She's well known for pointing out embedded bigotry and misogyny in Silicon Valley in a take-no-prisoners style that either wins her fans or enemies. She's currently working on a book about the tech industry (coming Fall 2018).

She wrote: Women in Tech and the Awareness Problem (Model View Culture)

Follow her work: @shanley

 

Who: Kara Swisher, author, journalist, executive editor of Recode, host of the Recode Decode podcast and co-executive producer of the Code Conference.

What: Swisher co-founded Recode and, before that, co-produced and co-hosted The Wall Street Journal’s "D: All Things Digital," with Walt Mossberg. It was the major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. She and Mossberg were also the co-executive editors of a tech and media website, AllThingsD.com. Swisher worked in The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau for many years, writing the column, "BoomTown," which appeared on the front page of the Marketplace section and also on The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com.

She wrote: With her blog post about toxic bro culture at Uber, Susan Fowler proved one person can make a difference (Recode)

Follow her work: @karaswisher

 

Who: Simone Brown, author, associate professor, University of Texas at Austin

What: Simone Brown is associate professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT, Austin. She teaches and researches surveillance studies and black diaspora studies. Her first book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, examines surveillance with a focus on transatlantic slavery, biometric technologies, branding, airports and creative texts. Dark Matters changed how many scholars of tech and surveillance view the topic.

She wrote: Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness

 

 

Who: Mahsa Alimardani, author, audio producer

What: Mahsa Alimardani is the Iran editor for Global Voices as well as an Iranian-Canadian Internet researcher. Her focus is on the intersection of technology and human rights. She's especially concerned with how this pertains to freedom of expression and access to information, with a focus on Iran. She is also a researcher for the University of Amsterdam’s DATACTIVE Research Collective, alongside her other work concerning digital rights.

She wrote: A crowd-sourced database provides a glimpse of what traveling from Iran to the US is like right now (PRI)

Follow her work: @maasalan

 

Who: Sareeta Amrute, author, associate professor University of Washington

What: Sareeta Amrute is an associate professor in the school of Anthropology at the University of Washington. She is particularly interested in how race and class are revisited and remade in sites of new economy work, such as coding and software economies.

She wrote: Encoding Race, Encoding Class (Duke University Press)

Follow her work: @SareetaAmrute

 

Who: Zeynep Tufekci, author, associate professor at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

What: Zeynep Tufekci focuses on the intersection of technology and society. She is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill at at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and associate faculty at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

She wrote: Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

Follow her work: @zeynep