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The Other Side of Diversity In Tech 441

An anonymous reader writes: We frequently discuss diversity in the tech industry, and all the initiatives getting underway to encourage women and minorities to enter (and stay in) the field. The prevailing theme is that this will be good for companies, good for innovation, and good for the future of technology. While that's true, greater representation will also be good for the individuals themselves. Erica Joy has been in IT for a long time, and she's worked in many of the industry hotspots. She's written an insightful article on how the lack of diversity has affected her throughout her career. An excerpt: "Unfortunately, my workplace is homogenous and so are my surroundings. I feel different everywhere. I go to work and I stick out like a sore thumb. ... I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in."
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The Other Side of Diversity In Tech

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  • Assumptions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @05:31AM (#48316181)

    The summary says that increasing diversity will be good for innovation and technology, with no stated reason as to why. So I'll ask: why will increasing diversity be good for technology and innovation?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      The answer is right in the summary. In a homogeneous environment anyone who is different stands out like a sore thumb. If here is moire diversity then differences become less noticeable.

      There are other benefits. Have you been living under a rock for the last 30 years or did you not hear that it is generally accepted that monoculture is bad for business and that having a variety of skills, experience, backgrounds and ideas is better?

      • Re:Assumptions? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:12AM (#48316659)

        Diversity of that kind has nothing to do with sex or race however. It has more to do with different ways of thinking about things.

        Five white guys that are all between the ages of 35 and 45 are not necessarily similar.

        They could for one thing be from very different cultures. They could also have completely different work backgrounds. They might have completely different beliefs about everything. They might has distinct psychologies.

        This obessession with sex and race quotas are counter productive if your goal is better work. If you want greater diversity then look for a diversity of talent, mentality, and psychology.

        I am for example a white man. However, I have a very unusual psychological profile. I am literally 1 in 100,000. Am I unique or superior? No. But I am unusual. I experience the world in a different way. I interact with people in a different way. My value systems are different.

        And on any project I am on, my distinctiveness arrives at options and conclusions that no one else considers. Are my ideas always good? No. Sometimes they're terrible. But they're different.

        Now... how does dumping me for someone that is more normal then I am... but checks some bullshit diversity box helping anything?

        It doesn't. Stop wasting society's time with this horseshit.

        Discrimination is bad. Prejudice is bad. Bigotry is bad. And that includes judging people that you don't know by the color of their skin or their gender.

        You don't know me. You don't get to say my work environment lacks diversity because there are too many white guys in it. You don't know what that even means.

        I would literally change my race tomorrow to anything you like... so that everyone only saw that race when they looked at me. It would only help me. That's a fact. I am clever, educated, and have proven job skills. You give me some race or gender check box next to my resume and I'm a golden fucking god.

        • I was working at a software firm that tried to implement diversity, by hiring the wives of "star" male employees. These women had neither the background, the skillset, nor the ability to learn. Nominally a Marketing Writing Manager, my boss was a HS English teacher. There is some irony in her on-line profile where she has downgraded her job to make it look like she was a worker bee. She could not write commercially, talk with either vendors of customer (the product was engineering analysis software), or eve
      • In a homogeneous environment anyone who is different stands out like a sore thumb. If here is moire diversity then differences become less noticeable.

        That establishes why it's good for the people who are different. It does nothing to show why it's good for technology and innovation.

    • To me it's obvious it would ( -- this is the right verb ) be good for technology and innovation because you can't expect one demographic to have all the ideas worth pursuing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @05:44AM (#48316207)

    We frequently discuss diversity in the tech industry, and all the initiatives getting underway to encourage women and minorities to enter (and stay in) the field. The prevailing theme is that this will be good for companies, good for innovation, and good for the future of technology.

