There’s recently been a lot of great writing on women and the problem of gender inequality in the tech field. I recommend these three pieces in particular:
“Not a Beard” by Mari Huertas, who was a member of Obama’s re-election tech team. In an effort to indicate that the team was more San Francisco than Washington, many articles joke about the beards on the team. Needless to say, Mari does not have a beard. From the piece:
I want other females, young and old, to feel encouraged by the women who worked on this re-election campaign and in technology, civics, and government as a whole. I want girls and young professionals to find their way by the determined wakes we leave. We’re doing important, satisfying, fun work – we should broaden and extend our purview so more can wade into the fray.
“How Etsy Grew their Number of Female Engineers by Almost 500% in One Year” by Brett Berson, a member of an investment group that hosted Etsy’s CTO for a talk on the subject. It’s important to note that it wasn’t a cheap or easy fix: it involved spending money intelligently on “Hacker Grants” and consistently and proactively reaching out. But it’s also been worth it, increasing diversity on the team and increasing the quality of applicants, male and female.
Even science recognizes that diversity is important: research from both the Kellogg and Sloan Schools suggest that cognitively diverse teams perform better on hard problems.
Beyond that, though, hiring for diversity will set up better recruiting opportunities.
I’m consistently frustrated by the homogeny of the tech scene in San Francisco and generally, and it’s encouraging to see that people are addressing the problem. It’s a long road ahead, and it extends even beyond gender issues. Another great piece called “And Read All Over” by Jamelle Bouie has done an excellent job, for example, of demonstrating the (mostly) unbearable whiteness of the tech journalism community.
Anyway, I think the importance of these issues is even greater than their obvious effect on the discussion around equality in the tech community. As technical developments increasingly have profound effects on our privacy, speech, and civil liberties, I feel much more comfortable with diverse teams making those decisions.