Feminist HCI is a subfield of human-computer interaction (HCI) that applies feminist theory, critical theory and philosophy to social topics in HCI, including scientific objectivity, ethical values, data collection, data interpretation, reflexivity, and unintended consequences of HCI software.[1] The term was originally used in 2010 by Shaowen Bardzell, and although the concept and original publication are widely cited, as of 2020 Bardzell's proposed frameworks have been rarely used since.[2]


In the early 1980s, there was optimism as to how the field of cognitive psychology could contribute to the development of the field of HCI.[3] As computer systems at the time were widely regarded as difficult to learn and use, mainstream information processing theories and models in psychology were used as a basis from which to develop design principles, methods, analytic tools and prescriptive advice for the design of computer interfaces. This was done generally by three methods: basic research, cognitive modeling and science communication.[3]

One such contribution to the development of HCI in the 90s was by John M. Carroll in 1991, which described in detail how scientific principles were applied to HCI experimental design.[4] Carroll writes that at the time, the 50 year struggle to establish psychology as a science was an important factor in trying to apply the scientific method to HCI studies. Through the 1970s, the typical measures used by empirical studies for HCI were relatively simple; error frequencies and performance times such as by using or testing Fitt's law. However, these scientifically minded studies did not produce insight into improving programming. It was not well understood at the time, how to use structured programming to make higher code quality that is more reliable and maintainable.[5]

The term gender HCI was first described in 2006,[6][7] and its development is related to feminist HCI. Gender HCI by comparison, examines the functional differences between females and males in using specific computing software such as Excel,[8] whereas feminist HCI applies social principles to the techniques used in HCI design. While it was not disputed there were significant gender gaps in technology participation, there was academic disagreement about the importance or relevance of gender in HCI design in the 2000s.[9] Feminist HCI was also influenced by science and technology studies research.[9]

The term feminist HCI was first used in a 2010 paper by Shaowen Bardzell's article titled Feminist HCI: Taking Stock and Outlining an Agenda for Design.[10] It was one of the first papers at the time to propose adoption of feminist theories into HCI research and practice.[2] It was followed up witth a second publication in 2011 detailing the historical interaction between social science and feminism, and how this relates to HCI.[1]

According to a 2020 study of 70 papers using of the term and citing Bardzell's original paper, it was found that Bardzell's proposed frameworks have been widely cited but rarely used and in practice only amount to a superficial engagement with feminist theory.[2]

Original theory

Bardzell's original theory first examines the history of feminist standpoint theory, science and technology studies, and Bardzell describes how they want the epistemology of HCI to change to better align with feminist standpoint theory. Bardzell considers principles including equity, diversity, social justice, and the already existing theories on gender HCI. This is followed by a literature review of how feminism has been applied to similar fields, including product design, architecture, urban planning and game design. The main proposal of the theory is using six core qualities in HCI design:[11]


Examples of research utilizing feminist HCI include:

Related theory

For comparison, design theory that does not reference or use the term HCI can also involve feminist perspectives in design, such as:[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ a b Bardzell, Shaowen; Bardzell, Jeffrey (2011-05-07). "Towards a feminist HCI methodology: Social science, feminism, and HCI". Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 675–684. doi:10.1145/1978942.1979041. ISBN 9781450302289. S2CID 17014760.
  2. ^ a b c Chivukula, Shruthi Sai; Gray, Colin M. (2020-04-25). "Bardzell's "Feminist HCI" Legacy: Analyzing Citational Patterns". Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 1–8. doi:10.1145/3334480.3382936. ISBN 9781450368193. S2CID 218483557.
  3. ^ a b Rogers, Yvonne (2004). "New theoretical approaches for human-computer interaction". Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. 38 (1): 87–143. doi:10.1002/aris.1440380103. ISSN 0066-4200.
  4. ^ Carroll, John M. (1991). Designing interaction: psychology at the human-computer interface. Cambridge series on human-computer interaction (Reprinted ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-40921-6.
  5. ^ Carroll 1991, p. 4.
  6. ^ Beckwith, Laura; Burnett, Margaret; Grigoreanu, Valentina; Wiedenbeck, Susan (November 2006). "Gender HCI: What About the Software?". Computer. 39 (11): 97–101. doi:10.1109/mc.2006.382. ISSN 0018-9162. S2CID 15706268.
  7. ^ Beckwith, Laura (2005-04-02). "Gender HCI issues in problem-solving software". CHI '05 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 1104–1105. doi:10.1145/1056808.1056833. ISBN 1595930027. S2CID 28476456.
  8. ^ Burnett, Margaret M. (2010-09-27). "Gender HCI: What about the software?". Proceedings of the 28th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. p. 251. doi:10.1145/1878450.1878493. ISBN 9781450304030.
  9. ^ a b Rode, Jennifer A. (2011). "A theoretical agenda for feminist HCI". Interacting with Computers. 23 (5): 393–400. doi:10.1016/j.intcom.2011.04.005. S2CID 10882840.
  10. ^ Bardzell, Shaowen (January 2010). "Feminist HCI: Taking stock and outlining an agenda for design" (PDF). Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 1301–1310. doi:10.1145/1753326.1753521. ISBN 9781605589299. S2CID 207178540. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  11. ^ Bardzell, Shaowen (2010). "Feminist HCI". Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 1301–1310. doi:10.1145/1753326.1753521. ISBN 9781605589299. S2CID 207178540.
  12. ^ Dimond, Jill (2012). Feminist HCI for real: Designing technology in support of a social movement. Georgia Institute of Technology. hdl:1853/45778.
  13. ^ Dimond, Jill P.; Dye, Michaelanne; Larose, Daphne; Bruckman, Amy S. (2013). "Hollaback!". Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. pp. 477–490. doi:10.1145/2441776.2441831. ISBN 9781450313315. S2CID 9473790.
  14. ^ D'Ignazio, Catherine; Hope, Alexis; Michelson, Becky; Churchill, Robyn; Zuckerman, Ethan (2016). "A Feminist HCI Approach to Designing Postpartum Technologies". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 2612–2622. doi:10.1145/2858036.2858460. ISBN 9781450333627. S2CID 16030755.
  15. ^ Fiesler, Casey; Morrison, Shannon; Bruckman, Amy S. (2016). "An Archive of Their Own". Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp. 2574–2585. doi:10.1145/2858036.2858409. ISBN 9781450333627. S2CID 8394004.
  16. ^ Prochner, Isabel (2020). "Starting a Feminist Design Think Tank". Pivot 2020: Designing a World of Many Centers. Proceedings of Pivot 2020: Designing a World of Many Centers - DRS Pluriversal Design SIG Conference. doi:10.21606/pluriversal.2020.105. ISBN 9781912294428. S2CID 231473965.
  17. ^ Prochner, Isabel; Marchand, Anne (2018). "Learning from Feminist Critiques of and Recommendations for Industrial Design". DRS2018: Catalyst. Proceedings of Design as a Catalyst for Change - DRS International Conference 2018. Vol. 2. doi:10.21606/drs.2018.355. ISBN 9781912294275. S2CID 150913753.