The role of gender and intersectional identities in digital humanities remains an urgent topic of conversation. Despite this, precious few spaces exist where open, safe, and inclusive discussions around intersectional gender can happen. Digital spaces like the Crunk Feminist Collective (http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/), FemTechNet (https://femtechnet.org/), and FemBot Collective (https://fembot.adanewmedia.org/) provide blogs, resources, and opportunities for public writing on issues that matter to female-identified researchers. Perhaps despite these spaces, the expression of digital humanities in conferences, publications, and projects struggles with striking a balance between public and private discourse. The narratives of digital spaces and the blogosphere prioritize sharing and making visible the labor of feminist activism within academia. Nevertheless, despite the emphasis on visibility, individuals in precarious, contingent labor conditions need protective shielding, as speaking about gendered experiences in DH can result in personal and professional consequences. Safety is even less assured in the conference venues and the purview of anonymous peer review of proposals, papers, and grant applications, where institutional affiliation and long-established projects and reputations regularly prevail.
During fall 2018, a loosely organized working group formed around lived experiences of gender in the digital humanities. This group aims to provide a space for an open discussion about embodied experiences and intersectional gender identities in digital humanities. The working group aims not only to raise awareness, but pragmatically to enact change in the larger digital humanities community in its interests in strategies of resistance and survival for women and gender non-conforming digital humanists. Between January and June 2019, individual volunteers are organizing a series of monthly virtual meetings, each around a specific topic (e.g. credit, authority, (lack of) infrastructure, emotional and invisible labor, gender equity at panels, gender disparities in technical work, gender and leadership in digital humanities centers, etc). We anticipate that these discussions will lead to the production of documents such as white papers that will be made available for anyone to use when advocating for change at their institution, for conferences they are organizing, etc. We expect at least two of these documents to be ready for dissemination by the ACH conference. We intend to release these as fodder for discussion within the roundtable and by the audience generally.
The ACH conference would provide an opportunity to expand the community of this working group by presenting the work done to date, soliciting input and volunteers for the next series of discussions starting in the fall, and considering what organizational steps (e.g. incorporation as an ADHO SIG) should be taken to maximize the impact this group can have on the culture of digital humanities. We anticipate that the audience for this roundtable will be largely composed of female-identified and genderqueer individuals, but we welcome anyone interested in issues of gender, intersectional identities, and DH, with particular attention to issues of policy and infrastructure.