The issue of diversity in tech has been a hot topic of discussion during the past couple of years. Once Silicon Valley heavyweights like Google and Facebook released their demographics, it became clear that diversity was an issue, as their their staff was mostly white and Asian men. Meaning that technology that touches most of our daily lives in the western world, was largely leaving women and people of color out of the decisions for building these products.
Recently ex-Twitter employee Leslie Miley spoke out about his decision to leave his job as an Engineering Manager at Twitter. Although he was slated for their recent layoffs, he claimed to already have one foot out of the door because of his frustrations with their lack of diversity, and declined his severance in order to speak publicly. In an except from his essay on medium, Miley states,
"For some at Twitter, diversity is an obstruction to avoid. With my departure, Twitter no longer has any managers, directors, or VP’s of color in engineering or product management. From this position, Twitter may find it difficult to make the changes to culture and product."
The data on the benefits of diversity show that Miley is correct. Greater diversity in a companies workforce leads to better products, better decision making and the retention of top talent. This is one reason why there are dedicated groups that are looking to encourage women and minorities to seek and stay in technical professions. One such organization is New York-based Women of Color in Tech.
In order to help women of color in the tech industry, they decided to act upon the popular quote that...
"You can't be what you can't see"
-Marian Wright Edelman
WOCinTech is a support community of women working in technology and collaborate at the hashtag #WOCinTech. They seek to share information and create a visible presence of the existence of women of color in the tech industry. In response to the need to show diversity, this group created new stock photos that show women of color working in technology. The photos were inspired by the creation of the Woman of Color in Tech website. Christina Morillo, co-founder for the group wrote that...
“When we were creating our website, I noticed that there were few stock images of women of color in professional and technical settings...So I decided that we should hold a shoot, made up of women of color who actually work in the tech industry, with the idea that people could use these images in all of their materials. We didn’t want people to experience the same frustration we faced.”
As a result the group has released a set of 60 photos that are free for use, featuring women of different styles, sizes and skin colors.
They only ask that publications use the photos to show the representation of all women in tech.
These stock photos truly reflect the reality of the technology industry. The models are New York-based entrepreneurs, marketers, software engineers, security professionals, developer evangelists and designers. Stephanie Morillo (no relation to Christina), a co-founder for the group, was able to schedule the shoot at the office of cloud hosting firm DigitalOcean, where she works.
The message of this project is that women of color exist in tech and should be seen. As Stephanie Morillo stated, “We’re here. And we’re people, just like the people sans qualifiers in every other stock photo out there.”