It’s a funny old thing. I totally agree with Clair’s perspective and this sh*t makes me angry. However, I look at this as a problem of diversity in general, more than women specifically. Indeed, you can take gender or indeed diversity out of this altogether and just look at the numbers and we have to be stupid as an industry to let it continue.
Without a doubt, women in tech are certainly the most underrepresented major demography I work with day-to-day. The words it’s “better than it was” don’t seem to cut it for me.
IT is a business of alleged intellect. We raved many years ago about how smart we were. But then we realised we weren’t, and we’re getting dumber, so we now rave about failing. Fail fast. Not without its merits, but as was the case in XP 1st Ed, we threw the baby out with the bathwater, and are only just realising we probably should learn how to effectively use empirical evidence to learn from that failure rather than just fail.
So to those still not understanding the diversity debate in terms of the numbers, let’s put it this way (yes, I’ve mentioned these before). The world is made up of purple stools and yellow stools.
- Stool children engaged in coding at grass roots level split pretty much 50:50 aged 9–11.
- At university, yellow make up 17% of all graduates in technical subjects.
- Inference 1: Somewhere down the bloody line something puts yellow off. So we see self-exclusion.
- Stools that remain enter the office and after a time, yellow stools leave not just the office, but often the industry. This wasted the time (and educational money) of the yellow stools which is a loss to the individual, is arguably a loss to society as a whole, since 50% of the stool population now has to pay back more debt or perhaps struggle for a few years to gain acceptance working as an occasional table and the tax office loses out too.
- Evil not-so-genius: “So we save the yellow stools the trouble and put them off beforehand!”
- Not so fast sunshine. That would work only if it weren’t for the fact that companies embracing diversity in protected characteristics such as gender, ability, ethnicity, stool colour etc. Are over 3 times more innovative and more profitable. This isn’t causal (yet), but at that level on those numbers, it may as well be.
- …and charities more successful, getting more bang for their buck. Which is why charity boards often ask for people from the community groups they represent. They’ve had it right for decades.
So, the numbers tell us diversity, in whatever form, is a positive thing. Why wouldn’t it be? After all, 51% of the population is made up of yellow stools, the remaining 49% or so are purple. Plus, there are also a spectrum of colours between the two. So it’s not even just 51% and 49%. Not accepting diversity is resigning a company’s fate to losing half of the customer base.
In what area of business would it be considered a good idea to take a neutral product, with appeal to all users, and ‘dediversify’ to lose half your business, especially for no reason? Yet we’re happy to embrace a somewhat institutionalised non-diverse stereotype for totally irrational reasons. You basically have to be dimwit.
Ditch the sh*t folks. Sure there’s differences, but at the end of the day, whatever colour stool we get, we can all sit on it. If we don’t respect the problem and understand the reasons for it, or even engage in the dialogue, we shall remain a bunch of stools.