Facets: Issue 09

December 21, 2015

Diversity != Inclusion: Expanding the "diversity in tech" conversation

Tiffany Mikell
"[creating] a level playing field and [shifting] the biased social infrastructure we call the tech industry must go beyond panel discussions and weekend hackathons"

Following years of involvement in diversity initiatives, Mikell argues that our focus has become dangerously misplaced. The movement may have gained momentum, but problems haven't been solved— lip service has been paid, but inclusive work spaces have not been created. Mikell describes that our focus should be on offering ways to navigate the psychological toll of being a minority in tech and on creating inclusive workspaces without microaggressions. It’s only by going beyond discussion and creating these spaces that we can enable minorities to thrive.

Calling all Ladies, Dames and Fems: How Inclusive Spaces In Tech Harm the Communities Most in Need

Veve Jaffa
"very little nuance and understanding of intersectional experiences exist in these spaces, resulting in inclusivity statements that read as afterthoughts"

Another timely reminder about how difficult (but imperative) it is to create inclusive spaces, and the effects that errors in judgment can have. Veve Jaffa describes the awful experience of "being told to leave a space supposedly designed for me," and how dangerous these spaces can be when created by those with little understanding of what it is to feel marginalized. We’re encouraged to dig deeper, to understand, and to stop trying to put constraints on inclusive spaces.

What Really Keeps Women Out of Tech

Eileen Pollack
"I wonder how many young men would choose to major in computer science if they suspected they might need to carry out their coding while sitting in a pink cubicle decorated with posters of "Sex and the City," with copies of Vogue and Cosmo scattered around the lunchroom."

There have been many articles discussing why women may not entertain STEM careers; here, Pollack considers the environments that women will find themselves in when they enter a tech workforce. After entering the physics workforce, Pollack found that her identity as a woman was impacted negatively by the pressure her non-inclusive environments exerted on her. A necessary personal account of the biases created by the spaces we find ourselves in, and the science behind them.

Conference Inclusiveness

"I don't want to go to any more conferences that privilege "liberty" over hospitality. Because I've seen that there's a better way"

In a short but powerful post, Sheldon-Hess details the successes of AdaCamp and OpenSourceBridge in creating accessible and inclusive environments at their events. Such resounding successes single-handedly undermine the notion that holding such events is impossible: either too difficult or too expensive. The word Sheldon-Hess uses is "empowering," and goes on to describe practical ways of achieving that empowerment— from signage to terminology to physical space, and everything in between.

Where Are You Really From: Microaggressions and Making Tech Meetups Safe

Nasma Ahmed
"we have to be educated and understanding of what it means to have a safe and inclusive environment that caters to everyone."

In an arrestingly personal piece for Model View Culture, Ahmed also delves into the concept of identity— specifically, how the tech meetups we're all encouraged to attend can impact that identity. She describes the little moments, the microaggressions which mount and hurt and linger long afterwards in the memory, and reminds us that we are all responsible for eradicating those moments. "We get tired," she says, but is committed to being involved and fostering improvement— and we can all be inspired by that commitment.

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