Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Marcia Dawkins


Photo Credit: Marcia Dawkins

Meet Digital Sisterhood Leader Marcia Dawkins, Ph.D., a citizen of the world with something to say! In the world of academia, Marcia is a visiting scholar at Brown University. When she leaves academia, she shares her gifts and opinions as an author, blogger, columnist, and speaker. Her forthcoming book, Clearly Invisible will be published by Baylor University Press in August. Guess what? It’s groundbreaking. Why? Because it’s the first to connect racial passing and classical rhetoric to issues of disability, gender-neutral parenting, human trafficking, hacktivism, identity theft, racial privacy, media typecasting and violent extremism. Click here to buy it.

Photo Credit: Baylor University Press

FUN FACTS: Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke met Marcia via email and a shared “digital sisterhood connection” to Ebony Utley, an associate professor at California State University, author, speaker, and blogger.  Ananda is a huge fan of Marcia’s work on media literacy and hacking. Click here to watch a video of her giving a brief history of hacking and hacktivism. Listen to her 2011 interview on Mixed Chicks Chat (one of Ananda’s favorite podcast series).

1) How can people find you online?

2) Why did you start using social media?

I started using social media as way to develop my identity and ideas in a way that would be as accessible as possible.

3) What has social media allowed you to do in your life (personal, professional, business, nonprofit, community)?

Personally, social media makes me a sharper writer, reader, and thinker.  Professionally, social media provides a global platform for networking and creative collaboration. In terms of community, social media allows me to help people make smart decisions about  who they are and how they engage with one another and the world.

4) In her 2011 Digital Women: from geeks to mainstream presentation that was given at the WIFT International Women Conference for Digital Women, Dr. Taly Weiss, a social psychologist and CEO/Founder of Trendspotting, concluded that “women are dominant digital users – they breathe and live digital.”  Dr. Weiss’ conclusion echoes BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media Matters Study findings.  They include 87 million women (18 to 76 years old) are now online, 69 million women use social media weekly, 80 million women use social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. These facts illustrate the power and presence women have in the digital space. Now that’s Digital Sisterhood!

How has social media helped you carve out leadership roles as you interact online and offline?

Social media helps me connect with “digital sisters” from all over the world. Many of these connections have become lasting friendships.  It’s a great advantage to be networked with smart, savvy women from nations, states, cultures, and communities different from my own… and it’s an even greater advantage to find similarities among our differences.

5) Social media has helped women become Digital Sisterhood Leaders, ambassadors of social expression who share what they are passionate about online.  In her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years (Fall 2012), Ananda Leeke, founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network, writes, “Without even knowing it, women have become Digital Sisterhood Leaders as they use their social media platforms to advocate causes; to build communities; to create apps, art, books, businesses, products, publications, services, tools, and webisodes; to curate content; to educate and inform; to give voice to their thoughts as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and brand ambassadors; to share information and experiences; to explore and experiment with new technologies as early adopters and trendsetters; to engage in social good; to influence others with their lifestyles and personal interests; to inspire and motivate; to mentor; to network; to tell their personal stories; and to promote and celebrate the expertise, gifts, and talents of others.  Based on my online and offline interactions, I have identified 12 key leadership roles they play: advocate, community builder, creator, curator, educator, influencer, mentor, motivator, promoter, social do gooder, storyteller, and thought leader.”

What other types of leadership roles do women play in social media?

If I could add one item to your list it would be global citizen.  I think women are using social media to share their unique experiences as “citizens of the world” that get around a lot of censorship and political oppression.

6) What types of leadership roles do you play in social media?

I am an advocate, educator, promoter, storyteller, thought leader, and global citizen.

7) What lessons have you learned as a leader in the digital space?

That everything I put out there is permanent and published.  I must come from a place of integrity at all times.  To see what I mean check out these videos — http://clearlyinvisiblebook.com/watch and these audios —  http://clearlyinvisiblebook.com/listen.

8) Do you have plans to expand your leadership roles in the digital space? If so, what are they?

Definitely!  In addition to writing for sites like Huffington Post, Cultural Weekly, Truthdig and The Root, I’ve started my own blog as part of my new interactive website about my first book, Clearly InvisibleIt is a content curation space for all news and updates involving the combination of racial passing and multiracial identities. I’m also co-editing Mixed Race 3.0, an e-book and web site about multiracial identities in the digital age.  And I’m starting a curation site related to my second book Eminem: The Real Slim Shady that will go live on March 1, 2013. The Eminem site will encourage online conversations about race, rap, identity, spirituality, and social/economic entrepreneurship in the digital age.  Hopefully Eminem himself will chime in too!

9) Who are your favorite social media women leaders and why?

Maria Popova (@brainpicker)  is one. Maria is the editor of the cutting-edge online magazine out of NYC called “Brainpicker.” She finds and curates new ideas about anything interesting and shows others how to do the same. Ebony Utley (@u_experience) is another.  Her ideas about communication, identity, popular culture, and relationships are changing the world and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next. You should definitely check out her curation site (http://www.RapAndReligion.com). And, of course,  Ananda Leeke (@DigitalSisterhd). I admire her ability to understand how and why women are using social media without forgetting the very real participation gaps that need to be overcome.

10) Share three ways women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brand.

  • Communicate your values, which serve as a kind of blueprint for your brand. Clearly communicated values keep the brand solid and consistent. Try to do this with as few words as possible.  Think “tweet” and “infographic.”
  • Pay attention to design.  Make sure your profiles and web presence look good, sound good (with a dose of humor), and are about doing good (with a focus on social awareness).
  • Mind the participation gaps.  Remember that for every digital sister you can reach online there are hundreds, maybe thousands, that you can’t.  Communicate with these sisters in mind too.
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