Here are my notes from Ashe Dryden's talk in RuPy 2013 about diversity in tech.
What is Diversity?
- We often talk about "where are the women in tech?", it's more than gender
- Backgrounds, experiences, lifestyles. Not always visible. Sexuality, age, language, ability, socioeconomic class, race, physical & mental health.
- Intersectionality means the interactions of biological, social, and cultural traits that contribute to system inequality. Going through life is different based on your traits.
- Privilege - an honorary advantage you get just for being who you are, e.g. white and American. "Normal". You may get better education, access to tech earlier, higher pay, quality of social/proferssional network. You may also be also assumed competent more easily.
- Privilege is seen as a skill set instead of traits.
- Certain traits make it more to identify to a certain subculture. I.e. geeks.
- Stereotypes are things we believe to be true about certain groups. XKCD:s "You suck at math" vs. "Girls suck at math".
- Prompting a group based on their gender makes them perform worse.
- The Impostor Sydrome is being unable to internalize your accomplishments. "I could never give a talk at a tech conference". Even if you're excellent at what you do, there's a fear stopping you.
- Negative stereotypes about groups make the impostor syndrome more pronounced.
- Going to conferences is awesome. But a lot of people are afraid of it.
- A marginalized minority or sub-group is one that's excluded or having their needs or desires ignored.
- "Margins" are where the unimportant stuff goes to. Same applies for marginalization.
- Society teaches us to marginalize. Programmers may think of themselves as logical & rational ("I don't see gender or race"), but studies say even scientists and STEM professors do this to each other. The same resume is interpreted differently depending on gender.
How Diverse Is The Tech Industry?
- Women make up 24% of the tech industry. Including developers, designers, UX... Management not included in this number.
- Only 3% of OSS contributors are women. This affects hiring because companies look at GitHub, etc.
- Lack of diversity is a global problem. In Germany women make up 7% of tech graduates, 17%, other countries, no more than 25%.
- Are women not interested in programming? Well, women kind of invented it. First compiler, first programming language.
- Are women not "biologically predisposed" to programming? No physical or biological difference.
- Must be purely social and cultural constructs. That means we can defeat them.
In Bulgaria, 73% of CS grads are women. They are actively pushing it.
Lack of global inclusion is another problem. Americans dominate the tech world. Vast majority of OSS.
How does this affect shared spaces? People have closed GitHub issues because the reporter's English was too difficult to understand.
China is disconnected from the other tech community. They can't access Twitter. That cuts them off in many ways.
Lack of people from local communities in conference speakers (such as RuPy).
Why Does Diversity Matter?
- I.e. to me as a person, even if I'm a "white man".
- Increases revenue, number of customers, market share, profits relative to competitors.
- Complex problems solved faster.
- More creative and stimulated work communities.
- We make better decisions, generate more innovation.
Financial success and viability of companies, countries, is affected by diversity.
The wage gap is smaller in science and technology.
Not many famous role models for non-white males.
Less likely to see people who represent them in companies, conferences.
The geek stereotype: The geek is a white guy, socially awkward, doens't like being around women, lives in mother's basement. It's a shared cultural cue. People who don't identify it are turned off by those who do.
56% of women leave tech in 10 years. Twice as much as men.
Lots of harrassment. "But I've never seen someone get harrassed" -> That may be because we're so alike. Minorities are more likely to get harrassed.
We need to get to know people who are different from us. (Not only tech, but humans in general.) Getting outside of the bubble changes a lot of things - just knowing that different people exist.
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