Facets: Issue 18

May 5, 2016

Making Tech Spaces Safe for Diverse Faces

Anjuan Simmons
"Technology events can be extremely empowering experiences for planners, speakers, and attendees. However, this empowerment is only fully experienced if you’re a straight, cis white male."

Simmons’ article focuses on the environments that tech events create, and how those environments impact minorities’ experiences of those events, to the point of being harmful. Simmons offers a guide for creating safer spaces, as well as tools to help others report negative experiences. A key of the piece is the discussion of both physical and digital spaces as outlets&emdash; providing digital alternatives for harassment reporting (dedicated e-mail addresses, for example) as well as material safe rooms.

The need for inclusive spaces: a personal story

Ron Bronson
"I've worked in places where people have entire departments allocated to diversity, but inclusiveness is the kind of environment where people actually talk to each other and communicate."

Having been a part of tech since the 90s, Bronson chronologically details a personal experience of the industry, from the sparks that ignited a love for tech, to the importance of early support and empowerment, to the harshness of others’ inexcusable behaviour. Yes, it may take hard work to build an environment, physical and otherwise, which fosters empathy, access, and inclusion— but that work is not optional.

On Being Non-Binary in Female-Centric Spaces

Sam Escobar
"there are so many groups and social circles that insist non-binary folks are welcome that, in reality, use gendered language, generalizations and even the occasional body shaming."

When a space we had hoped would be safe suddenly turns out to be otherwise, it can be disheartening at best and harmful at worst. That’s precisely the experience detailed in this piece— being both passively and aggressively excluded from tech spaces (and not just female-based ones) which espouse inclusiveness and empathy. We are reminded that truly inclusive spaces accommodate those who are questioning, fluid, or occupy multiple spaces at once.

On Being Black and Queer in Tech

"I was seeking a community, heaps less racism, and a general location to begin the deeper internal healing and strengthening work that needed to undo the mis-education of white supremacist histories."

In this piece, Morgen describes how their harsh experience of tech spaces can inspire minorities to reinvent them. They describe the experience of being young, scared, and lonely in a space which constantly demands a justification of one’s presence in it— but persevering, bolstered by the hope that those with the same experience exist and will continue to press forward, creating their own spaces from which to become architects of society.

Project Include

Project Include is a formidable group effort to accelerate diversity efforts in the tech industry. The site offers recommendations for leaders at early to mid-stage tech startups, hoping to make improvements, fast. Project Include has been the work of Erica Joy Baker, bethanye McKinney Blount, Tracy Chou, Laura I. Gómez, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Freada Kapor Klein, Ellen Pao, and Susan Wu, and they’re looking for people and companies to join them, to contribute to the community and share experiences.

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