A conversation with the team of women behind the “dragon animal spirit” website

GenderIT.org has a vibrant new face, and the people responsible for this renovated look and feel are the women who make up our website development team: visual designer Ezrena Marwan (Malaysia), and developers Liz Probert (England), Sam Marx (South Africa) and Sarah Escandor Tomas (Philippines). All of them are women’s rights activists deeply committed to developing technology to meet women’s needs. Learn more about them, their impressions and feelings about the process, the challenges they faced and the results of the website facelift, through this conversation with the GenderIT.org editorial team.



GenderIT.org: Which section of the website do you enjoy the most and why?



Sara Escandor Tomas: I don’t have one section to say it’s the only one I enjoy reading. The articles are insightful, but I like the Feminist Talk section as you get to read about women’s voices on issues. The DJ section is hip, insightful and fun, and there are gems in the Publications section too, like this one: From string theory to clothes wringers: A historical map of women shaping science and technology. And the Editions section gives you a substantive collection of readings about issues.



Ezrena Marwan: My only source of GenderIT.org articles is via social media, like Twitter or Facebook. When it appears on my timeline or if I see something particularly interesting, I will read it.



Liz Probert: I rarely get time to read the articles, but when I do it would most likely be after seeing a tweet that looked interesting in my feed. Having worked on the site I have got a bit more familiar with the different sections, and I particularly like the DJ’s Choice as it is a really quirky format.



Sam Marx: I do get in a lot of catching up though when we’re building the site and working on all of the different sections! I like Feminist Talk the most, because it’s from a variety of different writers with a very accessible tone and style of writing.



GenderIT.org: What do you like most about the new design?



SET: I like the clean look and focus on the content.



Ez: I like that it looks a lot more like an editorial now. I like the new minimalist style and clean lines.



Liz: Simplicity, bright colours and typography; the content is now more prominent and so are the authors.



Sam: The new design is very exciting to me. I feel that it has taken the site to a more mature place and that it is one of the finest works by Ez, our designer. The design is fresh and uplifting, and does a lot to make reading the content, which is of a very high quality, enjoyable. It also profiles the people doing the work really beautifully.



GenderIT.org: What was the most challenging moment for you, when working on the new design?



SET: I couldn’t identify the one most challenging thing, but there were several challenges within this development. For example, keeping the development to the essential features of the website to keep it within a tight budget and tight timeline – and to do that I needed to coordinate closely with our GenderIT.org team. Working on the project purely in the virtual environment plus the time zone differences of each member of the team contributed more to the challenge.



Ez: I think the most challenging thing for me was to decide on the look and feel of GenderIT.org. I researched on various editorial sites, like Wired and FastCoDesign. They are very masculine, in the type of fonts used, the colours, lines and layout – hard, blockish, confident and slick at the same time. I wanted to disrupt that visual narrative and give it a feminist voice, hard and edgy – embrace the lines and blocks because… “internet policies through a feminist lens” is pretty kick-ass.



Liz: The time zones do make things more complicated certainly! And also time management was a particular challenge for me to get everything completed (almost) on schedule. Of course there were also technical challenges, particularly with the writers profile section and getting the right content matched up with the right authors retrospectively.



Sam: I think that because we are working in a team of intelligent people, there are a lot of exciting ideas that come out that we all want to build into the site, but run out of time. This always happens on every project.



GenderIT.org: If you had to describe the new site as a personality, who it would be?



SET: I couldn’t think of one person, as there are a lot of women with these traits. A woman – plain, thinks deeply, and courageous.



Ez: A woman with a dragon animal spirit. Strong with a lot of courage and looking at the world from a slightly different point of view.



Liz: Outgoing and funky, a serial coffee-drinker with strong political views and eclectic taste in music!



Sam: I want to say that the new site is a combination of everyone on our team! It is serious, it is fun, it is strong, it is easy to like… the more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m thinking that this site is a combination of the personalities of the women who made it.



GenderIT.org: What was the best part of working with the rest of the team?



SET: In the Philippines, we have this bayanihan custom that means working and helping together – generally this is traditionally used when the community works together to lift and physically move a nipa hut [1] from one place to another. I’d say we have this bayanihan spirit within the team. The work and involvement of each is not limited to how much we are getting paid from the project, rather everyone is focused on delivering what is best for the project, even if that means giving their extra mile (extra hours) to the project. We’ve worked on several projects already, and it’s always a great experience working with Liz our geeky web developer, Sam our awesome theme developer, and Ez our rockstar web designer. This is our dream team!



Ez: I’ve worked with the same team for years. We know our rhythm pretty well I think. It is the dream team.



Liz: I really like working with this team, everyone is committed and works really hard but they are also great fun to work with at the same time, and without the fun it would make it much harder to work as virtual team. It is strange that some of us have never actually met and it would be nice to all go out to celebrate the launch, but that is tricky over Skype!



Sam: Every person on the team is supportive, hard working, passionate and intelligent! What more could someone hope for, to be working with people like this?



GenderIT.org: How do you feel after such long hours of intense work, being able to see the work finalised and being used by many people from different regions?



SET: Even if it was intense, at the end of the project, everyone from the team is pleased, happy and victorious. It feels great that way.



Ez: I’m humbled and proud at the same time.



Liz: It is very rewarding to see it complete and that already the team have had some great feedback, so people really seem to like the new look and feel of the site .



Sam: This is a complete high! It is indescribably thrilling. I hope that it inspires change and critical thinking, and also more contribution to the cause.

Footnotes: 

[1] A nipa hut is a type of stilt house indigenous to most of the lowland cultures of the Philippines. It often serves as an icon of broader Filipino culture, or, more specifically, Filipino rural culture.

Responses to this post

Great site indeed full of useful information! Thanks to the great team of extraordinary ladies for creating them :)
Posted on 06/09/2015 - 10:48 | Reply

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