Contemporary history of Europe

Retrieve me if you can... Women and COVID through Web archives

The COVID crisis has been a shared worldwide and collective experience from March 2020 and lot of voices have echoed each other, may it be related to grief, lockdown, masks and vaccines, homeschooling, etc. However, this unprecedented crisis has also deepened asymmetries and failures within societies, in terms of occupational fields, economic inequalities, health and sanitary access, and we could extend the inventory of these hidden and more visible gaps that were reinforced during the crisis. Women and gender were also at stake when it came to this sanitary crisis, may it be to discuss the better management of the crisis by female politicians, domestic violence during the lockdown, decreasing production of papers by female research scientists, homeschooling and mental load of women, etc.

In December 2021, our AWAC2 team submitted several topics to the IIPC (International Internet Preservation Consortium) community and invited the international organization to select one of them that the team would investigate in depth, based on the unique IIPC Covid collection of web archives. Women, gender and COVID was the winning topic.

As a cohort team within the AUT (Archives Unleashed Team) program, the AWAC2 team benefited from a privileged access to this collection, thanks to Archive-It and through ARCH, and from regular mentorship by the AUT team. It allowed us to investigate and analyse this huge collection of 5.3 TB, 161 757 lines for the CSV on domain frequency CSV, 8,738,751 lines for the CSV related to plain text of web pages.

Accepting the challenge, the AWAC2 team organized a datathon in March 2022 in Luxembourg to investigate and retrieve the many traces of women, gender and COVID in web archives, while mixing close and distant reading.

This panel, chaired by Valérie Schafer, aimed to present this research, entwining technical, epistemological, and methodological issues and challenges with our results. Valérie Schafer began the panel by presenting an overview of the project, including a presentation of the IIPC corpus, of the AUT cohort program and of the research topic. Karin de Wild and Joshgun Sirajzade presented the AUT tools and interfaces, the technical challenges of the corpus, the choices we made (and notably with regards to multilingualism) as well as the tools and methodologies that were used. Finally, Susan Aasman and Sophie Gebeil presented some results and challenges of this research.

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