Facets: Issue 30

January 21, 2017

Are We Missing the Mark on Diversity and Inclusion in Tech?: A Multi-Part Series Highlighting Black Experiences

Angelica Coleman
"without the recognition of racial discrimination as a root problem, how can tech ever solve their diversity issues?"

In the first of a multipart series, Coleman presents data which shows once again that qualified Black candidates are knocking on tech’s doors; they’re just being discriminated against. A dogged focus on "the pipeline problem" is dangerous— we are ignoring data within tech and society at large to avoid confronting our own biases. In the process, we are solving the wrong problems and undermining diversity.

How Lever Got To 50–50 Women and Men

Kim-Mai Cutler
"Diversity is about having a workforce with...different backgrounds. But inclusion is about whether those differences are leveraged to produce the best product and company culture possible"

Success stories in tech diversity are rare. At Lever, though, women make up 43 percent of technical roles, and 53 percent of management. Cutler details how Sarah Nahm and her co-founders achieved it; first, they decided together on their values, and wrote about their experiences of what diversity means to them— at all levels of the company. These values become concrete practices which foster diversity and inclusion alike, championed by leadership.

A Dao of Product Design

Faruk Ateş
"Your life experiences instill certain values and biases into your way of thinking. These, in turn, color your design process and leave an imprint behind in the product."

Inclusive design begins with empathy— an awareness of the psychological impacts of our products on those who use them. "The user" is a human being, after all. In a measured, nuanced piece on the impact of our own biases on product decisions, we are reminded that technology is a reflection of those who build it, and that algorithms are not neutral. Every decision which shapes the tech we build is an opportunity to affect others positively— and enable them to be great.

Keep the Internet Weird

rachel white
"Thinking about all the ways I had learned to design and code early on in my life, I had never [thought] about how it was because of other women finding their own way and wanting to encourage others."

An ode to the early internet; white cringes at her old self's blog posts, but remembers fondly the online friends and communities from her teenage years. A personal story as well as a rallying cry; white reminds us that while we may have lost our way, we may be able to find direction and inspiration in our past. By looking at the spaces in which we previously felt safe, we can build on them again.

Fitbit is failing on its mission

Sam Morgan
"Fitbit's current approach is not supporting the resolution of Gender Dysphoria, as their mission states. Instead, it's building dysphoric experiences into their product."

Morgan is not part of a minority in tech, but this piece is a sharp indictment of Fitbit which, by clumsily asking for a user's gender, is building discrimination into their product. By describing a solution which gathers the required data in a considerate way, without compromising Fitbit’s benefits or the user’s private information, Morgan sharply indicates that the company simply doesn't care enough about inclusive design. They should.

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