Facets: Issue 13

Feb 20, 2016

An intersectional take on technology, rights and justice

Beatrice Martini
"As human beings, we don’t have one-dimensional identities— we're all a combination of biological, social and cultural categories. We’re living intersections, we’re multi-dimensional. And so are the issues affecting us."

Martini digs deep into identities, into the intersections that make us up as human beings, and how the issues that face us in our day-to-day are just as complex. She describes how understanding intersectionality provides us with an invaluable perspective to use as a foundation when designing technologies and addressing marginalizations. She provides examples of projects which take this approach, and gives guidance on how to translate knowledge into strategy.

Decolonize, not diversify

Kavita Bhanot
"Who should read more 'diverse' literature? For whom is literature written by minority writers 'diverse'? For whom are minority writers 'diverse'? Can I describe myself as 'diverse' — do I exist in that space called 'diversity'?"

A while ago, Facets featured a piece which contested that ‘diversity’ has lost its meaning, and Bhanot forges a similar path here; she points out that ‘diversity’ only exists when there is some sort of neutral benchmark that is ‘neutral,’ and asks what that neutral point is. Her focus is largely in literature but the themes echo through the technology world as well. She addresses the problems with quick fixes, and asks the hard questions of efforts which only seek to categorize, to order, and points out the irony of attempts to put ‘diverse’ into a neat, defined box.

Not a Tech Bro, but a Tech Lady

Anonymous Author
"In an environment in which the fight for women in tech is hard enough, I often felt selfish and guilty for identifying as non-binary."

In this personal account of a ‘queer non-binary South Asian [dreaming] of intersectionality in tech,’ the author expresses conflicting emotions associated with the women-in-tech movement; it may be the largest diversity initiative, but its homogeneity can undermine other efforts to include race, class, and non-binary gender. At the same time, however, they describe the opportunities that exist for these organizations and projects to expand their framing, to embrace intersectionality and begin becoming accountable for the doors they didn’t know they were closing.

Resources

CODE2040’s Research Report On Intersectionality, Being Black and Latino/a in Tech, and the Barriers to Improving Diversity and Inclusion at Companies

The results of a survey conducted in August and September of 2015, this report aims to qualitatively begin to understand the experiences of CODE2040 participants— specifically the journeys and obstacles faced by young Black and Latino/a technologists. CODE2040 asks that we see the report not as a solution but an invitation, with suggestions for focus areas and foundations, so that we can understand the complexity of intersectionality, diversity, and technology before diving in and attempting to fix it.

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