    There was a time when we said that race and sex don't matter. That you should be inclusive, at least in the sense of not being prejudiced, because its right and moral to not judge based on these attributes, which are uncontrolled and doled out at birth. Now we say otherwise, that they do matter? Which is it? Is it irrelevant that you were born with a certain set of physiological characteristics, or are people truly intrinsically different? Because here I thought I was being progressive by thinking the latter notion, in whatever form you wish to give it, was what we were fighting against. I miss the old progressives. The new ones have stared into the abyss so long they're becoming part of the problem.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@w[ ]d3.net ['orl' in gap]> on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:47AM (#48316559) Homepage Journal

      There was a time when we said that race and sex don't matter. That you should be inclusive, at least in the sense of not being prejudiced, because its right and moral to not judge based on these attributes, which are uncontrolled and doled out at birth. Now we say otherwise, that they do matter? Which is it?

      It's neither, your assumptions are wrong. It was never that race and gender didn't matter, it has always been that all races and all genders are equally valuable as human beings and equally worth having in organizations.

      Maybe you were confused by that Michael Jackson song where he said "it don't matter if you're black or white". What he meant was that neither is a disadvantage, not that your heritage and culture are meaningless.Clearly at the time most black people had very difference experiences and opportunities in life to white people, generally speaking. He was talking about outright racism and discrimination.

      Fortunately we are mostly past the racism and sexism now, but there are still cultural problems. The organizations mentioned in TFA are probably not sexist, they don't actively discriminate on gender, it's just that the work environment is disadvantageous for women.

      To be absolutely clear, hiring should still be done on merit. It's just that companies should try to advertise jobs in ways that attract more female applicants, and create a work environment that facilitates them. Think of it like not putting in a ramp for wheelchair access. It's not actively discriminating like putting up a sign saying "no cripples" would be, but it puts disabled people off working there because they either have to struggle or keep asking for special equipment to be installed just for them.

      Understand now?

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Gah, I could have been clearer and said: "What he meant was that neither is inferior or inherently less able".

        It's hard work when your audience is hostile and will deliberately mis-interpret everything that isn't crystal clear and unequivocal.

      • by stdarg ( 456557 )

        It was never that race and gender didn't matter, it has always been that all races and all genders are equally valuable as human beings and equally worth having in organizations.

        If we're all equally worth having in organizations, then a 70%, 80%, or 100% white male organization is equally valuable to a more diverse organization.

        they don't actively discriminate on gender, it's just that the work environment is disadvantageous for women.

        Or perhaps it's just advantageous for men. So since men and women are equally worth having in your organization, why does this matter?

        If the work environment becomes less advantageous for men and more advantageous for women, then fewer men will apply and more women will apply, and your mix will be different, but you haven't actually improved the situation be

  • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @05:53AM (#48316245)

    The author of this blog article (and that's what Medium is, it's livejournal 2.0) is flat out complaining that it's wrong for people to like things she doesn't like. It's not good enough that people accept her doing her own thing, they have to NOT do theirs. It's unacceptable that everyone else enjoyed playing rock band and a sign of horrible discrimination and exclusion that she should ever become part of another culture or group instead of everyone else changing to suit her exact tastes and preferences.

    And she wonders why she feels like people walk on eggshells around her and why she feels like she makes people uncomfortable. As usual these days Susan Sons' article on girls and software [linuxjournal.com] should be mandatory reading.

    • by Dragon Bait ( 997809 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:04AM (#48316275)

      And she wonders why she feels like people walk on eggshells around her and why she feels like she makes people uncomfortable.

      Our group brought a white woman (race only matters based on what comes later), let's call her Joan. Joan had a closed door office downstairs from the group. Once she joined the group, we had her move into cube-land with the rest of us.

      Enter Joan's friend, let's call her Kelly. Kelly happens to be black. One day Joan, Kelly, and I were having lunch in the break room. Kelly asked Joan why she moved out of her nice, closed-door office into cube-land. Here's where I step in it. I replied "We wanted to integrate Joan into the group." Kelly goes absolutely berserk on me. "What do you mean integrate?!? I'm integrated!!"

      I'm still trying to figure out what my comment about Joan -- white Joan -- had anything to do with Kelly. Yes, I walked on egg shells around Kelly from then on.

      • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:37AM (#48316533)

        I'm still trying to figure out what my comment about Joan -- white Joan -- had anything to do with Kelly. Yes, I walked on egg shells around Kelly from then on.

        It's called solipsism [reference.com]. You can't really negotiate with a solipsistic person since even abstractions that obviously are intended to show them things about others invariably, in their minds, come back to them.

        Word of advice, though, from experience in dealing with these types of people. The best defense is to make it clear you are a hard target. By hard I mean, you will defend yourself and make it costly even if they nominally win the fight. No one wants to suffer at best a pyrrhic victory.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        So is this how it works? I come up with an anecdote, unverifiable of course, about what a racist douchebag someone as a counter-argument?

        Just because some (possibly ficticious) people are morons does not invalidate the argument. Address TFA's points directly please, instead of relying on logical fallacies.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Well, yes. That's 'progressives' for you; they want to 'progress' toward everyone doing what they tell them to do.

    • AFAIK the article does not say that.

      All it says is that it sucks to be the one who is different from everyone else, and that the author is going to do what she can in order to bring more people like her into the industry, so that it will suck less for her kind of person.

  • Tech Up Bringing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dragon Bait ( 997809 )

    I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in.

    Translation: I want to impose my culture on my team mates.

    Frankly, I'm tired of hearing people bitch about diversity in the tech field and then blaming employers. Out of the 200 people in my freshman CS class, two were black. By my senior year, one of them was left in the program -- and his major semester project failed all tests (the test being automated were completely color blind).

    Let's ignore race for a moment. What's the percentage of people in tech who came from a single parent home? Ditto f

    • Re:Tech Up Bringing? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:53AM (#48316581) Journal

      From TFA: "I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in"

      White male here. I was with a company for many years that had a _very_ different culture than I was used to. Let's just say some of the stuff that went on would be firing offenses and many other companies or at least be highly offensive to some. I learned to fit in and emulate the culture. When I left, I realized how much I had changed, just like the woman in the story said she has lost her identity. This is not just a racial problem.

    • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:09AM (#48316637)

      I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in.

      Translation: I want to impose my culture on my team mates.

      No, more like I am always acutely aware of my differences and it can be uncomfortable. Until you have been their it is hard to understand but one day you may find yourself there even if your just "the old guy."

      Let's ignore race for a moment. What's the percentage of people in tech who came from a single parent home? Ditto for the population at large? How many people in tech had welfare crack whores for mothers? The population at large? What's the percentage of people in tech where education was a priority for the family? The population at large?

      the real question is "how do we identify and support talent that may not be able to reach their potential without help?" It is easy to dismiss people but the reality is if someone cares and helps people can overcome the odds.

    • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:33AM (#48316757) Homepage Journal

      How many people in tech had welfare crack whores for mothers?

      Dude. Your dog whistle is broken. Everyone can hear it.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Translation: I want to impose my culture on my team mates.

      Funny, because the entire article is about not imposing your culture on people. You are just assuming she said what your pre-conceived ideas tell you she probably said.

      • Funny, because the entire article is about not imposing your culture on people.

        No, no it is not. That's how the language is couched, but the article is actually about wanting people to have your culture.

        Tolerance is fine, and it is good, and it's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here is conformance. And sure, it's worse when a group tries to make a person conform, but it's still bad when a person tries to make a group to conform, unless what we're talking about are generally-accepted standards of behavior.

        Only in creepy cults are you expected to eat lunch wi

    • I reluctantly gave the article a read. It's written from the first person and describes her own experiences.

      I don't see a huge amount of speculation on the problem in the article. She's just saying what happened and how she felt. She even said that she felt comfortable at one company, but left becuase of pay.

      I think her reaction to this is overwhelmingly positive.

      "I’m volunteering with organizations that will help the younger generation get involved in tech, so we can change the ratio (Black

  • Commonality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @05:56AM (#48316257)

    So different teams, different bosses, different roles, different companies, different locations, different time periods and they all sucked, she was always the outsider... the only commonality was the author. Her attitude is the problem, not the rest of the world.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @05:59AM (#48316269)

    The assumption is that there is no diversity because of discrimination. An analysis of the women in college demonstrates that fewer are hired in tech because fewer train for that field.

