The Workplace Culture Today Has Room for a Bright Future
This knowledge remake project takes an aspect of my seminar paper on African American literacy and computational literacy. In the paper, I draw parallels between coding as literacy and the history of African American literacy use. This descriptive research led me to ask a series of questions on how coding becomes a tool for social justice for marginalized groups, and not for the reproduction of bureaucracy and/or white power structures.
My knowledge remake addresses the culture of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is the center of the tech industry and highly influential on our software infrastructure and popular notions of tech. The industry attracts a homogeneous workforce. Recently, the public learned that Silicon Valley pulls significantly less talent from minority populations with Asian (American)s being the over-represented group in Silicon Valley. In addition, The brogrammer culture is toxic to minorities: gender discrimination, sexism, sexual harassment, and microaggressions abound.
In 2012, celebrities, politicians, and some Silicon Valley tech companies partnered with non-profit organizations such as Code.org began the Learn to Code Movement. Everyone should learn the basics of programming language--it's the skill of the 21st Century; it's the 4th R. There's also a greater push for instituting computer science curriculum in public schools across the country. Exposure to computer science classes, it seems influences some young people to major in computer science or other computer science-related majors. With initiatives like Yes, We Code and Black Girls Code, there seems to be a population of diverse future programmers. There's the possibility that in the future more candidates will march down the road to major tech companies looking for jobs.
While we should have some reservations on what it means to be a visible minority possibly supporting systemic racism and oppression, but for now my own project seeks to prepare Silicon Valley companies for the new wave of diverse software engineer candidates and that preparation must begin now before it happens, so that we have a smooth and inclusive hiring process and workplace culture. Of course, one approach to creating an inclusive culture is through diversity training.
All workplaces typically have some kind of equity or diversity training. Silicon Valley is no different, but often these training sessions are long, boring, and based on both real and imagine scenarios. These are useful, but I think they aren't effective enough. If they were, we wouldn't have as many discrimination cases levied against tech companies; we wouldn't have stories like Leslie Miley's at Twitter. The training positions employees as outsiders looking in and asks them to subscribe their own emotions, histories, and logic onto what are ultimately "what if" situations. In other words, employees aren't entrenched in these scenarios; some can sit comfortably in their own identities, somewhat distancing them from the scenario via words, paper, or screen.
Thus, we propose including a simulator that replaces these scenario sheets, a simulator that puts the employeee in the shoes of a minority software engineer--MINORITY BROGRAMMER SIMULATOR.