Facets: Issue 06

November 7, 2015

Microaggressions and Erasure of Disability in Diversity Discussions

Kayla Whaley
"I've started dreading these conversations because they inevitably turn into a string of microaggressions and erasures. It's in the way disability is so rarely listed in definitions of diversity... It's in all the ways we’re ignored, erased, or trampled on during these discussions."

Thanks to @ibroadfo for bringing this wonderful article to my attention; it inspired this issue. Whaley begins the article with an admission that she doesn't know if she even should write it, but I'm very glad she did. Her incisive, powerful description of how disability is lost in diversity discussions closes with a simple, moving entreaty to something we all take for granted— being seen, acknowledged, and included.

Thoughts on Diversity Part 2. Why Diversity is Difficult.

Leslie Miley
"With my departure, Twitter no longer has any managers, directors, or VPs of color in engineering or product management."

Widely shared but for good reason, this piece details Miley's experience in leaving Twitter. He turned down his severance package so that he could write about his experience, literally paying a price to speak up. One remarkable lowlight includes a senior V.P. stating, "diversity is important, but we can't lower the bar." In losing Miley, Twitter have lost a tireless leader that could have helped them follow through on their diversity commitments— they are instead the end of a sharp, well-deserved reprimand.

The Stories of 'Women In Tech' That We May Never Hear

Julie Ann Horvath
"Speaking up internally is scary. But.. even participating in 'diversity work' or pointing out the underrepresentation of women and other minorities in your workplace can put a target on your back."

A piece about the consequences of speaking up, and the onslaught that can follow. Horvath's experience with Github has given her an (admittedly unwanted) insight into those consequences and the unjustifiable labeling of proactive women and minorities as 'complainers.' Critically, she emphasizes that silence does not mean success, but something far worse: the victimized are not empowered to speak.

Sexism in Tech: Don't Ask Me Unless You're Ready To Call Somebody a Whistleblower

Katy Levinson
"I've got a lot of almost-rehearsed level responses to most questions about sexism in tech... all worded mildly and inoffensively because I fear being labeled as a liability."

A raw, intensely personal look at Levinson's experiences with rape and sexism within the tech community and why, when she's asked about the issue, she'd rather her response be "please don't ask me." Those who speak out often aren't offered meaningful support— instead, they are labelled as "liabilities." Levinson reveals the building blocks of true diversity commitment: recognizing our mistakes, as well as protecting and trusting the experiences of those who have suffered as a result of those mistakes.

Speaking About Diversity at Tech Conferences Can Be Discouraging

A reminder to keep speaking, if we can, from Christina Truong

When we do choose to speak out— in Truong's case, by way of a conference talk— it doesn't always turn out the way we hope. When that talk is intensely personal, it can feel all the worse. Truong perseveres, speaking because "it's important to me [and] to the people that took the time to come." A useful reminder that, even when we think our words are falling on deaf ears, there is always someone who will feel just a little bit less alone.

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