    Therefore the burden is on the college not the tech company.

    The College will respond that the burden is not on them because the student chooses what they want to study.

    Which either means women have to take responsibility for this or we regress back into their history blaming their high school, their grade school, their parents, or society...

    And I wish you all a hilarious time with that little journey. I'll be over here in the real world just getting on with it.

    *rolls up window and drives on*

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:06AM (#48316281)

    I laughed at their terribly racist and sexist jokes

    I've lived and worked in the South my entire life and worked on teams that were overwhelmingly white. I've never heard coworkers make "terribly racist and sexist jokes" at work. What this leads me to believe is that either her West Coast or New England coworkers were much more inclined toward racism and sexism (a possibility, since New England is actually more racist than much of the South today) or she was indirectly proving why they felt the need to walk on egg shells around her (the habit of certain people to find racism and sexism where it doesn't exist).

    Much of her argument comes down to the fact that she wants to work with people who look and act like her, not like me. That's fine, but let's call it what it is. She prefers her own and in white people that's called "racism" by the left. But as we know from the left's vanguard, minorities cannot be racist since you have to have power to be racist and minorities allegedly have no power.

    • by emj ( 15659 )

      Much of her argument comes down to the fact that she wants to work with people who look and act like her, not like me.

      No she says it's hard to fit in if there is no respect for diversity. It's your choice to make the interpretation that belittles her opinions about diversity. Group-think is comforting when you are in the group, but doesn't really work when you widen your horizon.

    • I've lived and worked in the South my entire life and worked on teams that were overwhelmingly white. I've never heard coworkers make "terribly racist and sexist jokes" at work.

      I lived in Texas for only a year and a half, and some coworkers (at Tivoli) made extremely sexist jokes, and occasionally some moderately racist jokes. But they didn't make them in front of the people who were their butts, so perhaps they had the minimum required sensitivity. Meanwhile, I really have never experienced that sort of stuff in California.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:21AM (#48316323)

    I'm not a member of a minority, or at least not one that would be recognized as such. Indeed I am a middle-aged white male, however: a good number of the issues that Erica Joy brings up in the article are ones to which I can relate.

    I recently have been in a job where I was the outsider. Mine was a more techie role in an environment populated by those who'se main focus lay elsewhere. Considering that these colleagues were almost uniformly ahead of me in their field, and I would have to be doing domain specific work, this threw up some serious impostor syndrome [wikipedia.org] issues for me. Sure I was good at tech, but this stuff they were doing... well I could grasp it, but always felt a little left behind. Objectively, it's not surprising. We each had our own specialty after all, but at work this divide left me some what isolated. Now, add to that an exclusion from social events as well (I am not one for the drinking, by preference and necessity), and being quite a distance from my non-work social group. So yeah, isolated and stressful, in the long term sense.

    In hind sight from a personal perspective, I would have had a much easier time surviving if I had been stricter with myself on work/life balance and made sure to find more things outside of work from which to draw a sense of value and self-worth. Always have a backup plan and all that.

    Of course there are a number of issues Erica discusses, which I have not experienced; I have not been mistaken for admin or security, nor have I been passed over without reason (at least not to my knowledge).

    tl;dr version: While these issues are particularly apparent with minority groups, not all of them are exclusive. This is something which a number of our geeky cohort can find common experience with at least in part, and as such we ought all be interested in making things better. Not just in terms of encouraging/enforcing diversity, but in terms of allowing for outsiders - be it due to race, gender, culture, or field - (so long as they get the job done).

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:07AM (#48316447) Homepage

      The problem is really the boundary of the culture. It's got very little to do with the externalities as much as natural human grouping and cliques.

      I work in schools. In my most recent workplaces, I feel incredibly out of place. The reason being that they have been private schools.

