Blog‎ > ‎

Ignoring Lost Causes in the Fight for Greater Diversity in Technology

posted Jun 5, 2014, 10:38 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Dec 13, 2016, 7:50 AM ]
When people who work to improve diversity and inclusion in the technology sector are interviewed for articles, it's common to see those who dissent leave strongly worded comments. Most of the dissenters leave arguments that boil down to the following opinions:

* Women and minorities have nothing to offer to the technology sector that white men aren't already providing.
* White men in tech (and in society in general) are hurt by initiatives to improve diversity (i.e., reverse discrimination).
* White men have worked their way to the top of the technology sector and have earned their majority status in it.
* Silicon Valley doesn't have a diversity problem. Women and minorities have a problem offering anything of value to Silicon Valley.

I've learned that most of the people who share these opinions are lost causes. It is rare to convince them of the flaws in their arguments even when you present them with facts and data.

I prefer to focus on those with open minds. The vocal few who troll the comments sections of web pages are far outnumbered by rational actors who can respond to logic. After all, there were once very vocal people who fervently believed that slavery in the United States should be legal. Guess what? We did the right thing and abolished slavery. There were also vocal people who once believed that women shouldn't have the right to vote. We did the right thing and gave women the right to vote. There were even vocal people who thought that it should be illegal for Blacks and Whites to marry each other. We got rid of anti-miscegenation laws. 

Every fight to improve society had to ignore lost causes and appeal to the better angels of the reasonable majority. The fight to improve diversity in technology will be no different.