Older women’s everyday data practices: affective affordances

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Caitlin McGrane, RMIT University

This project seeks to understand the everyday implications of the increased imbrication of technology into the lives of older women, especially uncovering tacit feelings, perceptions and uses. Drawing on creative methods with older women, we explore how interactions with data can provide insights into everyday life. Through workshops held in rural and urban spaces in Australia, participant groups are encouraged to critically reflect on the role of AI, automation and datafication in their perceptions and practices of aging. Mapping activities and collaborative group exercises are used to highlight some of the affective affordances (that is, possibilities and limitations) of digital technologies in women’s later lives.

Despite the persistence of ageist stereotypes, older people have some of the most diverse levels of digital literacy. Older women in Australia have been shown to have, on average, lower digital literacy than men and can lack confidence and knowledge around using technology. More research is therefore needed to understand the complexities of how gender intersects with the digital. This project research contributes to a broader project led by RMIT’s Larissa Hjorth titled Ageing in and through data: what can data tell us about ageing?, adding a gendered dimension to our interest in older people’s everyday experiences with data.