      I was educated in a state school, in a very working-class area. I have a "common" accent. I drop my H's and sound very working-class. Even some of the maintenance guys are former "boys" of the school and correct my English. They mean no harm, it's just the way they were brought up and there's a friendliness there anyway. We get on very well.

      As such, there's a divide, however. You can spot other "working-class" people in the school. They become your friends more easily, you have more in common, you have a common "enemy" in your "you'll never guess what happened today" chats, even.

      But you can feel it. The divide is there. It's definitely present. And the same is in all schools anyway (I guarantee you that teaching staff do not mingle with "admin" or "facilities" staff naturally - you can see the divide in office, staffrooms, social events, etc.).

      And, yes, I have been mistaken for everything from a parent to a cleaner to an outside engineer. It happens, purely because of people's assumptions and the mental categorisations they make. And it happens with both children and adults. The polite ones, you might not notice because, well, they're just polite to everyone anyway. That's an issue of basic manners, not to talk down to someone that you might perceive as "lower" than yourself. It's really a function of such manners - it doesn't matter who you are if you're not accepting of others and try to find commonalities.

      And there is no workplace where there's not a divide - none that I've ever seen anyway. The tech guys go over there, the admin people sit over there, the management huddle together and then force themselves to "do the rounds" to the other cliques but never linger, etc. It's how people work. It's a human trait. We do it for good reason - to surround ourselves with people we feel comfortable with, can talk to, can sympathise with, can help out. I can't help out the headmaster of a private boarding school socially - we're in different worlds. So long as we're both accepting, we get on fine, however. I'm never going to come to a wine-tasting, and he's never going to come dig through the dusty network cabinets and hold cables for me. But it doesn't mean that we ignore each other, or talk down to each other, or wouldn't hold the door or give the other a hand with something heavy.

      I absolutely do not condone racism or any other discrimination in any way. I could never do so in my workplace and I constantly feel that my generation are stupid if they continue the mistakes of the previous generations.

      But there will always be groups, cliques and social circles. It's human - and animal - nature. When I go to a social event, unless there are other IT guys there, it's the maintenance guys that I end up leaning towards. They talk on the same level as myself, have the same expectations, have similar experiences and histories, and I identify more with them.

      As such, when someone without those properties is trying to ingratiate themselves into my social circle, it's more difficult for them.to do so, no matter how welcoming we are. It's literally time for them to smile awkwardly and pretend they sympathise or know what we're talking about (especially in IT!).

      Nobody asking those people to change. Nobody should make me change to make them more comfortable. We should be accepting of others but also understand that, you know, sometimes the guy in the same department doesn't want to go for a drink with the rest of you after work. It's not offensive, he just doesn't fit in, or want to fit in, or has his own plans etc.

      The problem only comes when people FORCE acceptance. Then you end up with a secret social group that excludes others anyway, and a faux fron

  • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:25AM (#48316345) Homepage

    I know this: I am not my job. I am not my industry or its stereotypes. I am a black woman who happens to work in the tech industry. I don’t need to change to fit within my industry. My industry needs to change to make everyone feel included and accepted.

    Excuse fucking you? No wonder people felt like they had to walk on eggshells around you.

    Let me rephrase that for you to for exactly what was said here, as I don't feel the need to walk on eggshells. "White people do not have the same background as I do as a black person, I feel more comfortable and included by black people. White people have to change what they're doing to be more like black people so I can feel included without changing who I am"

    People do not need to be your friend, they don't need to like you. I did read some disgusting behaviors in there by coworkers and managers, that was exceptionally inappropriate, however, you do not need to be included in social aspects of work.

    That goes with people having similar interests and background. I don't get to come to work as a white guy to talk to other white people and demand I feel included because we're all white with white backgrounds. If I have different interests in my co-workers, which I often do, I'm not part of any secret communications, or making fun of other people. In fact, I don't care to gossip at work at all so I'm likely the target of some of the gossip, and I don't get invited to these 'things'

    I am a white male. My responsibilities in the work place to my co-workers; I must respect them, they are human beings. Their gender does not matter. If I can reconfigure our cisco routers, any women of any race with the same knowledge and expertise can do the same thing. I will provide them equal respect for this as I would a caucasian male. I will treat them professionally without discrimination. I will include them in any work related activities on a business level of productivity and participation within the company.

