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New article by Rosemary Lucy Hill examines need for Feminist Data Studies

Rosemary Lucy Hill, along with colleagues in the School of Media and Communication at Leeds and the Department of Sociological Studies at University of Sheffield, has just published a new article which examines sexist discourses in the readings of data visualisations. The article appears in the Journal of Communication Inquiry, special issue on Digital Feminist Media Studies. The article is available online now.

Visualizing Junk: Big Data Visualizations and the Need for Feminist Data Studies

by Rosemary Lucy Hill, Helen Kennedy and Ysabel Gerrard


Clicks don't lieThe datafication of culture has led to an increase in the circulation of data visualizations. In their production, visualizers draw on historical antecedents which define what constitutes a good visualization. In their reception, audiences similarly draw on experiences with visualizations and other visual forms to categorize them as good or bad. While there are often sound reasons for such assessments, the gendered dimensions of judgments of cultural artifacts like data visualizations cannot be ignored. In this article, we highlight how definitions of visualizations as bad are sometimes gendered. In turn, this gendered derision is often entangled with legitimate criticisms of poor visualization execution, making it hard to see and so normalized. This, we argue, is a form of what Gill calls flexible sexism, and it is why there is a need not just for feminist critiques of big data but for feminist data studies–that is, feminists doing big data and data visualization.

Download the article from the journal’s website: http://jci.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/08/22/0196859916666041.abstract.

Download the pre-press open access version: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103443/.

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