Sisters, Lovers, and Monsters: A Feminist Utopian Design Approach to Menopause Wellness
Shaowen Bardzell

Menopause generally occurs when women are between their late 40s and early 50s. The end of one’s reproductive ability results in physiological, emotional, and social changes and is commonly understood as a women’s health issue. Yet menopause is also a political phenomenon that involves equity in healthcare, taboo, and various social experiences. Bardzell explores Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and design for women’s health in terms of feminist utopian theory and method, seeking glimmers of radically better futures in partial and fragmentary forms in the present. The critical practice is hopeful, materially engaged, and future-orientated. This talk develops a feminist utopian design approach featuring Bardzell’s collaborative work on menopause that involves empirical research into women’s menopause discourses and design activities that envision menopause experiences from a preferred future. The resulting feminist utopian design integrates empirical research and design intended to advance a deliberative discourse about HCI and design’s roles – and responsibilities – in contributing to women’s health and wellness.

Shaowen Bardzell is Professor of Informatics in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University and Affiliate Faculty at Kinsey Institute and Department of Gender Studies. Bardzell holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University and pursues a humanistic research agenda within the research and practice of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). A common thread throughout her work is the exploration of the contributions of feminism, design, and social science to support technology’s role in social change. Recent research foci have included care ethics and feminist utopian perspectives on IT, research through design, women’s health, and post-humanist approaches to sustainable design. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation, Intel Corporation, and the Mellon Foundation among others. She is the co-editor of Critical Theory and Interaction Design (2018) and co-author of Humanistic HCI (2015). She co-directs the Cultural Research in Technology (CRIT) Lab at Indiana University.