    I do not have to like you. I do not have to be your friend. I do not have to embrace your values, or way of life, or anything about you in a non professional manner. I am in my full rights to keep a strictly professional relationship with you, regardless of your race and gender.

    As with any co-worker, that is likely the case, I do not engage socially beyond work related social interaction with most people. On occasion, I run into person of who happens to share similar interests and behave the way I do. These people I may end up calling friends.

    You cannot hide behind the mask of racism and gender discrimination to force people to like you and want to be your friend. The opposite will happen.

    My final comment on this - I'm sorry you experienced some assholes who were disrespectful to you. They were assholes, and it's not a reflection of the entire industry, progress is being made on that front, and here is the biggest shocker of all. White men have to deal with these assholes too, sometimes they just don't "us" either, and we get treated with shitty condenscending comments where we're shocked we didn't punch them in the face for it and what they said is HR worthy.

    • I agree with you on most of your points - the author's unreasonable expectations are clearly the root of her dissatisfaction, even though there are some real problems sometimes. However there is one thing which in my observation works out differently, and that is how our "work" selves are separated form our "life" selves.

      "I do not have to like you. I do not have to be your friend. I do not have to embrace your values, or way of life, or anything about you in a non professional manner. I am in my full rights

      • by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <.silas. .at. .dsminc-corp.com.> on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @09:07AM (#48316997) Homepage

        Their failure to integrate is a perfectly fine reason to be passed over. I've managed women and people of color in the IT workplace and some fit in just fine it's no different than a white male who is a school snob or otherwise fails to gel with the rest of the team, they have to be outstanding to make up for the failures in their soft skills. In general if you have a prissy attitude or otherwise a chip on your shoulder you wont fit in because you choose not to that is a failure solely on them. People are free to make that choice but do not complain when it adversely affects you.

        • Being a snob is a choice; being a black female, not so much. Having to be outstanding to make up for failing to "gel with the rest of the team" by virtue of being black or female does not fit many people's understanding of "equal opportunity". That some manage to hit that threshold (and I do know some of these personally) kind of exacerbates the unfairness.

      • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

        You don't have to. But what happens if someone is being kept a "strictly professional relationship with" by everyone - they are severely impeded in their career.

        You're absolutely right, but you can't fault "everyone" if "everyone" doesn't share your values and life style. If you can only reach out to "people of my own " then the problem is you and your unwillingness to accept other peoples values and cultures. They're perfectly fine, she is the one that is having the issue. This seems less about race and more about upbringing, the life you were exposed to as a child and like minded people, and I suspect she simply didn't have luck running into people who had the sa

    • however, you do not need to be included in social aspects of work.

      And that has nothing at all to do with places where people are incapable of socialising like reasonable humans, and instead prefer a single minded approach where you do just the one activity.

      Yeah no problems with a group like that. Guess what, not ever all or even most white males socialising revolves around nothing but drinking beer in a cheap bar and playing guitar hero.

      Excuse fucking you?

      If that is how you carry on then yes, you ought to

      • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

        Ostracizing, let me give you a better example.

        Hey we're all going to go play baseball and drink beer. Want to come? "No, I don't drink or play baseball"

        Then you go "I've been ostracized, they just ignore me and left me here by myself." It's not on everyone else to adjust their life style so they can entertain you, and make you happy. You're responsible for your own happiness. This would be completely dismissed but also completely accurate, if I worked in an environment where no one cared about technology or

  • by joe545 ( 871599 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:41AM (#48316399)

    She doesn't like that she conformed to the group she was in and feels that is a bad thing. But yet recognises that she feels much comfortable amongst people who "share her cultural upbringing" and doesn't think that's a bad thing. There's inconsistency there.

