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Graduate Studies

Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Defense for Subhasree Sengupta

January 28, 2022 at 9:30am12:00pm EST

Virtual (See event details)

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Subhasree Sengupta will defend her proposal: Envisioning Digital Sanctuaries:  An Exploration of Virtual Collectives for Nurturing Professional Development of Women in Technical Domains. All are welcome to attend.

Work and learning are essential facets of our existence, yet socio-cultural barriers may limit access and opportunity in such contexts. Women historically have faced multiple elements of subjugation and prejudice that have hindered their entry into professional ventures. These hurdles are further magnified in technical professions (such as computer science and information technology), due to the structural and cultural barriers in these fields which have placed such voices at the margins. These barriers have been associated with strife, turmoil and emotional strain for those affected. Hence, it is important to investigate how women can subvert such structural subjugation and can find channels through which they can seek support and guidance to navigate their careers. With the proliferation of modern communication infrastructure, virtual communities (e.g., Reddit) have emerged as key spaces that allow community building, knowledge sharing, and opportunities for mobilizing collective action and have also emerged as sanctuaries for support and companionship. Yet, recent scholarship points to the negative ramifications of such channels in perpetuating social stigma and harms as well, directed particularly at members from marginalized communities.

Thus, through a three-part investigation, the goal of this proposed exploration is to integrate insights from computer-mediated communication, human-computer interaction, and feminist data studies to investigate how online channels can play a key role in shaping online spaces of support. Particularly, the proposed dissertation focuses on how these spaces are used and adopted by women for resilience building and for navigating goals, aspirations, and tensions in crafting their professional journey in technical domains. The three layers of analysis will include understanding the present conversational patterns in two subreddits that are dedicated to discussions on careers in the technical domain; a survey exploration to better understand factors that impact participation trends of women in such online channels; and a design exploration to better understand how such channels can be envisioned in future use cases. The expected contributions of this research endeavor are aimed to provide recommendations and insights towards how the design and structuration of such online collectives can be understood and explored to increase the collective and cooperative efficacy provided by such online channels in order to better scaffold and nurture the professional pursuits of marginalized groups such as women.

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This event was published on January 26, 2022.

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