History has taught us that diversification efforts (ie: initiatives to correct systemic inequalities) unfold like this: White men “let” white women into the halls of power they created, and little changes for the rest of us. Such is the case in politics, in elite universities, and in corporate America.
This pattern is currently repeating itself in tech, with Silicon Valley luminaries and media applauding “change” and pointing to a handful of highly successful white, well-networked women as the vanguards. As such, all women working in this field are expected to rejoice over Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer and take advice from them on how to replicate their success.
But something that everyone paying attention to diversity in tech needs to understand is this: White women speaking for us as representatives of the “diversity in tech” movement must stop. White women are a small sliver of the available talent, but are currently used as the proxy for all diversity. What works for them is not what works for us.
Important stuff for everyone to think about when we discuss diversity in tech. Coupled with Amelia Greenhall's piece about Vivek Wadhwa, it was an important reminder to me that people like yours truly in positions of privilege have a responsibility to center the voices of people who don't.