    But then when she talks about joining a group at work who enjoy going out to have a beer or two and then complains that they she doesn't like beer and that they should do something else. Not very appreciative of views diverse from her own there!

    At one point she mentions that she was the only black women in her team of two. As opposed to what, being two black women alone in the same team? That's not very diverse now, is it?

  • Why is diversity so limited? Why does it only refer to ancestors location (skin color is not used, there are some dark "white people"), gender, and sexual orientation?Why are height, weight, eye color, hair color, travel history, etc. ignored? Height is interesting since I have seen studies that claim that tall people are more likely to earn more and be in a position of power. Rather than physical attributes, life experience and personalty are the most important aspects of diversity. Did you grow up on a fa
  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:10AM (#48316647)
    Someone really knows how to troll slashdot.
  • " I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in."

    But why do you feel the need to inject YOUR culture into the workplace? You are there to work, not to discuss culture...

  • I did a contract gig at Ericsson for about a year. As a white male citizen of the USA, I was in the minority in that company fir the first time in a 30 year career and it was awesome! That year I had several folks from the office over for Thanksgiving -- we had several people working contracts from overseas so they didn't have anywhere particularly else to go and a couple of them had never attended a Thanksgiving feast before. That felt very much like how people should get along -- just hanging out and havi
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @10:06AM (#48317441) Journal

    I read the woman's article and I guess it hit closer to home for me than some people, because while I'm a white male, I'm married to a black woman who works in I.T.

    There are certainly some workplace lessons to be learned from the author's insights, but I'm not sure they're all necessarily the ones she would conclude herself?

    For starters? Whether you like it or don't... want to admit it's true or don't ... Geographic location has a lot to do with the workplace environment you can expect and its racial makeup. As she admitted herself, the job she took with Home Depot's corporate offices in the South (Atlanta) was one of the places she felt most "comfortable" among her co-workers. If this was as high of a priority for her as it sounds like it was (to the point of her describing health problems due to stress), I would have advised her never to go to Silicon Valley for work - regardless of the promised pay and benefits.

    It sounds like, to an extent, she's upset that she can't "have it all" -- meaning working amongst a large population of blacks (with a nice chunk of them being female as well) who share her values and interests, while still earning "top tier" salaries in her field with the biggest industry "movers and shakers".

    I'd counter that we simply don't live in a perfect world, and like everyone else, she has to make some tough choices. As a white male who has always had an interest in technology and computing, I knew it was my career field of choice. At the same time? I grew up in the midwest, and found some of my own values made it difficult for me to do such things as running out to the west coast in the dot-com boom era (even when some of my friends did and a couple wound up millionaires). I chose to stick with doing I.T. for manufacturing firms who couldn't afford to pay me that well, but offered some measure of stability and a concept of "life / work balance" that the big tech places lacked. I had family in the midwest that I didn't want to leave, and good friends that I grew up with as a kid and still hung out with. Considering all of that plus the fact that cost of living and housing was reasonable where I lived, it seemed prudent to stay put.

    My wife grew up in Memphis, but I think she always knew that she wanted to get out of that area, in order to find more career success. She wound up in New York for a while, Texas for a while, and now out on the east coast with me. She's definitely not anything close to your stereotypical black woman. (Yes, she listens to alternative and classic rock by choice, and doesn't care for much rap music. She also converted to Judaism, among other things people might find outside the norm.) She never had much interest in playing competitive video games though (well, outside of a bit of Guitar Hero until she got bored with it after playing through several songs). (I, on the other hand, still like playing first person shooters, even though I'm in my early 40's.)

    If you're working someplace where it's clear the vast majority enjoys and values things you don't -- guess what? That can happen to ANY of us. I worked in I.T. for union steel shops where everyone's interests included hunting, wrestling, monster trucks and country music. I was the only one who listened to alt. rock instead, and cared about a computer as more than just "a pain in the ass tool management forces us to use". I guess I *could* have tried to go hunting or fishing with the guys or start listening to country to try to make new friends. But I didn't.... I just accepted that we liked different things, and went to work to get work done, period. It's a lot easier to enjoy your free time if you have a paycheck and the bills are all paid.

