I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while but I know it will be contentious. I’ll just have to delicately dance it out. And today is the day to post considering it’s International Women’s Day.
So, I can’t tell you how much I’ve been glued to reads about women, business and technology over the past five years – I’ve viewed almost every decent article that’s been published on the web in this area. The debate can, and will, go on forever. What I have found really effective though is reframing the context to help others see how things can come across.
I feel some human rights movements are more progressive than others – they’re further along. People have been fighting for them longer. While I don’t want to denounce or compare different movements, we are more aware and sensitive to the ones further along.
For instance, racist statements can generally come across more harshly than sexist statements. To highlight this, I’ve reframed five examples I’ve come across in the industry. Take a look and let me know if and how your reaction changes.
1) “Women aren’t interested in learning how to code because they’re not as good at maths. They aren’t good enough to speak at our developer conference.”
This could translate to: “Black people aren’t interested in learning how to code because they’re not as good at maths. They aren’t good enough to speak at our developer conference.”
2) “Maybe you should get a man in the room for credibility to help you raise funding?”
This could translate to: “Maybe you should get a white person in the room for credibility to help you raise funding?”
3) “We’re running a competition! Women: send us your best boobs in tech photo.”
This could translate to: “We’re running a competition! Asians: send us your most Asian-ness in tech photo.”
4) “People are making too many dick investments in startups nowadays.” [In relation to female-founded companies.]
This could translate to: “People are making too many black investments in startups nowadays.”
5) “You can’t come to our dude startups drinks because we want to talk about bloke stuff. Women should stick to their book clubs instead.”
This could translate to: “You can’t come to our white startup drinks because we want to talk about white stuff. Black people should stick to their book clubs instead.”
The same interchange can be done for gay rights.
So, the next time you hear something that doesn’t feel quite right, swap the context and you’ll feel it even more.