How to Make a Difference in Tech

In the last month of going to conferences and talking to people (more on what I learned at Allied Media Conference and Open Source Bridge soon, I hope!), I’ve had a few chats on a topic I’d like to expand on here. When people come to realize that diversity and inequality is a problem in tech, they want to know “what next?” I’m going to suggest a few steps we all can take now.

Listen

It’s a natural impulse to want to jump to solutions. There’s a problem, so let’s fix it! Good solutions have to be grounded in an understanding of the people and systems those problems affect. By listening to people from marginalized groups, and listening intersectionally (that is, with an awareness that multiple kinds of oppression can overlap), we can learn from these margins what needs to change. Great starting points are past AlterConf talks and organized Twitter discussions like #wocintech Chat (you’re just there to watch if you’re outside that group, not participate!)

Amplify

Under-represented groups in tech aren’t just in low numbers in companies, our voices and needs are less heard. We can help change that by amplifying these perspectives, and sharing them with people in our workplaces and social groups. Anil Dash once spent a year only retweeting women–it’s things like this that start to shift our group awareness. A particular area to pay attention to is around requests for support for projects created by people from marginalized groups. This lack of visibility can make outreach and funding so much harder. Folks are much more likely to pay attention to these things when it comes with the support of people like them. 

Donate

You can help support change in material ways. Fund Club is a program that asks people earning over $100k in tech to commit at least $100 each month to a project the Fund Club organizers choose. If that’s not a comfortable option for your budget, even $5 or $20 to those same groups will be appreciated. Other great places to put your money: the projects you find from listening and amplifying as described above, AlterConf (which is in the process of scaling to make their work accessible to even more communities), by purchasing an extra scholarship or pass-it-along ticket for your favorite conference, and also The Recompiler–we need support from readers to continue to provide content and resources like this.

These may seem like small things when each is taken alone. The power is in us doing them together. Over time, we create the tech communities and organizations we want to be a part of.

P.S. — we’re working on a directory of resources around tech and diversity/inclusion, both things that are of use to marginalized folks, and things that teach us how to build better organizations and communities. If you know of something we should include, we’d love to hear about it.