Facets: Issue 05

October 24, 2015

Which Women in Tech?

Nicole Sanchez
"White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us."

The article that inspired this issue. The sentence above encompasses precisely how the ‘diversity’ movement is undermined when those leading it believe that ‘white women’ means ‘all women.’ Sanchez describes the emotional toll of expected assimilation, not just for women of colour but for those "non-white, older than 40, disabled, trans, not neurotypical, queer, from low-income backgrounds, and/or a host of other identities.” Acknowledging this dangerous implicit expectation is critical for achieving diversity on a large scale, and Sanchez’s article emphasizes that beautifully.

Expanding the Definition of Diversity — Asian Americans are not as homogeneous as you might think

Amado Guloy
"if you stop looking at the [Asian] community as a huge block that is homogeneous...you will see that not everyone has the priveleges that most people celebrate."

A short piece by Amado Guloy reminds us just how easy it is for the tech community to classify ‘Asians’ as one group. Asia also includes those of Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino, Malaysian, Laotian, and Hmong descent (among many others), and Guloy warns that grouping them all together leaves a whole host of people out of the diversity conversation.

Speaking Up As A Woman of Color At Work

Ruchika Tulshyan
"She found that she was only considered good if she didn’t speak up."

Tulshyan interviews eight women of colour for a story about their experience speaking up, pushing for promotions and making themselves heard. The women themselves describe a whole host of stereotypes to overcome, including that of ‘Angry Black Woman’ or 'quiet Asian woman,’ and describe situations where assertive behaviour is viewed with contempt because of these stereotypes. They offer practical advice to women of colour looking to speak up and assert themselves and their ideas in an environment which can be infuriatingly stifling.

#FFFFFF Diversity

Erica Joy
"The work, though seems to favor one group more than others: women. Whether by design or by inertia, the favor seems to land on white women in particular."

In this article, Erica Joy details how selective ‘diversity’ as a term can become, and how damaging that truly is. Using a conversation between Kara Swisher and Salesforce bigwigs Marc Benioff and Parker Harris, she highlights the nosedive that their “commitment to diversity” takes once it becomes very clear that their initiative only extends to white women. She shows how this kind of colourless diversity is present throughout various initiatives, including at the Grace Hopper Conference, and commits to using her platform to draw attention to that diversity initiatives seem to forget about.

Project Implicit

A non-profit aiming to unearth our unconscious biases.

I’ve only recently heard of Harvard's Project Implicit, a non-profit which aims to translate academic research on unconscious bias into practical applications for addressing diversity. As part of the project, you can take several kinds of free implicit association tests, no more than a few minutes long, which aim to unearth your biases on the topics of skin tone, sexuality, countries, gender, race, age, and weight. There are many caveats to all this, of course, but the results can be eye-opening&emdash; I know they were for me. You can also read about the scientists behind the tests, consult the FAQ for information about interpreting your results, and consult a bibliography of relevant research if you’re so inclined.