Month: September 2019

Writing 03: Diversity in Computing and Technology

I think the computing and technology community should not work towards creating a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community, but I highly disagree with the way in which things are being done. We are trying to balance out everything, down to the ratio between different people that are in the bathroom at the same time. There will naturally be unevenness in certain areas of computing, such as what people are attracted to what teams in a big company. For example, I learned about a certain person who was visually impaired, and he went to work at Google and joined the team that works on accessibility. No one complained that he chose that team, because it was his own interest. No one tried to encourage him to go to another team just because they needed a blind person for quota purposes. What I think we should work on is making the people who are already in computing and technology not feel discriminated against or harassed. So, there is a difference between encouraging people to join, and making them feel safe. We need to work on the second one before we can focus on the first one. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise. We would be inviting people into a space that they wouldn’t feel comfortable in, just so that we meet the numbers. James Damore spoke about certain groups being more suited for certain things. Instead of trying to force a reality that doesn’t exist, just accept it and use it to understand reality more. For example, people say the bar has been lowered for minorities. I 100% agree. However, just because the bar was lowered doesn’t mean minorities are less capable. If a minority has a lower test score, it may have more to say about his training than his capabilities. For example, I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. If there was a copy of me, except that that person speaks English at home, you would and should expect that on average, I will score lower. So, me scoring lower is a result of uneven preparation, not so much a difference in capabilities. This is what I mean when I say, accept reality and use it to understand reality. I accept that the bar has been lowered. Then I ask myself, “why?” Then I answer that question to get the full picture. Again, this is on average. This is not to say that every single minority that walks in the door will be less prepared than the majority, but on average, yes they will be. So, I think we should not force things, and accept them as they are in order to solve the issues in a realistic manner. I read an article that stated that external biases are less pronounced nowadays, but internal biases are just as strong. This is because we aren’t having the real conversations that allow us to target these internal biases. We are shamed into not sharing out opinions, which is why we don’t externalize them, we just internalize them. However, this does not solve the issue, it only makes it harder to be addressed properly. The only way to have this is to have true conversations where people can accept facts and not see them as an offense, but as an attribute that they can use to understand themselves, their situation, and the world.

Writing 01: Identity

I do not consider myself similar to what people imagine when they hear the words “computer programmer.” As was evident in the class, when people hear these words, they think of people locked in their rooms, trying to hack into someone’s computer or account of some sort. For me, computer science is something that I am very passionate about, but it is not the only thing that I am passionate about. I am a very social person, which may come as a surprise to some, who are used to seeing us always alone on our computers. However, I do manifest the stereotype that I am always on my computer, but that doesn’t change the fact that I actually like talking to people. This computer science identity makes a large part of who I am, but when you mix it in with the fact that I am a Latino and come from a poor neighborhood, it makes it hard to find a place where I fit in. There are not many poor students that go to college, and out of that chunk, not many of them are Latino, and out of the tiny chunk that are Latino, there are not too many that go into computer science. For this reason, it’s hard to find a place both at school and back home. However, I think this impacts how the world sees me because many people are fascinated. My family is fascinated that I am a computer scientist, and (some) people at the University are fascinated by where I come from. So, no total common ground at either end, but at least people are interested. I recognize that I am privileged by having a great household, which I think is very fundamental to success. However, what I’ve accomplished or gotten has been through pure hard work, dedication, and perseverance. So, I grew up underprivileged in that I did not necessarily have the resources that many people around the country had, but I did have one great privilege in that my parents and family were amazing. I emphasize this because many households are toxic, which impedes children from succeeding in society. The levels of privilege obviously matter to me, because someone who doesn’t work that hard can still go to a great university because of their resources, and someone who does work hard may not go to college at all because they lack resources. For example, I had a friend that had to work while in high school because things weren’t so good at home, which ended up making him tired at school and therefore he did not perform that great. So for me, being a Notre Dame Computer Science and Engineering graduate means carrying the torch for the people who come from places where I come from, but could not get to where I am because of the circumstances. It’s to show to the world that there are people out there who are capable. I may be the one graduating, but there are many people who deserve recognition as well.

Writing 02: Hiring Process

I personally believe that the hiring process as of now isn’t as bad. I believe it all comes down to preparation and work experience. A company wants to hire the person who is most fit for the job. There is no way to tell who is most fit for the job, unless each person is evaluated. Here is where the article “Hiring is Broken And Yours Is Too” says that the problem is. It talks about how every hiring tactic has downfalls. To me, this is no surprise. When we hire, we are essentially trying to evaluate the person’s fit for the job. The only way to fully understand a person is to be the person and have lived the person’s life. All hiring tactics are essentially shortcuts where we try to get the relevant aspects of the person, and evaluate that. Here is where the problem lies. Shortcuts work for most cases, but there will always be the few who don’t make it past the evaluation because the evaluation can’t encapsulate every scenario. It’s like code; code that has been written and has no way to handle edge cases. It’s just life: nothing is perfect. What we can complain about I believe is when a company deliberately does not try to hire in a way that is fair to the candidate. All we can do is hope for the best, but not expect perfect. Personally, the hiring process has been amazing. I was asked technical questions through the phone, coded it live through a Google Doc, and talked throughout the whole process until I got to a solution or until time ran out. This seemed reasonable to me, because I knew beforehand that I was going to be tested this way, therefore, I prepared. However, I do recognize that the company that I applied to does have a lot more resources to put into making the hiring as easy and fair as possible, which other smaller companies might not have. Still, I believe that the hiring process overall is good. However, I did apply to a small company once that they gave me what was basically homework. The homework took me a few hours, but a few hours of a school week is a long time to have to sacrifice just for a chance that the employer say yes. Imaging if I had to do that for every company that I applied to. This would be impossible. So, this is one hiring tactic is one that I do not appreciate, and the same can be said for anything that takes too much time and is particular to one company. I personally believe that a viable option is a mix of past projects and live coding. Not everyone gets the live coding correct, such as the man who wrote a software that is fundamental to Facebook, but was still not hired because he was not able to reverse a linked list. Live coding gives no credit to personal projects, which should receive merit. However, there is the issue of discriminating against people with families. However, personal projects do still deserve merit, so I still think it should be a combination of the two, or either or.