24 March 2014

I read “Dissent Unheard Of” by Ashe Dryden today. My heart sank. In the same week I read about Julie Ann Horvath’s exodus from GitHub, I feel like I lied to my daughter.

My daughter, a spunky, giddy, 11-year-old, inspires me. When I changed careers, her kindergarten mind only knew “Daddy works on computers”. I always used computers for my job, but I never programmed them until relatively recently. I try to answer her questions about what I do, and technology in general, or I encourage her to find her own answers. To my surprise and delight, she loves Scratch, the MIT-created programming language for kids. She creates imaginative programs with her virtual friends with little help, and no prodding, from me.

I recently told her, “Computer programming as a profession, unlike any other, is a meritocracy.” I explained, as I often do, the etymology of the word, how it relates to other -ocracies, and how men and women, young and old often work side by side; given equal treatment based on their skill and experience. If she goes into tech today, she could well call me out–a liar.

Not a day goes by I don’t think teaching myself to program was one of the best decisions I ever made. And a lot of other white males agree–“life’s great.” I love groups like @Code2040 and @Hackbright but I worry about the segregation of diversity in tech. How does that teach the next generation of white, affluent, males the tolerance and respect we want them to have?

I know I need to do more to protect my legacy and my progeny. Could a group, striving to build a better community, coach and mentor a highly diverse group rather than a homogeneous one? When I return to the US, I want to answer that question.


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