BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
Earlier this week we posted an article from our May issue: It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World. The story covered the gender divide in tech from the perspective of male workers. Twitter didn’t like it.
Earlier this week we posted an article from our May issue, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World. The story covered the gender divide in tech from the perspective of male workers.
Twitter didn’t like it.
— Kristen M Gallagher (@kristenmaeve) April 30, 2015
— computers ಠ_ಠ (@peat) April 30, 2015
Suffice it to say we don’t think we are part of the problem. On the contrary, we think articles like this are part of the solution.
First, some historical context. Oregon Business inarguably started covering women in tech and the gender/minority divide before any other media outlet in the state. We certainly pioneered coverage of diversity in tech as a beat unto itself.
A small sampling:
Women power the startup scene: Early documentation of female run startups.
Coverage of the 2012 OEN awards In which we note none of the award winners are women.
Gender Code: A profile of Janice Levenhagen-Seeley, founder of ChickTech.
The Divide: a profile of Mike Green, founder of America 21, a national organization that aims to bring African Americans into the high tech economy.
Oregon Business continues to report aggressively on diversity initiatives in the technology sector. We continue to write about the experiences of women in the tech workplace and female executives who helm a growing number of software companies.
But as these issues get more attention from other news outlets, we decided to expand our coverage beyond the usual suspects. In “A Man’s World,” we wanted to go behind the scenes and take the pulse of male engineers, programmers and developers who comprise more than 75% of the Oregon tech workforce.
Is an article polling male tech workers about gender discrimination and implicit bias useless or disappointing? Is a story focusing on men instead of women “part of the problem?”
No more so than polls that ask white Americans if racism exists. No more disappointing, yet revealing, than the results of those polls, showing that the majority of white Americans don’t think racism exists.
To be sure, many of the responses we got from the men we interviewed were more mundane than revelatory.
But life is mundane. More importantly, gender discrimination is as much about subtle, everyday bias as it is sexual harassment and overt discrimination.
Diversity initiatives alone won’t create more equitable workplaces, observes Puppet Labs PR manager Justin Dorff toward the end of “A Man’s World.” To create meaningful culture change, Dorff says, “you have to get buy in from the entire organization.”
Oregon Business sought buy in from the entire organization. We contacted more than a dozen tech firms asking to speak to male employees about the gender divide.
As writer Amy Milshtein reported, a majority of the companies said they would be happy to talk about diversity initiatives or put us in touch with executives well versed on the topic. Or set up interviews with female employees.
But many of those same firms declined to make their rank and file male engineers, app developers, UI designers etc. available to speak on the record.
Now that’s what I call disappointing.
And I predict the next wave of media coverage, and diversity solutions, will target a demographic that so far has been left out of the conversation: the technology worker everyman.