Reflection 5

This experience has been amazing and I learned so much about history of women and advertising, different ways advertisements affect our lives and what it means to be a working women in the US. But more importantly, I learned so much about myself and my own interests. After this internship, which gave me the opportunity to delve into the marketing world, I found that marketing is where my love for anthropology and business intersect.

I love my topic and thought my findings were really interesting. I started my research thinking that advertisements reflected the society they were in. As I looked closely to it, I found that there is more to it than the reality. Advertisements are really integral to our daily lives and our opinions on certain issues and through my project, I realized instead of just taking the information in, there is small details we, as a society, need to question. And those small details we don’t really think about set the standards for social ideals and normalize certain situations. Seeing how powerful advertisements are, I am excited to be involved in this industry, knowing that I could make a difference in this world through my contribution in advertising world.

Throughout these 6 weeks, I learned how to be a scholar. I learned the steps in doing a humanities research and that 6 weeks is really a short period of time to do a big project. I have so much more respect for all researchers now. There were a lot of decisions to make and all the small decisions I made were really hard. Before Digital Humanities, I didn’t really realize how every single decision you make shapes and your research in different ways and you have to be really careful with them, think thoroughly about every single one of them. They were all big decisions to me.

Also learning Tableau is another thing I got from this experience and I will show it off whenever I get a chance! I didn’t realize before I got into it how much it is used in business world, including data analysis. I can now confidently say that I know how to use this tool.

Looking back at it, seeing the title Digital Humanities and asking my friend who was a Digital Humanities Scholar last year what it is, getting confused, then talking to Sarah and just being super unfamiliar with all the tools she mentioned… I can say that I developed a sense of familiarity with digital tools now and the field of Digital Humanities.

Everything is becoming digital and adding this digital component to a humanities research enriches the experience. I loved my research, but I also loved building charts and galleries to support my findings. You cannot put 20 pictures on a paper, so having a digital platform to support your research only helps.

During my research, there was times I felt overwhelmed, stressed and rushed. Not knowing which direction to go as I started my research and trying to find a path, reading different articles on different things, talking to other people, all saying different things, trying to find data from all type of different resources… It was an exhausting 6 weeks and I would not be able to finish my project if it wasn’t for the people around me. All the librarians, professors, my fellow DH’ers and Sarah. I loved getting help from people, especially because I am the worst at making decisions, I loved having a variety of different topics and learning about all these different things and just having other people who were going through the same things as I did. And as the assignment says, this is only the beginning of a journey. I only have more questions now and I learned that questions push you to learn more. Next step is that I want to look at representation of minority groups in advertisements, maybe next year or maybe a few years from now. Doing my research, I realized there was barely any representation of women of color in advertisements and that is something I want to look at in future. So it’s not an ending, but only a beginning.

Reflection 4

I realized that comparing the data to how women are displayed in the advertisements, I cannot make big generalizations about the motives behind creation of ads; therefore, I decided to keep my project as an observational study. Where I am struggling is finding high-quality images of poster ads in the 1940’s from reliable websites. I found a website that categorizes ads by industry and year; however, it is created by a person and not a reliable organization. I am meeting Ana tomorrow to see if she has any suggestions about which resources to use, so I think that will be helpful. I was not able to meet the professors due to summer time and professors not being in their office as often, but I am meeting one of them next week and e-mailing the other one my questions. Hopefully, that will help me settle my topic and what type of data I am using. Also, I decided that I want to focus on fashion, food & beverages and technology industries since they all have different audiences.

Another problem I am facing is finding the data on women’s occupations in the 1940’s. I wanted to compare the data to images in the 1940’s and 2010’s and then compare those two to each other; however, I don’t know if that is going to be feasible due to accessibility of older data. Skimming through internet, I found some data, but I need to look more deeply into it to see if it is trustworthy.

So far, I started playing with Tableau and I figured out how to make simple charts. I will try stepping into more complicated ones and we’ll see how that goes. I also need to figure out how to embed charts into websites like Scalar. I just created a Scalar book, but I haven’t decided on chapter names or anything else yet.

This week I will focus on going through the books I have left and taking notes, trying to create more complex charts on Tableau and find a more reliable website for advertisements from the 1940’s.

Reflection 3

This week, I decided to make some twists in my project. Instead of looking at how advertisements shape society’s perspectives, I am not looking at how advertisements reflect culture. Therefore, I will look at data on occupations of working women, compare that data to working women displayed in the ads and analyze if the data aligns with how working women are displayed. I also limited the industries I will focus on into fashion, beverages and food; however, I am still creating a database of ads and I am trying to keep an open mind and be flexible with which industries to use. I also found more resources to use including a master’s thesis on “Female stereotypes in 21st century news and business magazines” and the book Manipulating images: World War II mobilization of women through magazine advertising. Finally I started experimenting with Scalar and Tableau. I already feel more comfortable with Scalar, but Tableau is taking time to figure out.

