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FemTechNet is a feminist online educational resource founded in 2013 by Anne Balsamo and Alexandra Juhasz.[1] Its online course on "Dialogues on Feminism and Technology" and an associated initiative, "Storming Wikipedia," have been described as "a new approach to collaborative learning",[2] a "feminist anti-MOOC",[3] and an "awesome" attempt to combat "Wikipedia's boy's club problem."[4]


At its core, FemTechNet is “an activated network of scholars, artists and students who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science and feminism in a variety of fields including STS, Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women's, Queer and Ethnic Studies.”[5] FTN grew out of a coffee klatch between Balsamo and Juhasz, both of whom have written extensively on women and feminist pedagogy in technology. The pair shared concerns that women's contributions to technology, from academia to art, weren't being recognized, or even documented, and female representation in the field suffered for it.[6]

FemTechNet proposed a new model they call a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC). The DOCC structure eschews centralization for several “nodal” classes that are based around proposed themes and augmented by video discussions available on FemTechNet's website. The first DOCC, "Dialogues in Feminism and Technology,"[7] was initiated in 2013 as for-credit courses at the following institutions: Rutgers University, The New School, CUNY, University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois, Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Pitzer College, Colby-Sawyer College, Penn State University, California Polytechnic University, Ontario College of Art and Design, Brown University, and Yale University. Non-traditional students take the course via the FTN website's free, self-directed learner component.[1]

In 2014 -2015 the second Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) was offered at the following nodes: Bowling Green State University, Brown University, Colby-Sawyer College, The College of New Jersey , Cornell University, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Rutgers University, The New School, City University of New York, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, MacCauley Honors College,University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois, MIT, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Pitzer College, California Polytechnic University, California State University Fullerton,Ontario College of Art and Design, Temple University, Texas A and M University, The University of California, San Diego, and Yale University [8]

In 2013 FemTechNet launched "Storming Wikipedia", which aimed to encouraged students to engage in Wikipedia editing. Portrayed as a response to Wikipedia's gender imbalance,[9] the assignment is also used to highlight "the significant contributions of feminists to technology."[10]

Theoretical underpinnings[edit]

FemTechNet articulates its vision in terms of a desire to create "projects of feminist technological innovation for the purposes of engaging the interests of colleagues and students on advanced topics in feminist science-technology studies. This project seeks to engender a set of digital practices among women and girls, to teach and encourage their participation in writing the technocultural histories of the future by becoming active participants in the creation of global digital archives."[11]

Critiques of the DOCC[edit]

One critique of the Distributed Open Collaborative Course is the distribution of knowledge on an open source, without the access to control who comes and goes. "It is a feminist rethinking of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that has been widely used in distance learning education. A MOOC is pedagogically centralized and branded by a single institution. FemTechNet seeks to enhance the system using feminist principles and methods that support a decentralized, collaborative form of learning."[12]

It has been criticized as being more concerned with political correctness than factual accuracy.[13] Katherine Timpf, a reporter for the Leadership Institute's CampusReform.org, commented on the idea of Wikistorming saying, "They're more concerned with making it politically correct than factually correct".[13] "Wikistorming" as defined by the site is "inject[ing] feminist thinking into the popular website Wikipedia -- something critics are calling an eye-opening case of campus bias."


  1. ^ a b Enlow, Callie (September 18, 2013). "FemTechNet Hopes to Revolutionize SA's Higher Education Possibilities". San Antonio Current. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  2. ^ "Feminist digital initiative challenges universities' race for MOOCs". OCAD University. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Jaschik, Scott (August 19, 2013). "Feminist Anti-MOOC". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ Baker, Katie J. M. "The Lady Geeks Are Coming For Wikipedia". Jezebel. 
  5. ^ "About FemTechNet". FemTechNet Commons. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  6. ^ Juhasz,Alex; Balsamo, Anne. "An Idea Whose Time is Here: FemTechNet - A Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC)". Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology. 
  7. ^ Naili, Hajer (August 15, 2013). "Feminists Launch Model for Online Learning". Womens eNews. 
  8. ^ 2013-2014 DOCC Nodes
  9. ^ Liss-Schultz, Nina (August 23, 2013). "Can These Students Fix Wikipedia's Lady Problem?". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ Nadeem, M. (August 21, 2013). "FemTechNet Launches Online Course on Feminism and Technology". Education News. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  11. ^ Commons, FemTechNet. "About FemTechNet". Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "FAQ for FemTechNet". FemTechNet. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Wikistorming: Colleges offer credit to inject feminism into Wikipedia". Fox News. September 6, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 

External links[edit]