Susan Warren's Blog

Sub Title

Diversity is a choice

A (female) friend sent me a link to this blog entry: http://weblogs.asp.net/rchartier/archive/2004/04/25/119955.aspx, 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. ;-) 

Susan

Comments

AndrewSeven said:

Some sanity :)

The solution is to get more of group X involved in the industry, not to reduce the requirements if the person happens to be from group X.

The top 1% of 5 million is always going to be bigger than the top 10% of 100,000.

# April 26, 2004 2:38 PM

Avonelle Lovhaug said:

As a chick programmer, I think my challenge is to encourage smart people to get into technology. I'm less concerned about their gender, and more interested in working with fun, cool, intelligent people.

And in that sense, I don't mind a little less diversity. Does that make me a snob? Probably. But I'm getting too old to work with losers who waste time and energy being jerks. Please understand, I'm not talking about less experienced developers or newbies. I'm talking about self-centered creeps who aren't very smart or talented. Let's use some quotas to filter them out.
# April 27, 2004 12:23 AM

Susan said:

"losers who waste time and energy being jerks"

LOL, Avonelle, finally a valid use for quotas! But isn't this a better application for zero tolerance? ;)
# April 27, 2004 1:03 PM

Avonelle Lovhaug said:

Absolutely! Especially since it is often times difficult to figure out who the jerks are until after they are in the cubicle next to you.
# April 27, 2004 5:46 PM

Terri Morton said:

Justin - I would expand that challenge to female MVPs even further. I think all MVPs should challenge themselves to help foster diversity in the developer community. That's a huge challenge, and I've been giving a lot of thought to it since the Summit, but nothing brilliant has come to mind.
# April 28, 2004 10:27 PM

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