I am still figuring out where my opinions are on this topic, as such I reserve the right to contradict myself, change my mind and just generally be wrong throughout this and every subsequent post on the subject.
So I am what is considered “diverse” within the techy industry. This year I have fully taken advantage of my special status and applied for many diversity tickets to conferences, and have been to loads of events I would never have been able to go to otherwise. But every time I apply I feel a little guilty, like I don’t deserve special treatment and a magic free ticket.
I have justified this to myself by thinking of old me. If you met me now you’d think I’m confident, outgoing, laid back and easy to hang out with (!) but the me of 10 years ago was a very different beast. Due to many circumstances, I was not half the person I am today. I was painfully shy, wouldn’t go anywhere when I didn’t know people, wouldn’t do anything new. Certainly wouldn’t put myself up for some of the stupid things I’ve done recently. I justify my diversity tickets for old me, because if I did dare to leave the house and go to a conference, seeing people like current me, being all happy and normal there might have helped me out a bit.
Promoting diversity in tech (and anywhere else) to me is not about going out and looking for the right proportions of “diverse” people to hire/attend your event/be your friends… It’s about creating an atmosphere where all kinds of people are - and feel - welcome. This does not mean separating ourselves off into thousands of little splinter groups for women in tech, gay women in tech, gay women with nose piercings in tech, gay women with nose piercings and multiple cats in tech… It means creating inclusive events with a sensible code of conduct that is actually enforced when it has to be. I don’t want to go to a meetup for just queer coders, I want to go to an event for coders, some of which may or may not identify as queer.
I don’t know. I’m not part of this new generation of people whose entire identity is based around their “otherness”. I’m a whole person. I am interested in many subjects and I have many features - some of which classify as “diverse”. If I want to go to a techy meetup I want to go there to talk about tech with whoever the hell else wants to go and talk about tech. If they happen to be some kind of minority, well good for them. If I wanted to exclusively talk to gay people I’d join a gay meetup group (I have in fact done this, and made some very lovely friends. Other than when they were planning their wedding we very rarely, if ever, talk about our shared gayness.).
This post, and this opinion is a work in progress.