An Open Letter to the Tech Community About Diversity and Sexism

This is a difficult blog post to write. At Cloud City Development, we had many conversations about the problems with diversity and sexism in tech, such as women reporting harassment and abuse at tech conferences, online conversations challenging the Ruby culture, and community struggles to make everyone feel welcome, especially marginalized groups. As individuals, employees, and Ruby community members, what is our role in creating the kind of community we want to be in?

Everyone wants to be authentic and comfortable. Everyone wants to feel respected. So, how do we create a community that welcomes anyone who might not see many people who look like them at a tech conference? How do we create a safe space for women, gender nonconforming people, people of color, LGBT people, and others? The issues the tech industry faces in building a diverse community are complicated and affect people both online and offline.

First, we acknowledge terrible things happened to some people, and we want to offer our support.

We’ve spoken out about online trolling targeting women. Some men responded, "Yeah, but thats just the internet. You just have to ignore it.” But they are unaware of the background of online harassment of women and minorities. Writing off bullying and bad behavior as “oh it’s the internet” ignores the context: these are documented issues affecting women participating in online spaces. For women and other minorities in technology, online harassment is part of a broader experience of being marginalized and excluded.

Although some people have written mean spirited responses, most of the people in the Ruby and Tech communities are smart and logical. We respond to thoughtful arguments. We can change our points of view when presented with new information. So, let’s not shut down conversations just because they are difficult. Please, respect and hear out community members who express strong feelings. Listen to what people are saying and consider their perspectives. We can move the conversation forward and facilitate change.

Finally, if you see someone in a situation where that person looks uncomfortable, it’s okay to step in and ask if that person is okay. If you are just watching someone and are not sure what to do, then assume the person experiencing the situation may not be able to respond. Try to imagine how uncertain the person at the center of unwanted attention must feel. Freezing under pressure is a common physiological response to trauma. Your actions do make a difference. Let’s create a community where people look out for each other.

At Cloud City, we believe in creating a culture where people feel supported in being their authentic selves. We think a diverse workplace is an asset. People with a broad range of backgrounds bring valuable perspectives to solving problems and building products.

Cloud City wants technology communities where:

  • There is gender balance between men and women.
  • All marginalized groups feel safe at events and conferences.
  • People in authority are aware of privilege and power.
  • Women and newcomers don’t feel they have to step out of their comfort zones to fit in.
  • People set comfortable individual boundaries.
  • Companies and people are knowledgeable about diversity and protected classes.
  • People who speak out about harassment don’t feel intimidated through official or unofficial channels.

Join us. Be part of the change.

Thanks,

Kenzi Connor and Cloud City Development


Kenzi, Cloud City Development President, does whatever is necessary to ensure you receive a complete, useful, and beautiful final product. She won’t blindly follow dogma and instead offers a vision that balances the efficiencies of agile without losing the focus on product and design. Kenzi has built web apps for over 15 years, using almost every technology possible but got hooked on Rails since before it hit 1.0 over 10 years ago. She has steered many successful worldwide site launches serving hundreds of millions of users. She’s involved in the Ruby community, speaking at conferences and has published and maintained various gems as well as one of the Rails core plugins. Kenzi is passionate about education, wellness, and equality. She enjoys championing the underdog and amplifies diverse voices that might otherwise go unheard.


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