Dear white men of Omaha

We need men who have the courage and strength to break our complicit silence about gender inequity in our city

Rebecca Stavick
May 27, 2018 · 3 min read

Gentlemen, four items for your consideration:

1. Women in Omaha do not have access to the same opportunities as men.

The reality of gender inequity in Omaha shows the world that our business community is far from cutting-edge or future-focused. This data indicates poor leadership, and it should embarrass us all.

Women’s Fund of Omaha, Women in Leadership (2016) Report

2. Gender inequity is a men’s issue.

Gender discrimination usually occurs at the hands of those in power, which are currently and historically white men. And yet, men have been erased from this dialogue entirely. If you do one thing today, watch Jackson Katz’s explanation of this phenomenon:

3. The situation for women in technology is dire.

Only 23% of Omaha’s tech workers are women, and nationwide, women are leaving tech because they are “treated unfairly; underpaid, less likely to be fast-tracked than their male colleagues, and unable to advance.Women of color in the tech industry are even more severely underrepresented.

Lack of gender and racial diversity in Omaha’s tech community is devastating to our economy. Let’s break this down:

— Technology fuels our business community.

— Technology is only as good as the teams who build it.

— Diverse teams challenge each other and consistently outperform monoculture teams.

— With monoculture teams, Omaha can expect to produce weaker businesses and products than other cities.

“I want white men to look around in their office and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change this…Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that? There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me. Ya’ll fix it. Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise.” — Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer at Uber

4. Gentlemen, it’s time to make the noise

Here’s the secret: you don’t have to know all the answers, and little actions go a long way, especially if hundreds or thousands of us start paying attention and speaking up. Here are a few small ways you can get started:

— Take and share the Project 18 survey. Project 18 is a movement to establish Omaha as the best city in the U.S. for women in tech. We’re launching a survey (for people of all genders) to gather data for the first time in Omaha on the current landscape for women-in-tech. Help us.

— Start where you are. Talk about this with your colleagues, your team, your friends, and family. Share articles. Ask questions. Seek feedback. Google it.

— Dedicate time to developing your leadership skills. Don’t be a passive bystander, as mentioned in Katz’s video. Hold other men accountable when you see or hear inappropriate behavior.

— Remind yourself that people are Omaha’s greatest asset. Write that down on a post-it note and put it in your office. Think about ways we can invest in our people, and develop our people, so that we can create a better future for our city.

Rebecca Stavick

Written by

executive director. techie. librarian. metalhead. hacker. humanist. ENTJ. personal account. views are my own.

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