2021 Keynote

Mar Hicks

Credentials: (They/Them)

Mar Hicks is an author, historian, and professor doing research on the history of computing, labor, technology, and queer science and technology studies. Their research focuses on how gender and sexuality bring hidden technological dynamics to light, and how the experiences of women and LGBTQIA people change the core narratives of the history of computing in unexpected ways.

Hicks’s book, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge In Computing, published by MIT Press, won the 2018 PROSE Award for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; the 2018 Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology; the 2018 Stansky Prize from the North American Conference on British Studies; and, the 2018 Wadsworth Prize, awarded by the British Business Archives Council. Programmed Inequality is a cautionary tale that investigates why the proportion of women declined as electronic computing matured, and how this labor situation had grave effects on the technological aspirations of that waning superpower. It shows what lessons this holds for other nations, especially the United States, and how history can help us make sense of the present and the future by focusing not just on technological success stories, but also stories of technological failure.

Hicks is currently an Associate Professor of History at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, teaching courses on the history of technology, gender and sexuality studies, modern European history, and disasters. In 2018-2019 Hicks was also a fellow at the National Humanities Center, working on a new book about the prehistory of trans algorithmic bias, the gendered nature of digital infrastructure, and the intersections between queerness and resistance in the history of digital computing. They also have a new co-edited book coming out in Spring 2021 from MIT Press called Your Computer Is On Fire, about how we can begin to fix our broken high tech infrastructures. Check their twitter feed for upcoming events or read more about their work at marhicks.com.