Inclusivity in tech

One of the goals for our community is to be an inclusive safe space for all, no matter your personal or professional background. As a field, we know that the tech space could benefit from some diversity. Whether that be more people of color, women, or sexual orientation representation, we know that there is room for growth.

For any members of our community who are considered a minority, how do you feel represented in tech? What changes would you like to see made?

For our members in the majority, how have you been an ally to somebody who would be considered a minority?

Some organizations we think are doing great work on this front are:

What are some organizations you’re currently a part of that you think do good work?

would also check out
Girls In Tech (disclosure I am a board member along with two AWS execs and others)
Women in Cloud (backed heavily by Microsoft)

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For our folks Down Under, there is also Code Like A Girl and A government-funded program for the First Nations Australians

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I think tech is still a pretty hostile place for minorities. My own experience as a woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community has been fraught with blatant examples of bias and discrimination.

I’ve been able to drive through the bias and nonsense, and I know I am a lucky one in that regard. I still experience it, as I’m sure I will continue to, but I use it as fuel to my fire to continue driving forward.

Having voices that are well known in the community that are representative of these minority groups is, in my opinion, really important. Having people like Chloe Condon, Ashley Willis, Julia Evans, Emily Freeman… the list goes on for women that are killing it in the Cloud space. Having those voices and that representation matters. Having voices that didn’t just join the “boys club”, but are instead lifting other women and minorities up is a breath of fresh air.

Even more than that though, it’s important to be part of the solution. All minorities need allies, and a true honest discourse for change in the industry. There are still so many facets of tech that are full of gatekeeping, gaslighting, suppression of minority voices, and misogyny that have to go. We can’t go it alone.

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Being a woman in tech for several years now I have mixed feelings on the subject. To be honest, I liked being the unicorn of the group. I think it’s funny to go to the big conferences like Re:Invent and seeing a line for the men’s room and no wait for the ladies. I love that moment when I’m working with my male counterparts and they realize “hey, this woman knows her stuff!” I take a lot of pride in being able to hang with the guys and hold my own.

That being said, I have seen some of the other side too. I mentioned in another post that I felt it necessary to add my AWS cert to my signature so that the people I was dealing with over email knew I was the engineer to fix the issue and not just a message handler. I’ve had at least 1 job where I felt I was paid less because I was a woman. Another time I was passed up for a promotion that I was perfect for and they gave it to the manager’s frat buddy. I immediately left that job 2 days later.

I think tech has become more accepting of women however I’m still seeing a lack of them in the industry. for example, I’ve got a position currently open on my team and I have had 1 female candidate out of 50. I will say that the women I do work with now in the tech industry are normally next level, phenomenal! I can’t think of a one that is even mediocre. So we certainly need more of us that’s for sure.

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The only time we don’t have to wait in line!!!

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I love all these comments. I truly do. Great suggestions for both communities and people that I should be following closer. Thank you @SanjayM, @xabi and @bnwoods for that!

It is, however, inauseating to read these:

Don’t take me wrong, I love that this is a space where you feel comfortable sharing all these, I really wish more people would share similar stories as well. But it’s painful to know that we still live and work in a space like that. We need to change this!!

However, if there is one thing here I can pick as highlight, and that I an also absolutely relate to, is this:

You are truly amazing.

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Good read today that provides actionable advice for everyone to participate in closing the gender gap

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Great article, @SanjayM, thanks for sharing it.

I wonder how we can adapt the 4 actions to the community. Any thoughts on that?

So many things to comment on here! I started out working in electronics in the Navy so working in a male-dominated field has been a part of my life basically my whole career. This comment really stuck out to me.

For survival in a “male role”, this is what you had to do. You had to show how you can be one of the boys and not a problem. I could for sure go on about this topic for a long time. I have noticed that in technology it is a more friendly environment for women than when I was in the Navy. There are many groups out there for women in technology. I am a part of Women Who Code. As @marykay25 and @bnwoods have both mentioned though there is still a stereotype of who would be a technical person. Male being the general stereotype and then even the stereotypical woman who would be into tech and nerdy things. You come to accept and expect these things. I agree with so much of what @marykay25 says here

Honestly one of the best things is to be looked at as if you can’t do something and then showing that you can! You think I am not capable or interested in doing this because I am a girl, well let me show you all the ways that you are wrong. It does give you that fire to not only do it but do it very well! It is a guarantee that if I go to a conference like Re: Invent I will be associated with marketing and they will ask to talk to a technical person. This will happen more than one time while I am there.

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My mother told me that she figured out a long time ago, the way to motivate me was to tell me that I COULDN’T do something. :grin:

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I have a fun story about Re:Invent.

I went in 2017 with 40 other people from my company. As you could expect, all men. No big deal, my peers were great, I loved my job, and felt respected. As I was walking around the vendor expo one vendor (and I wish I remembered their name) pulled me in for a demo. It was CI/CD pipelines or something. The guy asked for my role and if I would be interested in learning more. I had some time, so of course I said sure, not wanting to be rude. He got his co-worker that was running the demo to come over. The co-worker asked me who I was with and I told him. He asked how many of us were at the conference and I said 40 – that there were a lot of us running around the expo hall. He literally said “maybe have one of your male co-workers drop by and we’ll give them a demo”. I was stunned. I didn’t even know how to react other than be incredibly embarrassed because a line of people behind me had just heard what he said. I still get both hurt and angry thinking about it. I immediately left the expo hall and literally didn’t visit another vendor booth the rest of the conference. Before that experience I visited plenty, had great conversations, and got some great swag, but that experience made me question myself so much that I wasn’t comfortable initiating conversation with other vendors. The only booth I visited after that was with one of my co-workers, and it was a VR booth, so not really software related.

To the credit of all of my co-workers that were with me, they were furious. My CTO wanted to hunt them down and have them thrown out of the conference.

Wow, just wow!! He literally said male co-worker? He didn’t even try to hide his discrimination! What did the other guy at the booth say? He wanted you to have the demo. Wonder what happened after that at his booth. Hopefully someone said something. He had no idea if you were the person making buying decision! That is so awful that the one guy saying that ruined the rest of the experince for you. I get it though.

I don’t think I will forget mine either. I was already nervous since I was so new and to just have someone assume without saying anything to me that I am not technical or I’m in marketing right away. Like why assume that? Is it because I am female? Is it the way I look? I could have been non-technical or in marketing but you could just ask instead of assume. Like do you have to fit into a particular box to be taken seriously?

He literally said male co-worker. So many of my male co-workers wanted to go back by and point to me as the decision maker/expert/etc. I honestly took off too quickly to see if anyone said anything because I was so embarrassed by the situation.

I would have had the exact same reaction. Leave and never want anything to do with that company again.

Haven’t had that happen at a conference but had something similar happen to me when I was trying to buy a sound bar at a store. Short version, the guy tried to talk me out of the one I wanted (which I researched before hand), tried to sell me on installation (hello, it’s a freaking sound bar that you plug into the TV!) and then when he pulled up my phone number in the computer it had my husbands name on it because he shops there. They guy asks me “does your husband know you are buying this?” When I got home and told the whole story, my husband was livid! He’s like “did you tell him you build private clouds for a living?!” They sent me a survey afterwards and I ripped them apart and I refuse to this day to go anywhere near that place.

On the flip side, I was working support for a SaaS product and a guy I was talking to was basically doing something really stupid with his choice in technologies. I politely pointed out that it was a bad idea and he would run into problems and outlined what all will happen. He says to me “you know, that’s why I always hire women. They will tell you like it is.” :grin: