This paper examines and exposes the writing and implementation of a project, funded by a federal government grant that worked to increase the technological literacy levels of women at an urban working-class university in the Midwest. This three-year study/intervention clearly reveals that disrupting the ‘digital divide’ for working-class women at our university, particularly women of color, requires engagements with the material and practical realities of their everyday lives. In addition to findings in relation to gender, race, low-income communities and technology, participation in this study/intervention illuminated for the authors—anti-racist, feminist academics and organizers—the consequences and costs of moving epistemological frameworks to acquire the needed resources to fuel our project. Shaping this project to pass in an ideologically ‘neutral’ landscape rendered us proficient in, and subsequently shaped by, this landscape. In exploring this research path, we name and expose conflicts over institutional ‘turf,’ the consequences of taking federal resources to pursue our agenda, the failures of the project, alongside the more data-driven findings of the project that relate to gender and technology. We analyze the most ‘successful’ and unimagined component of this project: the importance of creating spaces where students can participate as legitimate community members (for our population this means in part as paid workers) to learn technological skills without the notable presence of a teacher, a class or curriculum.

Note on the Author

Erica Meiners, Assistant Professor of Education & Women’s Studies. Northeastern Illinois University

Laurie Fuller, Associate Professor & Women’s Studies Coordinator. Northeastern Illinois University