Feminist Data Visualization
In this paper, we begin to outline how feminist theory may be productively applied to information visualization research and practice. Other technology and design-oriented fields such as Science and Technology Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, Digital Humanities, and Geography/GIS have begun to incorporate feminist principles into their research. Feminism is not (just) about women,
but rather draws our attention to questions of epistemology – who is included in dominant ways of producing and communicating
knowledge and whose perspectives are marginalized. We describe potential applications of feminist theory to influence the information
design process as well as to shape the outputs from that process.
In this paper, we have outlined six principles for feminist data visualization: Rethink Binaries, Embrace Pluralism, Examine Power and Aspire to Empowerment, Consider Context, Legitimize Embodiment and Affect and Make Labor Visible. These are preliminary and offered for the purposes of beginning a dialogue about how the digital humanities and information visualization communities can productively exchange theories, concepts, and methods. Applying humanistic theories to design processes and artifacts may be new territory for many humanists, just as grappling with questions of subjectivity, power, and oppression may be new territory for many visualization researchers. As data visualization becomes a mainstream technique for making meaning and creating stories about the world, questions of inclusion, authorship,framing, reception, and social impact will become increasingly important. In this regard, the humanities and specifically feminist theory have much to offer.