Vanessa Thomas – Defund Big Tech, Refund Community: Reflections and actions from a federal public servant

March 31, 12pm-1pm ET

Online event – please register here for Zoom link.

The Defund Big Tech, Refund Community report offered a call to action for many industries, organizations, and individuals—including but not limited to “Governments and Policymakers“. In this presentation, Dr. Vanessa Thomas (they/them, he/him, she/her) will draw on their experiences working in the federal public service—most recently as the lead researcher and manager for a feminist research team at Employment and Social Development Canada—to reflect on the Defind Big Tech proposals. Vanessa’s talk will address some of the challenges facing employees and teams who attempt to implement the government’s feminist commitments; drawing from those challenges, Vanessa will speculate about the future(s) of #govtech, #civictech and government digital services if we were to attempt to defund big tech. The presentation will involve prompts to encourage an active and open discussion amongst participants.

A portrait of Vanessa Thomas with glasses and a moustache

Vanessa Thomas, PhD, (they/them, he/him, she/her) is an anti-disciplinarian queer settler with training in computer science, design, management studies, feminist methodologies, and environmental studies, amongst many other fields. Vanessa currently works full-time for the Government of Canada, teaches part-time at Carleton University, and supervises graduate students part-time through HyperIsland. Vanessa’s research builds on the TechOtherwise platform’s Defund Big Tech report to explore how governments and policymakers could take active steps in the directions outlined there. For the past seven months, Vanessa has been drawing on their expertise in speculative design, digital innovation, feminisms, and leadership to try to establish a feminist technology research team at Employment and Social Development Canada. Vanessa has been undertaking this work from multiple locations in what is currently known as Canada.