Question: From the readings and in your opinion, is the lack of diversity a problem in the technology industry or is the gender gap overblown? Is it something that needs to be addressed or is it just a (possibly unfortunate) reality?
I do not believe the lack of diversity in technology is a significant problem. As far as the recent movements to increase diversity in tech fields, I feel that this is motivated by the fact that a lot of big tech companies are at the center of attention for a lot of people solely because of how important their products are and how big the companies are (Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.). With this level of public interest, these companies must work harder to make the public happy, and lately people have been calling for more diversity hires without fully understanding why such a gap exists. I understand that as a white male in the technology field, it may be hard for me to understand exactly where women/minorities are coming from when they say they feel excluded from the tech field, but after doing some of the readings it seems to me that the lack of diversity is something which may just be a part of reality. I think the real reason there is a gender gap in technology is that women simply are not as attracted to the tech field as men. Whether this lack of interest is innate or a product of society is hard to pin down, but it certainly does seem that the data points to the fact that men typically display a greater interest in tech than women, and that the two genders choose their career fields accordingly. As such, I do not think it is necessary to coerce women into tech roles that they are simply not interested in. There are also claims of privilege in the tech world, that white/Asian men typically face less boundaries than women or minorities because people naturally assume that they are adept with technology. Obviously it is wrong to assume someone’s ability in any field based on their race/gender. While I do not deny that this bias likely exists in a lot of people to some extent, I do not think the answer to eliminating such a bias is to try and persuade more women into tech roles that they may not necessarily want. Instead, people should work on how they interact with people that don’t fit the “tech” stereotype. This really comes down to an individual basis, and I do not believe it is something that companies can force to happen. There are simply too many people out there (professors, teachers, parents) who are able to perpetuate the bias. Instead, I think the only way for a gender/race bias to be combatted is for the people close to an individual who has shown interest in tech to be open-minded and treat them as being just as capable as any other person with the same experience.
Regarding the events which transpired at Uber, I think they are clearly inappropriate and unprofessional. I was honestly very shocked that such a large company would allow its management to act in such a sexist way without any sort of reasonable repercussions. I did not think that modern companies could act in such a way, but clearly they can, and that’s very disappointing to me. A lot of what transpired at Uber, though, does not seem to have a clear link to diversity in technology, and seems like more of a story involving negligence to sexual harassment, which can happen in any company in any industry. The one part of the story which seemed to be relevant to the tech field was when Susan Fowler’s manager blocked her transfer request in order to keep a woman on his team. This was clearly motivated by a desire to have “trophy” women on his team in order to show that he cared about diversity. Like I said above, though, I think that people just need to recognize that most women are not as interested in tech, and that because of this there will naturally be less women on engineering teams. This is something that just has to be accepted, and by attempting to directly fight this trend, women engineers can be hurt, as was exemplified by Fowler.