How “The Other Side of Diversity” Gave Me Chills – Women in Technology

“We know how lack of diversity can adversely affect a business. This is how lack of workplace diversity has adversely affected me”–Erica Joy

Rainbow diversity handsI just read “The Other Side of Diversity” on Medium by Erica Joy, and recommend you do too. It’s about her experience as a black woman in tech workplaces, and it gave me some chills. As a gay woman in tech I related to what she was saying. I haven’t felt it as directly as she has, but it’s certainly there. (I’m just noticing that I almost didn’t put the word “gay” in, because I didn’t want to alienate people. I didn’t want to appear to “other” or confrontational. How sad is that!)

So take, for example, the latest Dreamforce. Of course, it goes without saying (or perhaps it doesn’t because I just did!) that it was the highlight of my work year. I get so jazzed to be there…so inspired by all the cool stuff that’s happening with IoT and Cloud communities and the hackathon and other all-things-Salesforce. But I had this interesting moment in the Dev Zone where I noticed something was out of whack. There was this super long line for the men’s restroom and I just walk in to the women’s and could take my pick of stalls. When does that ever happen? Any time there is a tech event really.

But I do believe there is a distinct change in the air and a real desire, at least by some companies, to disrupt the status quo. For the first time there was a Women In Technology track, and it was well done and well attended. The change in focus was noticeable and it helped spur me to start this blog, which is helping me find community (men and women) and my voice, and to have confidence that I can use it! This blog is also helping me reach my goal to become a Salesforce Apex coder by providing me an avenue to engage with what I’m learning. I find that I can learn at a much deeper level if I write about it, because it pushes me to really dig deep into the content. I recommend it!

I also recommend supporting groups like digitalnest.org (supporting youth and IT in Watsonville … Shout out to a former Co-Worker Jacob Martinez!), GirlsWhoCode.com (helping girls learn computer skills), and blackgirlscode.com (helping expose girls to opportunities in STEM).

I truly believe that it’s important to feed the “pipeline” with girls who want to code, but, as this article suggests, we also must make tech workplaces attractive and welcoming to women. As one speaker said during a session at DF14  on Diversity in Coders, “I’m not interested in your beer pong and hoodies.” We all play a role in this. If you work in tech, what are you doing to encourage diversity? What does your company/organization do? What could they do differently? I ask, not to point fingers, but to learn and help create change. I know there are C-level people out there who want diversity and are looking for solutions to implement in their workplaces. So let’s start talking and make the change happen!

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