by Amanda Sharp
The hot topic of the moment in high-tech is employee diversity. Several well-known high-tech companies have made public commitments to increase the diverse population within their organizations. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that a number of my coworkers have strong opinions about these initiatives. Break room conversations include statements such as “Why aren’t we hiring qualified candidates?” and “This is discrimination.”
I am a Mohave woman. This is how I was born. It’s absurd to think that my race or my gender are the reasons why I received a job opportunity or was chosen for a project. The notion that my career success is attributed to special treatment, and has little to do with knowledge and hard work, is offensive. Do my colleagues truly believe that ‘diverse female’ and ‘qualified candidate’ are mutually exclusive characteristics? The most disappointing part is when I hear these words from engineers, who claim their point of view is based on logic and fact, with whom I’ve worked with for years.
It can be tough to hear these words, especially on the worst of days when I am stressed about a problem or worried about a looming deadline. If you are a native female in tech or an ally, I encourage you to join NAWIC (Native American Women in Computing). We need your help to create a community of support for ourselves and for our young women. The above example is but one of the common experiences we share. And sharing our experiences will help us to face each day with courage and be proud of who we are. There may not be many of us but creating a support system, no matter how small, is worth the time and effort.