Oh how I love me some good diversity. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas (see above). Home of Texas Tech, cotton, churches, weird smells, tumble weeds, Buddy Holly, and every chain restaurant imaginable. What this town lacked in diversity, it makes up for in… Well, I’m still trying to figure that one out. As we like to say, Lubbock or Leave It. And I left it.
When I was 18 I moved to New York City, which as you all know, is the culture mecca of the world. I went polar opposite in terms of everything. And thankfully, I think, came out a better person because of it. Diversity is everywhere and on every corner in New York. I fell in love with all the different cultures, the energy that surrounded this excitement, and just the city in general. The city with all its diversity, still possesses certain issues and threats. Like how Henry Jenkins talked about Convergence Culture and it’s relation to medias melding together, the same thing happens with New York City and the melding of cultures. Jenkins said it best “every important story gets told, every brand sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms.” While women and different races/ethnicities are fighting to get their story heard, how are they supposed to get this opportunity if they continue to be marginalized?
Unlike media convergence, diversity is a little more complex. However with media convergence, we see the blending of lines, everything is a little hazy and sometimes we do not know if what we are seeing is creative marketing or entertainment. Think about the Dove beauty campaign from a few years ago. Amazing campaign centered around women and what is beautiful. Tugged at all the heart strings. But when you really think about, it was simply advertising. I’m not arguing that Dove doesn’t appreciate women and the body image issue, but was this just a marketing ploy? Sometimes when a campaign forces an issue or a company forces “diversity” it becomes a bigger problem.
As women start to fold more and more into technology, it becomes apparent that women are a true contender in the future of tech. By why should this even be a topic of conversation? Shouldn’t women already exist in tech? But as we noted last week in class, the founders of the internet and the web, were all privileged white men. We live in a society that loves to label and loves to categorize people, women tend to fall of the radar when it comes to the geekish bro club that is the tech world. As a woman in tech, I can personally relate to this. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to work under some amazing women; however, when I look up the chain of the corporate ladder and see all men. Wait, all white men. The lack of diversity within race and gender in the tech sector is jarring at times. But as Professor Royal points out, it was a woman who first recognizes the idea of computing and the first algorithm. Gender roles are constantly defined and placed into these little boxes but we all know this is not the case. Gender roles should be blurry and we should see a convergence within this area as well.
As we look at how we continue gender roles both in the physical and digital world, it is obvious (at least to me) that women dominate the digital world as consumers but are rarely given technology based jobs. It almost mimics what the workforce was like years ago as women slowly started to enter it. Think about the hit show on AMC, Mad Men, it was infuriating to watch what the workplace was like in the 1960s for women but it was also a great example of that point in history. Granted I wouldn’t mind drinking vodka in the middle of the work day, I appreciate that women are now taken more seriously. However, this sort of machismo is still relevant in the digital world. And when you think about it, the tech world is relatively new. But why is it that anything that’s new should be dominated by white men? And why do we continue to have these conversations?
As the digital world becomes more content driven and converges with the physical world, women will play a larger role in this. And just like Royal mentions in Tech-savvy women seek support in classroom and newsroom, if women are encouraged and taught the skills, they will create the product. On the flip side though, once women are within an organization and doing good work, will they be held to the same standard as men? The biggest thing I see as a woman working in tech is the double standard. The same was brought up by Susan Fowler in her blog post about working at Uber. The men were getting promoted for their good work but the women were not. Susan was going above and beyond at her job but was never given the right career trajectory because of her gender. She represents diversity and she makes her boss look good. While I personally have had a great experience at my job in terms of performance review and promotion, I know this is because my bosses have all been female and they are giving equal chance. I want to believe if I had a male boss, the experience would be the same. But, like I said earlier, there is still a bro club that I don’t quite fit into.
I’ve had numerous exchanges with clients via email or phone and have had issues of being taken seriously because I am female. Literally saying the exact same thing my male counterpart would say but because of my voice or name, they will not trust the technical advice I am giving them. I remember one instance I could not get a client to understand something I was trying to explain about our product, I asked someone else to chime in for me (a male) who relayed the exact same information with almost the exact same wording and as soon as he gave his explanation, the client “understood.”
How do we fix the problem? Keeping in mind, any sexism always starts from the top down. So while Susan was getting ridiculed within her department, it was Travis Kalanick who needed to set the standard for the entire company. Which now that he stepped down and Dara Khosrowshahi has stepped up, I am curious how the gender culture and gap in general has changed at Uber. Regardless of where the problem lies, the digital world continues to fall short on truly being a diverse environment.
Below is a super interesting infographic I found. So I leave you with this…