As for the articles, “Putting the Human Back into the Digital Humanities: Feminism, Generosity, and Mess” by Elizabeth Losh, Jacqueline Wernimont, Laura Wezler and Hong-an Wu and “Toward a Cultural Critique of Digital Humanities” by Domenico Fiormente were about what we have been discussing so far. They approach the exclusive nature of the field through different lenses. The article “Putting the Human Back into the Digital Humanities: Feminism, Generosity, and Mess” approaches Digital Humanities, and the technology field in general, from a feminist perspective and explores the contrast between the greater awareness on structural racism and sexism in the US and failure of reflection of the movement in interdisciplinary academic fields. Another issue is the Wikipedia example given in the article; while trying to address gender imbalance, Wikipedia created more imbalance and controversy. The article closes by explaining that there is some progress being made to decrease the gender gap and increase the inclusivity in the field of Digital Humanities. On the other hand, the article “Toward a Cultural Critique of Digital Humanities” looks at the Anglo-American identity of Digital Humanities. Fiormente questions the Anglo-American nature of the field and explains that even though there are fields like Digital Humanities around the world, they are made invisible by the Anglo-American hegemony in the academic research field. He then goes on to explore the geopolitics of DH and concludes his argument by offering “federation of diverse associations” model and encourages digital humanists to engage in reducing political, economic and social unbalances.

When introduced to Digital Humanities, like Fiormente mentions in his article, I thought the distinguishing factor for DH was the methodology, the fact that it is a collaborative research and includes a digital component where the research/data is presented. However, reading these articles and seeing the politics involved in the creation and progression of the field and realizing that it is just a reflection of the male-dominated technology industry is disappointing. On the contrary, the fact that at least these conversations are taking place and the gender gap is recognized give me at least some hope that some progress is being made in making Digital Humanities a more inclusive community.

Reflection 2

So far, I have been reading Working Women in America which is about the history of women working women, women in everyday jobs and gender inequality in workforce. I also have another book Women’s Magazines 1940-1960 which is about gender roles and the popular press and that will be useful in determining how magazines were structured after World War 2.

I also have been looking up different companies’ ads over different periods and Bureau of Labor statistics. I am trying to find a pattern between different companies in similar times and the statistics on Bureau of Labor. Determining which companies’ ads to use and excluding or including the exceptions are the what I am looking into currently. Jean Kilbourne’s documentary series Killing Us Softly is also a really interesting resource about the ideal image of woman that ads create. Although the documentary series is not about working women and more about the ideal beauty, it is still really helpful and interesting.

Looking at other digital humanities projects, I really like the exhibit on The Archigram Archive Project and I want to have a similar exhibit for the ads I am using in my project. I wanted to make a timeline, but I don’t think timeline will work especially because I will be looking at specific time periods rather than a continuous period. I also feel better about Scalar and I think it will give me a lot of flexibility since I can create different tabs for different things.

I need to start narrowing down my topic, but there are so many interesting resources that I don’t know how to narrow it down. I will read all the research done and documents I found so far within this week and hopefully will come to conclusion.

I still am not sure which time periods to focus on, but I found lot more interesting ads after World War 2 than during the 1970’s; therefore, I will probably focus on ads during World War 2 and maybe a little after, since the later ones display women as housewives whereas the ones during the war portray working women. As for the current ads, there are a lot of controversial ads belonging to 21st century.

Reflection 1

I expect this summer internship to be an opportunity for me to figure out what my interests are and hopefully further those interests. I am really interested in how ideas and perspectives are shaped. Therefore, I am interested in marketing and how advertisements affect the way people perceive others and the formation of stereotypes. I want to use this internship to go into more depth with the way advertisements shape perspectives and want to look at how the image of the working woman is shaped through advertisements. I also expect this internship to help me improve my research skills and overcome my weakness of technology.

When I was in high school, in my English class, we looked at propaganda techniques used during the World War 2 and how propaganda shaped the landscape in women’s role in the U.S. I really enjoyed the class and realized that advertisements do not only display the stereotypes, but they create them and play a huge role in normalizing them. This project also matters to me as a woman preparing to enter the workforce. I have done an externship at a financial services company where I was thought to be a man when only looked at my name. Because my name doesn’t give my sex away, they automatically thought I was a man since the field is male dominated. Also, last semester in my introductory psychology class, I based my research on gender stereotypes in the workforce and found that powerful positions in workforce were associated with male gender. I am excited to delve into how and why these perceptions are created and who creates them. I also am excited about the project, because it will give me an idea about marketing research and what the motives are behind the creation of ads.

Since we only have 6 weeks, I will need to narrow it down; however I don’t know how I will yet. I am planning to start with some readings next week, so I have an idea on where to focus once the program starts. I definitely want to circle my project around the image of the working woman, however, I am not sure what type of ads to use or what aspect of working woman to focus on. I also definitely want to look at today and compare it to another time which might either be 1940’s, which was a turning point for women in workforce in the U.S, or 1970’s, when the second wave feminism focusing on workplace inequalities took place.

I will be using scaler for my project and some coding might be involved. Having taken Computer Science 105 my first semester and ending up withdrawing it (I wasn’t lying when I said technology is a weakness of mine), that might be one of the challenges. Also, narrowing down resources will be a challenge since there is so many interesting ads about women in the workforce.

Besides all this, I know 6 weeks is a short time for all the ideas I have and I will just try to take one step at a time and not overwhelm myself or lower the quality of my research by trying to fit in too much in too little time. I will have my peers and librarians to always go to and ask for advice. So excited for this to start!