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Will the semantic web be gendered?

Via maybe maimed but never harmed, Read Write Web reports researcher Corrina Bath’s cautions of gendered ontologies in the Semantic Web.

Too often, “binary assumptions about women and men are not reflected [upon] or the (gender) politics of [a particular] domain is ignored. Thus, the existing structural-symbolic gender order is inscribed into computational artifacts and will be reproduced by [their] use.”

Bath cites Bowker and Star’s example of how phone books in the US were first arranged indexed by the husband’s name, reflecting assumptions about the use of infrastructure and truth of American social life at the time.

In the original, longer interview at Austrian Semantic Web, Bath expands that the stakes of feminist ontology in the semantic web are two fold. First, what kinds of relationships between knowledge objects will be formalized, how will minority interpretations be handled, and what room for contestation of knowledge obects will there be? Second, and relatedly, will the semantic web recognize the contingency of truths and the situatedness of ontologies?

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