Presented at linux.conf.au 2015. This talk is an extended version of the keynote address presented at OSCON 2014.
Video will be posted at: https://www.youtube.com/user/linuxconfau2015/videos
Over the past 3 years, we’ve witnessed the discussion of the role of women and other underrepresented groups in technology grow broader, deeper and louder. From Wired to the Wall Street Journal, we’ve heard the message that we all have a problem. Even more exciting, major tech employers are just starting to respond with hard demographic data to back up years of academic research – and lived experiences – on the gender gap.
So, the first step is admitting we have a problem. But where do we all go from here?
The answer is simple, but the solutions are not: understanding one’s privilege requires hard work. Doing something productive with that understanding is even more difficult. We’ll all require a great deal more empathy for individuals whose lives we’ve never led, whose experiences we’ve never shared and whose challenges are all the same, but still quite different – and often greater – than our own.
In this talk, I’ll provide the audience with a how-to for journeying on the path to greater self-awareness and empathy:
* Understanding your own biases
* Taking the first steps toward leveling up in your interactions
* Having more useful conversations and collaborations with everyone you know
The purpose of this talk is to reexamine the topic through the lens of concrete things individuals can do to check their privilege – and to put it to work serving themselves and others.
Our Story So Far…
Under Represented Groups in Tech
• Women are 25x more likely to be
harassed online than men
• Women are more likely to be
• Women make up 20% or less of tech
workforce at major companies
• The numbers for most people of
color are much, much worse
• Transgendered people receive
disproportionate & violent
harassment both on & off the job
• The list goes on ….
Why This Matters
Diverse teams increase the bottom line
Our System Defaults &
Bias & discrimination are inherent in our social systems,
making them hard to detect & even harder to combat.
Examining Our Defaults
“I can be fooled by
anyone who looks like
- Paul Graham, Y Combinator, on
whom he’ll choose for Venture
Experiment 1: Change Your Speech Defaults
You throw like a girl.
What a retarded idea.
This code is lame.
• Use social media to understand other perspectives
• Listen != retweet, +1, reposting, commenting, providing advice
• #NotAllMen is not a useful addition to a conversation
Experiment 2: *Listen* to People Who are Not Like You
Your next empathy building
Change your online avatars &
proﬁle pics to depict you as:
• a woman
• a man of color
• a woman of color
• a person of size
Experiment 3: Change Your Online Persona
• Recenter discussions on
people whose points have
been dismissed, then restated
• Bring the conversation back to
individuals who were
interrupted or ignored
• Point out individuals’ mistakes
Experiment 4: Speak Up for Others
Provide sincere apologies when you make a mistake.
Experiment 5: Ask for Help & Accept It Humbly
Ways to Improve Your Communication with *Everyone*
Gain More Understanding
Measure Your Actions
• Count how often you
• have the ﬂoor in meetings
• interrupt other people
• dismiss ideas without
working them through with
the other person
• Use the results of these
measurements to change your
Knowledge Sharing Time
Thank you for attending!
Director of Developer Relations
The Legal Bits
• This presentation is licensed Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0): https://
• Please reuse, remix and share widely!
• The images used in this presentation are
copyright their respective owners and used with
permission under a Creative Commons license.
• Creation / Leaf in Hand: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/smanography/2299171379/
• Foundation: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/city-amsterdam/12101321055
• Justice: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/ensh/6204837462/
• Harassment / Hand: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/keoni101/5132652314/
• Money: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/epsos/8463683689
• Bandaid: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/stephanie_in_love/5434424913/
• Young man in a hoodie: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/100013566@N03/12853691273/
• Young women in orchestra: https://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/marcomartinscosta/418200303/
• Static cling kitten: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/31333486@N00/1802425453/
• Empathy: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/rosenfeldmedia/15925430129/
• Speech bubble: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/oddsock/2979328682/
• Social media: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/smemon/9894304255/
• Avatar: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/31333486@N00/2037593361
• Megaphone: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/hazzat/5412540184/
• Humility: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/indymetro/13310400055
• Can and String ‘Telephone’: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/wiertz/13195153284
• Listening is an act of love sign: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/oneworldgallery/2245563352/
• Assume: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/x1brett/3949835761/
• Broken bulb: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/uaeincredible/1458303830/
• Bridge: http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/kpaulus/14574838075/