Response to Edin Kapic’s “The dark, hidden side of our technical communities”

I was going to just leave this as a comment on Edin Kapic’s (@ekapic) recent post The dark, hidden side of our technical communities, but I decided I wanted to put it up here instead to make it more visible. (A post usually gets more attention than a comment.)

Image source: http://www.ywcahbg.org/programs/diversity-forum#.V5DgULgrKUk

Image source: http://www.ywcahbg.org/programs/diversity-forum#.V5DgULgrKUk

Every time I read something like Edin’s post, it makes me feel truly bad. I want to treat everyone equally, but that doesn’t really work, either.

One of the joys in life is our human diversity. It goes way beyond what are called “protected classes” here in the USA. People are all different and that’s what makes life interesting. I want to have conversations about those differences and try to understand the ones that can be understood. If we treat everyone the same, we lose out on that festival of variety.

Image source: http://www.joepaduda.com/2015/10/health-wonk-reviews-overflowing-cornucopia/

Image source: http://www.joepaduda.com/2015/10/health-wonk-reviews-overflowing-cornucopia/

At the same time, tech is absolutely, no questions asked, a man’s game.

Image source: http://www.biztechmagazine.com/article/2012/06/fathers-technology-10-men-who-invented-and-innovated-tech

Image source: http://www.biztechmagazine.com/article/2012/06/fathers-technology-10-men-who-invented-and-innovated-tech

I don’t really understand why that is, where it starts for each promising young female, etc. But I do know that I can do my own best effort to make the women around me feel empowered to do tech if that’s what they want to do. Since hiring Julie Turner (@jfj1997) (in truth we started out more equals than anything else), we’ve had lots of discussions about this sort of thing. I value the different viewpoints she brings to my thinking when we talk about things like speaking at conferences, or business travel, or how to talk in a crowd of techies.

Unfortunately, at the same time that it seems like humankind is becoming more tolerant (LGBT-focused legislation, discussions about women in tech, etc.), it’s also becoming less tolerant (political-driven bigotry and xenophobia, religious zealots, etc.)

I think the best motto for all this might be the old “think globally, act locally”. If we each do our part to make the tech world a better place, it will be. Unfortunately, many other members of the community will also be doing their darnedest to do the opposite. And so it goes…

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughts, Marc! Clever as always. I think that until we have a more balanced and diverse community, we shouldn’t treat everyone the same way: we should lean in to the more under-represented members of the community.

    I absolutely agree about the “think globally, act locally” part. We can only influence a small amount of actions, but it’s not a small feat to actually do it. For me, raising awareness and removing hidden bias in my community is already a big challenge.

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  2. A lot of it is “location, location, location!” I work in LA — that’s Lower Alabama, not CA. I think I’d be having a totally different experience in California, even if I were only the token girl on the team.

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