The tech industry has a bad reputation when it comes to diversity and with good reason; the figures we see most often represented in the industry are straight white men. We see it consistently and there are always calls for more to be done to attract women and people of colour into jobs. Despite this we still see reports that show women are struggling to even get their foot in the door, never mind smash the glass ceiling. With our growing awareness that more needs to be done and a slew of reports telling us not enough is being done, it can all feel incredibly discouraging.
However, an effective and positive method of attracting anyone into a career path – and showing them that they can succeed – is providing role models, people they can identify with and aspire to be like or even work alongside. To make more people feel welcome in the tech industry and let them know that they can succeed despite all the negative coverage, it’s a good idea to take the focus off of the straight white men working there, represent the under-represented, highlight possible role models, and hopefully prompt further diversification.
Helena Price’s photo and interview project ‘Techies’, which launched yesterday, aims to provide a more comprehensive picture of the people working in tech today and “bring a bit of attention to folks in the industry whose stories have never been heard, considered or celebrated” because she believes “storytelling is a powerful tool for social impact and positive change.”
The project explores the stories of many different kinds of people including but not limited to women, people of colour, people aged over 50, LGBT, working parents, people with disabilities and shows how these different identities can intersect in one person. You can also filter the stories if you’re looking to find one that especially speaks to you.
There are over 200 inspiring stories from many different areas and roles in the tech industry to read. Clicking on a portrait will take you through to information on that person’s role and experience as well as insightful conversational and incredibly human interviews which tell their personal story, the struggles they’ve faced to get where they are, the things they love about what they do and advice they might have for others.
Techies is an incredibly important project, not only because it allows a wider range of people to see themselves represented in the tech industry but because it tells stories that have to be told in order to have an effective conversation about improving diversity. Helena, who worked in the tech industry herself, really emphasised the importance of honestly and reality in these stories when she called for submissions:
“I want to hear from folks with stories to tell. I want to know your triumphs and accomplishments as well as struggles and hardships. I want to know how you made it to Silicon Valley and joined tech in the first place. I want to know how hard it was for you to get here and why you stay. I want to know what you are proudest of and the setbacks you fear you’ll never overcome.”
Not everyone is able to start in the same place or move at the same pace and Helena’s interviews show that. They show the struggles many of these people have had to go through and still go through to be where they are in an industry that doesn’t always recognise these personal differences. The surest way of achieving equality is recognising that not everyone stands on equal ground and this project is evidence of that.
You can visit the Techies website and read stories for yourself here.