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No Women on the Internet

No Women on the Internet

In my final semester at Wellesley College, all Computer Science majors were required to present a poster in the Computer Science Poster Fair. I took this opportunity to explore the implications of technology on society rather than a strictly technical topic.

In 2014, right before the start of my senior year, I was particularly struck by the iCloud hacks which allowed anonymous hackers to release nude celebrity photos on the Internet without their permission. It was apparent to me that technology was allowing real-world violence and harassment to carry over to people’s phones, computers, and, therefore, private lives. Over the year, I kept this in mind as I took a Feminist Economics course, attended an informative talk by Alice E. Marwich on the legal implications of online harassment, and began my studies of online privacy.

Inspired by these events, I decided to use the poster fair to create a poster called “No Women on the Internet”. I took this opportunity to learn more about individual harassment incidents, from celebrities to gaming to the porn industry. My goal was to create a centerpiece around which attendees could discuss the treatment of women in technical and online spaces.

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Looking back, there are things I wish I had done differently in creating this poster. However, the reaction from the attendees of the poster fair was exactly what I had wanted. Just talking about incidents created discussion and debates amongst friends and colleagues. As technologists, I believe it’s important that we keep having difficult conversations about the technology we create.