“Techies” is one photographers’ mission to tell the stories of Silicon valley’s minorities, and to disrupt your idea of what a tech worker looks like.
Prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen recently wrote that “software coding is quite possibly the most inviting, inclusive profession ever” and linked to a study reporting that many coders are self-taught. What he didn’t notice: the study also says the profession is 92.8% men.
Helena Price, a photographer and former startup worker, is on Monday launching the largest oral history of discrimination in Silicon Valley – a series of 100 portraits of “techies” who fall into those forgotten categories.
In portraits and long interviews, she profiles the black coders, women, and older techies who have been pushed to the fringes of the boom – and some, such as Pinterest’s Tracy Chou and investors Om Malik and Tristan Walker – who have made it to the center.
“I chose the title ‘techie’ because it’s negative. It’s kind of derogatory. I expect people to roll their eyes,” Price said. “I want people to see that word and then this grid of faces. I love that it f**ks with your head.”
The stories are both shocking and completely normal here. One woman describes having a child.
“Apparently it’s impossible to have kids and continue to care about technology,” said Lisa Dusseault, a lead engineer at Stubhub. “When I was childless, I could be a geek – almost like people said, ‘Well, she must be basically a man in a woman’s body because look at how much she loves protocols, and architecture, and systems.’ But then when I got pregnant and I very clearly was not a man, I noticed that was just overwhelming to people.”
“There’s sexism and racism in every industry but in Silicon Valley we have the fewest excuses in terms of blaming history or institutional problems,” Price said one recent day at her downtown San Francisco live/work studio. “All of this around us is new. So it’s like, you had the chance to set your values right away and you didn’t. And yet there are still people who believe it’s a meritocracy here.”
Former Googler and now co-founder of a startup called Mixmax, Chanpory Rith, a gay Cambodian Mormon, said he would probably leave town for some place a little more diverse. “I used to think I’d live in San Francisco for the rest of my life because it’s just so open, diverse, and you can live how you want to live. But when toast is $5, it’s kinda crazy,” Rith said. “I actually love the $5 toast, but when that’s the norm, and there is not much deviation, it’s obscene.”
Originally from New Bern, North Carolina, Price does commercial photography for Uber, Airbnb, Facebook and Microsoft, where she sees the tech world up close. One of the most discriminated groups she’s found are older women. “Guys don’t want to hire someone who looks like their mom,” Price said. “If you’re all 22 years old, having your mom around doesn’t sound fun, right?”
About the image’s in this post”
- Emily Eifler, VR researcher, two years in tech: ‘I’m 30, female, and disabled from a brain injury caused by gas poisoning when I was 10. I’m an artist working as a VR researcher right now.’
- Nancy Douyon, UX researcher, 18 years in tech: ‘I’m a User Experience Research Program Manager at Google where I currently lead research on the end to end experience for all new and critical launches. I also have my own mentorship program where I pair underrepresented individuals with personal networks in Tech.’
- Tiffany Taylor, product designer, six years in tech: ‘I’m a self-taught designer and coder. I never thought I’d be able to take my geeky high school hobby of making websites and turn it into a career. As a woman of color, I have a unique perspective when it comes to designing experiences. That said, I have only met one other black female designer in tech in the past six years.’
- Rachel Miller, software engineer, four years in tech: ‘I’m a queer programmer with a big heart. I grew up in Virginia and studied real hard, worked my way through a little grad school in Boston, and finally found my home in SF.’
- Kanyi Maqubela, VC partner: ‘I’m a South African American living in New York City. I worked as an operator and entrepreneur in California for nearly a decade. I am now a venture capitalist, investing in mission-driven consumer companies.’
- Lydia Fernandez, engineer, four years in tech: ‘I’m a trans woman born and raised in Miami, Florida. In 2014 I began my first full time job at Uber. In the span of a week I moved across the country, came out of the closet, and started a new job working on problems I care about while being a person I had never been publicly.’
- Amy Wibowo, founder, 10 years in tech: ‘I’m Indonesian-American and moved to the US when I was two years old. I did machine learning research at Honda Research Institute, HCI research at the University of Tokyo and web development at Airbnb, before going on to start my own computer science education company. Currently, I’m writing the computer science textbook I wish I had growing up, full of drawings of cats.’
Read Article (Nellie Bowles | theguardian.com | 04/04/2016)
Our Technological Landscape now reflects the Diversity of our Global Population, as should the Industries that provide these Technologies.
Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, inevitably the day will come when even millennials will be unfamiliar with the latest technology. It’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.
Master Level High-Tech Webinars