Diversity in Tech Efforts Self-Defeating?

Inclusion in Tech summit
Tash Wilder, Mimi Fox Melton, Damien Hooper-Campbell, and Tracy Chou [left to right] at The Atlantic’s Inclusion in Tech summit. (Photo: Tekla S. Perry)

Panelists at the Inclusion in Tech summit lamented that we can’t tell if tech is doing better on diversity because the data stinks.

My advice would be don’t worry about it. A lot of the noise around diversity in technology is self-defeating. If you’re a member of an underrepresented group, all you hear is that technology fields are hostile and awful and unwelcoming, you won’t be treated fairly, etc.

And you wonder why certain groups are underrepresented? You’ve answered your own question. Why would anyone who wants to have a happy life pursue a career beset by unfairness and hardship? Why not instead be a meeting planner or a flight attendant?

Asians are overrepresented in technology jobs but that’s a relatively recent development in the history of these fields. I don’t remember, when this transition from underrepresented to overrepresented was happening, hearing a lot about how technology fields were hostile to Asians. I don’t remember conferences being convened for the express purpose of complaining about the unfairness of it all.

Maybe it was happening and I just missed it, but either way, there’s a model for going from underrepresented to fairly represented or even overrepresented, and the model is accept the reality of your starting point, don’t complain, don’t get discouraged by listening to other people complain, do the work you need to do to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

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