    If you're not willing to do that? That's ok... but you have to do your job search based on what's important, then .... which would be finding like-minded co-workers. I know it exists, but she's right that at least for what she was looking for -- it probably won't be found in the "tech giants" of plac

    • by Kaji Yuy ( 3712483 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @11:30AM (#48318267)
      I read a lot of the posts (almost every single one) and I agree with your comment. I am African American. I work in tech and I've had a lot of different experiences in the same region (east coast). I do agree with a lot of what the author is saying but at the same time there is a disturbing cognitive dissonance about her conclusions. I have been subjected to a number of really rude comments. It is very difficult to facilitate group inclusion in some companies. I won't list the reasons why being 'one of the guys' is important (we all know it helps ascend the ladder). I've been working in this field for about a decade and a few years ago I came to the conclusion that I won't be able to achieve what I want through normal means. As an African American the hard truth is that if you really can't assimilate and feel comfortable enough to live your life or work diligently for the 40+ years necessary to maintain your lifestyle, then you must take it upon yourself to create your own environment. For many African Americans, entrepreneurship will be our only solace, however difficult and arduous that endeavor may be. The problem is compounded by the fact that those who were successful in the previous generation did so via education. Even though they earned eighty cents for every dollar their white equivalent made they were leaps and bounds ahead of the last generation. As a whole, the millennials (regardless of race) are generally concerned that we won’t have as much as our parents and this realization is certainly not lost on those African Americans coming from middle class families.
  • by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @10:27AM (#48317613)

    (Yeah, I know this was focusing on gender diversity, but I see a larger issue)

    Back when I was in college, oh too long ago, we had actually a decent amount of diversity in classes, at least relative to what I see today.

    I got my job from a reference from a Mexican engineer. My group of close friends were a white guy like me, a few Indians, Mexicans, a Greek girl, some Greek guys, a Korean girl, etc. It seemed pretty mixed at the time. Also, not coincidentally I think, I got a free ride to college. My tuition was low (state school) and I got a lot of grants and scholarships.

    Now, college is getting more expensive. They're spending money not on faculty or programs, but on buildings, and incurring debt. Tuition is rising. Scholarships are gone, too much belt tightening. So, if you're close to the cutoff of "can I make it in, can I not", you're more likely to be on the bad side of that cutoff now. Oh, and who's more likely to be on the bad side of the cutoff? Minorities.

    This isn't racism in the classic "Im going to stop you from reading a book" sense. But it is a consequence of previous racism. You get cycles. Parents who were banned from colleges in the 60's, who were forced to live in neighborhoods with bad schools in the 80's and 90's are having kids saddled with a few headwinds today. It took years to create this situation, and it will take years to unwind it.

    This isn't just a "well, poor them", "yeah the bleeding heart liberals will cry them a river" problem. Aside from the emotional cost, for the spreadsheet lovers, this is a huge subset of our nation not being as economically useful as they can be. This specifically in a time where our economy is depressed because people don't have good paying jobs and can't buy anything. To have cycles and generations of people who are nowhere near their economic potential should be a problem for both Dems and Republicans.

    Sadly, there doesn't seem to be anybody who wants to do a long term improvement project in today's politics. Neither politicians, nor the electorate have enough patience to try to unwind this.

  • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @12:06PM (#48318681)

    The question that always come to my mind when reading articles like this .. is why is tech singled out as "needing" to change?

    Granted it's a tech-centric site, so it will be biased -- but where are the SJ crusaders trying to get more men involved in teaching primary education, or nursing? I'd wager that the gender gap is even greater than in technology.

    This is somewhat tongue in cheek, but having traveled to several large cities, white men were somewhat underrepresented as cabbies. Is there implicit racism in cab companies hiring practices? Is this something we need a hash tag for?

"Take that, you hostile sons-of-bitches!" -- James Coburn, in the finale of _The_President's_Analyst_

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