Facets: Issue 17

April 16, 2016

The Speculum of the Other Brogrammer

Kate Losse
"The loud and tacky "brogrammer" is a false flag-- if you are not a brogrammer, the logic goes, you must be an outcast genius who has suffered long and would never oppress a fly."

Some may dismiss the term ‘brogrammer’ as just a reference to an stereotype, but just the use of the term can have far-reaching impacts. Kate Losse dissects the term, and describes the danger of what happens when the word ‘brogrammer’ decouples from the joke, when it becomes a real description of a person, an oppressive caricature, and an attitude that contributes to a toxic culture that we don’t want to perpetuate.

The Commoditization of Diversity

Mustefa Jo'shen
"A misconception that the term diversity carries, particularly in tech, is it’s referral to a problem as identified from the perspective of a homogenous, privileged, white male culture."

In this excellent essay, Jo'shen argues that, for all the trumpeting of successful diversity efforts, we still haven’t managed to effect long-lasting change, and for a very specific reason. He points out the inherent dangers of focusing on fixing the symptoms rather than the root cause of low minority representation: an underlying cultural mindset which contributes to bias, harmful power structures, and marginalization. Only once we address and change this cultural mindset can we achieve inclusivity.

Why Stack Overflow is a Good Workplace for Women

Donna Choi
"If a manager hires people who just fit in, it’s easy to “accidentally” create a monolithic culture that is quietly and consistently hostile to difference."

An inclusive, diverse workplace culture is a difficult thing to achieve, and Choi reminds us that we shouldn’t aspire to perfection— what matters is commitment. She details her experience of joining Stack Overflow, what they do to foster that culture, and where there’s room to improve. Among other things, she emphasizes how Stack define “culture fit," the importance of managerial attitudes (even in ‘flat’ hierarchies), and the importance of continually revisiting and critiquing their culture, to ensure that it remains supportive and committed to diversity, even if they don’t always get it right.

How Our Engineering Environments are Killing Diversity

Kate Heddleston
"Despite living as engineers every day, we're largely unaware of how our unconscious biases create an environment that is harmful to diversity."

A good accompaniment to Losse’s piece, Heddleston discusses the broader impacts of stereotypical engineering environments, the culture they create, and how that culture undermines diversity and inclusivity. Early tech founders may have instilled these cultures a long time ago, and their impacts echo into the present day— but contexts have changed, and so should our cultures. This is the first in a series of pieces. The next is titled Argument Cultures and Unregulated Aggression, but all of the articles are worth your time.

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