Diversity in the Technology Field

In Class Discussion

Leading Question: How would technology products be different if there were more diversity in technology fields?

Think About: Would features be different in pre-existing apps? Would we have different products all together?

Intel, Apple, and Google are three of the largest technology companies in the world. While they share the same field of business, they also share a problem in diversity. All three of these companies acknowledge the importance of diversity and want to combat biases in the work place.

Google’s diversity training workshops, which began last year and which more than half of Google’s nearly 49,000 employees have attended, are based on an emerging field of research in social psychology known as unconscious bias. These are the hidden, reflexive preferences that shape most people’s worldviews, and that can profoundly affect how welcoming and open a workplace is to different people and ideas.

Exposing Hidden Bias at Google (NYT)

The field of STEM, particularly Computer Science has recently become male- dominated. All of these companies have been trying to create diversity through different means. As shown above, Google has created workshops for their employees to sit through. While this workshop (which is available here) is very interesting and informative, it may not be solving the problem. Apple has been donating money to connectED, a program that supports economically troubled schools. Intel has created diversity quotas that need to be filled, the disadvantages of these quotas are obvious. Since these companies are trying to create diversity, what would these companies look like if they were more diversified?

First, diversity contributes significantly to innovation. A room full of diverse perspectives fuels creativity, drives thought-provoking conversations, challenges prevailing perspectives, and offers a new approach to solutions for vexing problems. Imagine the collective creative intelligence in a room full of diverse individuals versus that of a room full of sameness.

How Diversity Fuels Innovation (Glassdoor)

While the benefits of a truly diversified company are just speculation for the time being (considering no one has achieved this yet). I think it is apparent that we would have more products that focus on minorities (within the STEM field). I am sure plenty of technologies would be designed specifically for women. For example, recently an Indie GoGo page for a “menstrual pain off switch” has become increasing popular raising over a million dollars. Similar breakthroughs will undoubtedly become a reality.

I do believe that we will create new technologies, but I do not think that are pre-existing technologies will change much. One school of thought is that are current technologies are designed by men, so they may also be subconsciously tailored towards men. To rephrase, one may think how the layout of Facebook could be different, if a female had developed it. I personally would dismiss any similar argument because I do not think that our software limit another group’s ability to use it nor are tailored to any single group of people. To give another example, I think Twitter would still look like Twitter if the project was spearheaded by women.

Lets discuss the leading question (from above) and hear other people’s opinions.

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