POST: On Changing the Rules of Digital Humanities from the Inside

Melissa Terras (University College London) reflects on the recent conversations around both the inclusivity of digital humanities and issues of gender, race, class, and disability as they relate to DH work. In the post, she describes her experience working with the TEI guidelines for gender, an issue that also came up at the Women’s History in the Digital World conference:

For example, in 2006 I first noticed that the TEI guidelines encouraged the use of ISO5218:2004 to assign sexuality of persons in a document (with attributes being given as 1 for male, 2 for female, 9 for non-applicable, and 0 for unknown). I find this an outmoded and problematic representation of sexuality, which in particular formally assigns women to be secondary to men, and so, in one of the core guidelines in Digital Humanities, we allow and indeed encourage sexist structures to be encoded.

Terras goes on to explain how she was moved to try to change the guideline, and encourages others to continue to speak up when they encounter problems in DH, pointing out that “criticism is helpful.”

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kristen Andrews, Elizabeth Lorang, and Caro Pinto (Editors-at-Large for the week), Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib review editor for the week), and Zach Coble and Sarah Potvin (site editors).