Remote Online Harassment During COVID19

From TCU Wiki

Workshop: Remote Online Harassment During COVID19: How To Study Harm, Trauma and Violence Online with an Intersectional and Racial Justice Lens

  • Who: McKensie Mack and Yang Hong
  • Date: Thursday, May 13th
  • Language: English

Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on remote work and the tech workforce, with individuals facing increased risks in areas like online harassment and overall violence directed at them. Join us for collaborative conversations with leading researchers - McKensie Mack and Yang Hong - who have been studying the phenomena from an intersectional lens. Notably, their most recent report is one of the first to include impacts on trans and non gender binary respondents. Specifically they will address:

  • Results of their findings, which overall has seen an increase in harm and hostility against different types of workers.
  • How to engage in intersectional data science, and safe user research
  • This is a conversation not to be missed!

McKensie Mack (pronouns: they/them) is the founder and CEO of MMG. Black-led and nonbinary-led, MMG is a global social justice organization and change management firm that actually changes structures. McKensie is a trilingual anti-oppression consultant, researcher, facilitator, and policy designer from the Southside of Chicago specializing in organizational change management at the intersection of race, gender, class, disability, and LGBTQIA+ identity.

Yang Hong works as Shoshin Insights, a data and machine learning consultancy with a justice-centered approach for societal issues. She has raised community with Work On Climate, Activist Teahouse, South Park Commons, and others. Yang is an apprentice to lifelong practices of tea and collective liberation.

>> Check out notes from other sessions here


  • They did the report to help companies understand what is happening and what they need to do.
  • It's hard to know what people are going through or know if they are okay. In today's environment most likely they are not. Trauma has taken on extreme levels as we experience unprecedented catastrophes.
  • In the USA alone, the pandemic has taken 500,000 lives, and disproprtionately impacted people who are disabled, immunocompromised, Black, Latinx/Hispanic, Indigenous/Native American, Asian/Asian-American, women and from lower socioeconomic groups.
  • There is political disinformation and exclusion.
  • Systematic racism ranging from ongoing police brutality against Black people, a 1900% increase of anti-Asian hate crimes since the pandemic, and ongoing antisemitism, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, and transphobia with increasing displays of white supremacy
  • They had 3,000 respondents who answered 120 questions and came from 48 countries.
  • 85% had increased anxiety at work
  • 1 out of 3 people don't trust their company to respond to harm.
  • 54% of respondents feel pressure to be online outside of work. They also felt that managers are expecting them to be available, pressure to work longer hours.
  • 64% say they have longer working hours since covid-19
  • Since Covid-19, 1 in 4 people experienced an increase in gender-based harassment. 98% who experienced increased gender-based harassment were women and/or nonbinary people.
  • People who identify as transgender are nearly twice as likely to experience more gender-based harassment than those that identify as cisgender.
  • 1 out of 10 people have experienced an increase in race/ethnicity-based hostility. 94% of people who experienced increased hostility were multiracial, latinx/hispanic, Asian/Asian-American, and especially Black/African American.
  • Sometimes people dont even know they are experiencing that violence. We are conditioned to see that violence as normal out of survival.
  • Women and nonbinary people are much more likely to have experienced race-based hostility. Black people are most likely to have experienced increased hostility, regardless of gender.
  • There is a need and opportunity for systemic change, that addresses deep seated, structural problems within the tech industry that should be removed as part of this rethinking of how we work. Solutions should be centered and informed by the worst experiences, and people most harmed. They should improve all experiences for all people.
  • Their recommendation:

- Change leadership - Hold leadership accountable - Give people time off - Make mental health a priority - Lead by example - Focus on impact over activity

  • Data equity means deeper understanding. They had a unique approach to designing the research methods. Their approach had 6 focuses, but the two they want to highlight are Power Analysis and Dis-Aggregation Principles
  • Power Analysis: Examine what systems of injustice exist here? How does it affect the data? How does it affect us, the researchers and audience.
  • Dis-Aggregation Principles: What do we miss by only looking at "everyone" in aggregation? How does data equity reveal deeper understanding
  • Some participants that were in the workshop mentioned that in certain places in Europe, you are not allowed by law to ask about people's race. This means that data can't be examined from this viewpoint. Several participants expressed this is problematic, since it doesnt allow to understand the impact race has on specific contexts.
  • Data (how you create and look it, is a story that we choose and also an outcome of power. Researchers need to understand this.
  • There are three kinds of questions that help us understand how injustice in power dynamics shows up in work:

- Who is harmed, who is helped? In what ways? Are benefits and burdens distributed across different people

- Who has the power in decision-making, and who is left out? How?

- Whose needs are recognized, and whose needs are ignored. How are people 's experiences made visible or invisible when informing decisions? Why are things measured in a certain way?

- Disaggregation for Equity. Its important to do a more intersectional analysis of how gender is involved in race-based hostility at work in 2020. By gender, the average was 7% men and 15% women and/or nonbinary people experienced an increase in race-based hostility at work in 2020. However, this figure was not very representative of anyone's experience because it was aggregate. If they didn't look at data in a disaggregate way, they would have failed to see patterns of harm.

  • Aggregating everyone disproportionately emphasizes the race-based hostility experiences of 57% of white respondents - only 1% of white respondents said they had experienced in race-based hostility. In other words, if you have a survey and more than half are white, and you aggregate everyone, you are failing to see the experiences of those that are not reflective of the majority. This does not tell the story of folks that are non-white. When they disaggregated, they saw that 18% of men and 31% of women and/or nonbinary people who identify as Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, multiple races/ethnicities, said they felt an increase in race-based hostility. This twice as high as the initial average.
  • Another example: Only 7% of respondents were Black. The average would not have shown their experiences. When they disaggregated they saw that 41% of Black men and 43% of Black women and/or nonbinary people said they experienced an increase in race-based hostility. Women and/or nonbinary people were 2x as likely as men to experience race-based hostility for people any non-black and non-white racial/ethnic identities. This racism was expressed in various ways at work.
  • The more they disaggregated, the more deeper understanding they had of things that potentially could have remained invisible. For example, they found that more South and Southeast Asian woman experienced an increase in race-based hostility than East Asian or multi-racial/ethnic Asian women or East Asian men.
  • We think of absolutism when looking at data, but maybe there isn't absolutism. Its important to engage in conversations with your fellow researchers to talk through things. Keep up and bringing it up because we are conditioned to accept marginalization and harm.
  • To disaggregate data for any group of people you have to make sure the:

a) Survey design allows for more granular choices informed by consulting with the communities you are studying b) You have enough respondents of that group of people for the questions you are interested in.

  • The design process is very re-iterative. However, note, its also dangerous to categorize people, especially if you dont ask people to self-select. The data itself is not doing the decision making, but the approach looking at the data does. Ask: where is someone's experience really different than the other. What is a global experience? For example, they weren't going to look at mental health, but they did because the number of people responded thought it was important.
  • Its important to design surveys that allow room for specificity and complexity, including having open-ended, write in options. Also, be aware of who responds and who doesn't respond to a survey, make outreach and compensation efforts with representation in mind.
  • Some participants from Europe shared that they are unable to talk about race openly. They dont have a culture that can discuss the violent history of colonialism, racism very openly, even if they have better social benefits than in the US. Non-white folks are told not to complain/instigate on these type of issues, because of the high quality of life, which can impact non-white's folks sense of being and identity.
  • Participants mentioned that lack of internet is a harm. This is because it marginalizes and excludes people. Harm is born out exclusion.
  • Other participants mentioned the lack of basic concern for folks. Asking people "how they are doing" is so important.