Data for Social Justice Symposium

Sadly, we must postpone the symposium as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic collectively.  We will reschedule once it is safe and healthy for all of us to hang out together.  Until then, wash your hands and stay inside!

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Several groups across campus at Phillips Academy are working on an interdisciplinary initiative for this Spring:  ‘Data for Social Justice Symposium’. This day-long program aims to examine the role that data takes in our lives.  From the micro realm of personal data and privacy, to the use of data to both justify and expose problematic policing practices in communities of color, we use information in a variety of ways.  We hope to engage in learning and discussing the different ways in which data can be used, analyzed, and collected:  swaying elections, revealing systemic injustice, improving healthcare systems, impacting cultural change, framing issues and reflections… Understanding the role and utilization of data also calls for a strong analysis on limitations, bias, and ethical considerations.


Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio & Lauren Klein

As data are increasingly mobilized in the service of governments and corporations, their unequal conditions of production, their asymmetrical methods of application, and their unequal effects on both individuals and groups have become increasingly difficult for data scientists–and others who rely on data in their work–to ignore. But it is precisely this power that makes it worth asking: “Data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind? These are some of the questions that emerge from what we call data feminism, a way of thinking about data science and its communication that is informed by the past several decades of intersectional feminist activism and critical thought. Illustrating data feminism in action, this talk will show how challenges to the male/female binary can help to challenge other hierarchical (and empirically wrong) classification systems; it will explain how an understanding of emotion can expand our ideas about effective data visualization; how the concept of invisible labor can expose the significant human efforts required by our automated systems; and why the data never, ever “speak for themselves.” The goal of this talk, as with the project of data feminism, is to model how scholarship can be transformed into action: how feminist thinking can be operationalized in order to imagine more ethical and equitable data practices.

Catherine DIgnazio PicCatherine D’Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology, data literacy and civic engagement. She has run reproductive justice hackathons, designed global news recommendation systems, created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures, and led walking data visualizations to envision the future of sea level rise. With Rahul Bhargava, she built the platform, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her forthcoming book from MIT Press, Data Feminism, co-authored with Lauren Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Her research at the intersection of technology, design & social justice has been published in the Journal of Peer Production, the Journal of Community Informatics, and the proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM SIGCHI). Her art and design projects have won awards from the Tanne Foundation, and the Knight Foundation and exhibited at the Venice Biennial and the ICA Boston. D’Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial equity, particularly in relation to space and place.

Lauren Klein-square-med-forwebLauren Klein is an associate professor in the departments of English and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University, where she also directs the Digital Humanities Lab. She works at the intersection of data science, digital humanities, and early American literature, with a research focus on issues of race and gender. She has designed platforms for exploring the contents of historical newspapers, recreated forgotten visualization schemes with fabric and addressable LEDs, and, with her students, cooked meals from early American recipes—and then visualized the results. In 2017, she was named one of the “rising stars in digital humanities” by Inside Higher Ed. She is the author of An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and, with Catherine D’Ignazio, Data Feminism (MIT Press, 2020). With Matthew K. Gold, she edits Debates in the Digital Humanities, a hybrid print-digital publication stream that explores debates in the field as they emerge. Her current project, Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization, 1786-1900, was recently funded by an NEH-Mellon Fellowship for Digital Publication.   

Don’t miss Dr. D’Ignazio and Dr. Klein’s worshop:

What’s up with your (gender-biased) pockets?

Building off the Pudding’s data story about how women’s pants pockets are too small, we will conduct our own study of pants pockets, collect and analyze data, and design paper-based data visualizations, stories and campaigns to help rectify the pocket conspiracy.

Research for Law, Policy, and Civil Rights by Rashida Richardson

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 1.32.12 PMAs Director of Policy Research, Rashida Richardson designs, implements, and coordinates AI Now’s research strategy and initiatives on the topics of law, policy, and civil rights.

Rashida joins AI Now after working as Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of New York (NYCLU), where she led the organization’s work on privacy, technology, surveillance, and education issues. Prior to the NYCLU, she was a staff attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, where she worked on a wide-range of HIV-related legal and policy issues nationally, and she previously worked at Facebook Inc. and HIP Investor in San Francisco. Rashida currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Wesleyan University, the Advisory Board of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, the Board of Directors of the College & Community Fellowship, and she is an affiliate and Advisory Board member of the Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies. She received her BA with honors in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University and her JD from Northeastern University School of Law.

