Susan Warren's Blog

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April 2004 - Posts

Diversity is a choice

A (female) friend sent me a link to this blog entry:, and I had to comment. 

Not to beat up Rob at all, I agree with him that quotas are unfair.  But I think there is a real issue around diversity in technology (and most other places in life).  I tend to think of it as the PLU problem.  Folk (including MVPs) tend to connect best with folks most like them ("People Like Us").  In this case, male MVPs pick other men to become MVPs.  It's just human nature.

As one reply notes, diversity is good.  I'd go as far as to say it's awesome, amazing, priceless.  But it's hard to get to -- the classic chicken and egg problem -- if you rely on your natural tendancies alone.  In that case, if you want more female MVPs to be invited you need more female MVPs.  If you want more Asian-American MVPs to be invited you need more Asian-American MVPs, etc.  And the (cheap) way to break a new group in is via quotas.

IMO, building diversity via quotas is bad because they are unfair.  Educating folks on why diversity is awesome and how to build it is the right way to go, but also far more costly.  Hopefully conversations like the one on Rob's blog help the MVP community understand how diversity happens a little better.

Diversity != Quotas
Diversity is recognizing that your natural human tendancy to favor PLU is cutting you off from a lot of great ideas, and doing something about it.

That's my 2 cents, as a female technologist working exclusively with Microsoft technologies.  BTW, no one has ever asked me to be an MVP... does that mean I'm not up to snuff technically?  I doubt it. ;-) 


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