Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


Symposium features on issues facing marginalized identities

Symposium features on issues facing marginalized identities

Catherine D’Ignazio was the keynote speaker at the 8th Digital Ethics Symposium. She discussed two projects she’s involved in that intersect data and feminism

Scholars from across the country explored the intersection between social justice and technology from data misrepresentation to breastfeeding at this year’s 8th Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics & Policy.

The symposium centered on the theme “From the Margins,” and featured speakers and panels discussing issues from youth to minorities in tech. The event took place at Regents Hall on Loyola University’s Water Tower campus, Friday, Nov. 9.

Keynote speaker Catherine D’Ignazio’s work looks at feminism in technology. She discussed two projects: a book called “Data Feminism,” and a hack-a-thon on breastfeeding.

D’Ignazio discussed how data and feminism intersect in both projects. She co-authored “Data Feminism” with Lauren Klein, and a draft of the book is available for the public to view and comment on. 

D’Ignazio introduced her next topic by humoring the audience first.

“How many people in this room have ever been a baby,” she asked.

D’Ignazio was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when she was breastfeeding her baby on the bathroom floor there, she said. The experience inspired her to co-found the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” hack-a-thon.

The first hack-a-thon sparked new ideas to improve breastfeeding pumps, and it also put a spotlight on larger societal issues such as, parental leave policies and workplace discrimination. This led to a second hack-a-thon which included a summit in conjunction to discuss privilege and parenting.

D’Ignazio finished her discussion by looping back to the larger theme of feminist ethics.

“I would like to see really courageous, intersectional feminist thinking about design, ethics and science take the center stage in these emerging conversations about data and technology,” she said.

After the keynote, there was a panel discussion about youth and digital media. Melissa Brough, Jennifer Rosales, and Sylvia Lovato each spoke about different research on how young people interact and understand digital media.

Brough, an associate professor at California State University, shared her research on social media’s impact on young people. Her research looked at anecdotes from youth who reflected on their own social media experiences.

For some youth, social media is a murky environment where it can be difficult to draw the line between the personal and professional world. Social media can also be a place where some young people feel social pressure to conform rather than be themselves. On the other hand, social media can be a place where youths can find solidarity with others and open their minds to new perspectives.

Rosales, a director of research from Georgetown University, discussed how Ignatian Pedagogy can be used to form better media literacy. Youth growing up today face less physical risks, but digital media is causing more mental harm. However, incorporating principles of Ignatian Pedagogy can help improve mental literacy through thoughtful engagement and reflection, she said.

The final panelist spoke on behalf of Jabari Evans, a Ph.D. candidate from Northwestern University who couldn’t be at the symposium. Lovato shared Evans’ research on hip hop culture and digital media can be used to educate youth.

Other speakers featured at the 8th Digital Ethics Symposium included Susan J. Fowler, Andre Brock and Melissa Zimdars.  

The Center for Digital Ethics and Policy was founded through Loyola University’s School of Communication and was spearheaded by former Dean of the SOC Don Heider.