28 March 2024

Time for change

by Shaun Lawrence

Hello my name is Shaun, I am a white middle-aged male and I have benefited from privilege to get where I am in the tech industry today. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t come from money and my parents had to work hard to put food on the table. But I have still benefited from the details in my introduction; I am white and a male.

This article is not about me but the underlying problem in the tech industry, one that does not appear to be improving.

What prompted this article?

A couple of weeks ago I became very angry and frustrated at the numbers being reported in this article and then angrier still when I see a member of the community being wrongly accused of the exact thing they set out to help fix.

For context this is the tweet that Layla Porter put out highlighting the initial article:

Keeping things transparent

Before someone asks, yes I do have my own motives behind this blog post but I am keen to be as open as things as possible. I have 3 fantastic ladies in my life; my wife and 2 daughters, and quite frankly I am appalled at the numbers being reported of women experiencing gender discrimination!

In reality, 73% of women in tech have experienced gender discrimination recently. Source

How can I feel comfortable encouraging my daughters and wife to work in an industry that quite simply does not respect them?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t, so something has to change!

How is it that people such as Layla who have built platforms that help to celebrate minorities in tech get burned out? And whats worse when they highlight this they get called sexist, racist or whatever-ist because of the platform that they have built! People like Layla should not berated or blamed for anything, platforms like WomenOfDotnet are not built to take away from the giant pool of white men in the tech industry, in fact we should take inspiration from them! If you are reading this and are an angry person that fits in the majority of the tech population, please I implore you, don’t point the finger at others, take a look at yourself… are you struggling to distinguish yourself from others fitting the majority population of tech? Surely you can appreciate how difficult it is for others to do so when they aren’t in the common demographic?

Empathy and just general politeness go a really long way.

What can we do?

What was that, you aren’t part of the problem you say? I used to think that but upon reflection I’ve come to realise that if we are not part of the solution then we are a part of the problem! And I do not use the word we lightly, I am in this with you and let me tell you, we can do and be much better!

I’m not intending on attacking you with the above statement but let’s be honest if we are helping to make the industry a welcome place for all then we are simply saying the current situation is fine. Which it is not!

Let me ask, the next time you detect any hint of sexism or racism, don’t avoid it or put it down to “oh that’s just how X is”. Speak up! Talking about the problem can always help lead to a solution!

As a parent we teach our children to be kind, empathetic and simply treat others how they wish to be treated.

Final words

I wanted to come up an aspirational quote to sign off but I believe that David Whitney said it best:

Let us be that change!

tags: Women - Time for change - discrimination - industry