Gender and Digital Culture


The Gender and Digital Culture Project is currently running its inaugural survey, and we need your help to enable us to understand how gender informs the ways people use digital communication in their professional lives. You can go to the survey right away by clicking here, or continue reading to find out more about the project itself.

Part of the university’s Digital Humanities initiative, the project is a partnership between the University of Southampton and the University of York, led by Dr. Sara Perry.  It aims to examine how gender is negotiated, constructed and expressed through contemporary digital media, with an emphasis on how digital technologies used in our working lives variously facilitate, exacerbate, rethink or replicate diverse behaviours.

With financial support from the University of Southampton, Sara recruited PhD students Lucy Shipley (Archaeology) and myself, Jim Osborne (English Literature) as Research Assistants. While Sara has blogged about the project elsewhere (including her personal impetus for starting it), it has also been discussed by Ned Potter (University of York) and others, following Sara’s recent appearance at York’s Intellectual Integrity Conference. That event attended to the risks of exposure for female academics in the public eye. Especially when engaging professionally with Twitter, Facebook, blogging, YouTube, and other online outlets (even email itself), it seems not uncommon for women to be subject to significant and persistent harassment – including those who are at the start of their careers, with little visibility and still fledgling disciplinary clout.

However, the extent to which such harassment is truly gender-specific or profession-specific, its manifestations in academia versus other working environments, its relationship to career stage, and the means by which individuals have productively and assertively responded to and pushed back against it, are less clear. This is the remit of the Gender and Digital Culture project: to better understand how digital media are impacting upon our working lives; and to begin to define meaningful mechanisms and standards for ensuring safe and constructive engagements in the digital realm.

Since launching the project we’ve been thrilled with the positive responses we have received from people working both within and beyond ademia – and with the interest from other universities and colleagues around the world. Alongside various conference presentations that we are preparing, we’re also currently planning an event at both the University of Southampton and University of York* this Autumn – Friday, 8 November – live-linked between both sites and streamed online through Sara’s YouTube account, so please save the date, keep an eye on our blog, and follow us on Twitter for updates!

If you want to make a contribution to this project, please take a few moments to complete our survey: The Online Professional. If you’re reading this, you almost certainly use digital communication in one form or another in your professional life (be it email, blog or social media, etc.) and we want to find out more about your experiences. We’ve already had nearly 300 responses so far, but we need more to make our research count, so please take the survey and let your colleagues know about our work!

For more information and for updates, please visit our blog and follow us on Twitter.

*Sponsored by York’s Centre for Modern Studies.