Hey White Women- Stop Championing Diversity In Tech
White women, let’s chat. There’s this movement to increase diversity in tech, give opportunity to the underrepresented, bring diverse ideas to innovate on solutions, and more. Companies are making their diversity numbers transparent, being real about the number of brown folks they hire, and working actively to attract more because of the real value of diversity. Funny thing — every time I see a roundtable, meetup, or discussion group, there’s a bunch of white chicks on the cover/picture/billboard/flyer. Can you tell me why?
We had this debate back when black women were fighting for the right to be a person. Remember when we weren’t a full person, and couldn’t sit at the same lunch counters or drink from the same water fountains? It wasn’t that long ago, huh? We joined you in your fight, which was equally important in my opinion, to live free of patriarchal reign. And you became the face of feminism while we (black women) were regulated to being divergent and disobedient, or militant and a threat.
Again, where there are scores of smiling brown faces that could be the speaker for, face of, and voice behind the diversity in tech movement, I observe that there are more white and asian women leading the way. Is it that your appearance is less threatening? Do you have some sort of special sauce that makes you a more attractive diversity hire or diversity spokeswoman than say a badass black (male or female) developer? What about other brown people?
The Boys Club has accepted indian men and women as permanent fixtures in the tech industry as well, but for some reason I always see you.
Do you ever feel bad about jumping on the victim bandwagon and taking the shine from those actually affected by the thing being discussed? You’ve done it a lot in the past, but this time you’re actively excluding the people who are being targeted for hires to promote women in tech over diversity in general. Is it because the mean, icky, cisgendered white guys make you feel left out too? Aww! I know- being excluded hurts. Being made to feel like you’re not good enough just because you’re a woman (or black, or brown, or LGBT) really sucks, huh?
Ask yourself — when you stand up on stage to talk about the “problem” with exclusionary practices, are you only considering yourself as the one being excluded? Are you truly, honestly thinking about the little black and latina girls who aren’t a part of the Women In Tech movement, aside from programs that have been exclusively created to cater to them? Because most times I join a thing about women in tech, I’m one of very few black women there. WHY?
Moving forward, can we work together again? When there’s a Director of Diversity and Inclusion position open, or a call for speakers, or a conference keynote opening, mind letting someone who actually represents diversity in tech take it? I know, you’re a minority in the tech industry, too. I know, you feel like you may have been pushed to speak on diversity even though you’ve known privilege for much of your life. I know, you want to fight the good fight, too, right alongside us like we did back in the day. Just let us lead the way on this one. Let your latina counterpart, your black, middle eastern, african, or brazilian counterpart take the lead. Cheer us on, be there for us, and understand that we’re allowed to be a part of this movement and conversation.
Feminism is awesome- I’m a feminist and I’d love to see more estrogen leading the way, but diversity in tech isn’t about feminism. It’s about adding color to solutions — giving folks who supposedly can’t learn to program the opportunity to not only learn, but to excel and solve the world’s problems, too.
I’m not asking too much of you, I hope. Let us be a force together, collectively, and let’s promote each other.