Fireside Chat with Brittany Kaiser

UnknownBrittany Kaiser is a data rights activist and the founder of the #OwnYourData campaign. She is a cofounder of the Digital Asset Trade Association (DATA), a nonprofit lobbying firm advancing legislative reform to protect the rights of individuals to control their own digital assets. She currently works with the states of New York and California on privacy and blockchain legislation. To raise awareness of data rights, she recently cofounded the Own Your Data Foundation, to train others in digital literacy. Brittany is the primary subject of the Netflix Original documentary The Great Hack, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and recently nominated for a BAFTA and shortlisted for an Oscar. Brittany is also the author of “Targeted”, published by Harper Collins in 15 countries.


Facebook:  Http://

Twitter: @ownyourdataNOW

Don’t miss Ms. Kaiser’s worshop:

Data Literacy

Full workshop description coming soon!



Miles McCain wants to build systems that improve the world—and learn something along the way. His interests include digital freedom, social justice, privacy, government accountability, artificial intelligence, and human-centered design.


His projects, research, and commentary have appeared in several major news outlets including the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News, Foreign Affairs, and the Nightly News with Lester Holt.

Alba Disla ‘15 is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Sociology and Consumer Psychology. She is proud to come from Lawrence, Massachusetts and is glad to have also planted roots in Andover and Philadelphia. While at Andover, Alba was an active member in Af-Lat-Am, Alianza Latina, Out of the Blue, PACE, The Sisterhood, Sí, Se Puede After School Program, and more. Following a similar path in college, Alba dedicated the majority of her time at Penn to the empowerment and advancement of marginalized populations and her fellow peers. 

Throughout her life, Alba has kept the mantra “Lift as you climb” close to her heart. She has brought this quote to life through her work with several mentorship, cultural, and empowerment groups on campus. Starting with the Riepe Mentors Program her freshman year in which she tutored first-grade students in reading and math, Alba expanded her commitment to service as an Hermana of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. Through her work with the Gamma Chapter, she continues to serve communities she cares about through culturally enriching and academically engaging programming both on campus and in the greater Philadelphia community. She feels lucky to have had the opportunities to attend some of the country’s most prestigious institutions and will continue to uplift and support those who have not been afforded the same privileges. 


Words Speak Louder Than Academic Comments: How the statistical analysis of writing can lead to deep insights by Bowman Dickson

In this session, you will hear about an analysis a high school mathematics teacher did on the words that fellow teachers at his school used in their academic comments (narrative writing about student performance in their class). What words do teachers use most often in their comments? Do different departments talk about student work in different ways? Do teachers use a different set of words when writing about struggling vs. succeeding students? What about boys and girls? And white students compared to students of color? After hearing about this analysis, you will be able to get your hands dirty with a little bit of textual analysis using pre-built coding files – no coding experience or installed programs necessary, all code runs on web-based notebooks, is beginner friendly, and can be adapted to explore any text that you want.

Unknown-1Bowman Dickson grew up as a faculty child on the campus of St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. He began teaching mathematics at King’s Academy in Jordan, taught at St. Andrew’s School in Delaware and currently teaches at St. Albans School in Washington, DC. He found himself enamored with the world of data, and immersed himself in it by teaching a summer data science course at St. Paul’s and statistics at his various schools. Bowman believes that data is a window into understanding out world, and is the ultimate interdisciplinary subject that takes both technical mathematical know-how and deep, reflective thinking in the humanities.

Analytics on Non-profit Education by Alice C. Mello da Fonseca

How can analytics help the non-profit education sector? How is analytics being used in this sector? Can it help advance social justice? What are the ethical considerations? Let’s look at a couple of non-profits in education and discuss their work.

Child Trends:

Center for Collaborative Education:

AliceHeadShotAlice C. Mello da Fonseca is an assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University in the Master of Professional Studies in Analytics and Bachelor of Science in Analytics (BSA) programs, supporting the alignment of the new master of Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Intelligence with the degree of Analytics. She developed and launched the BSA on the fall of 2019 and is the faculty lead. She joined the College of Professional Studies part-time in 2017 when she was also a research and evaluation associate at the college.

Prior to joining Northeastern, Dr. Mello da Fonseca was a senior researcher at Wentworth Institute of Technology, a web developer at Harvard Medical School, and a curriculum specialist/researcher at University of Southern California/New Media Literacies. Her work includes collaboration with partners in the educational, aviation and finance industries.

Dr. Mello da Fonseca has written about the ways the cultural gender roles interfere with the learning of science and engineering, and she was one of the two faculty members who led Analytics students to a recent United Nations award. She has taught at Lesley University, MassBay and Bunker Hill Community Colleges, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. She lives in the greater Boston area and teaches hybrid courses in Boston.