While diversity in real life and in fiction is a topic on which I often blog, the firing of the Google software engineer in connection with his anti-diversity memo has strongly affected me because it is yet another instance of the never-ending battle for women’s equality.
(If you haven’t been following this news story, you might want to see the information in the post that I wrote for the Enplug.com blog in my role as Content Marketing Strategist there: “Workplace Diversity After the Google Memo — The Positive and the Negative.”)
In the Enplug post I quoted from the August 8, 2017, Fortune commentary “Read YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s Response to the Controversial Google Anti-Diversity Memo,” which begins:
Yesterday, after reading the news, my daughter asked me a question. “Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?”
That question, whether it’s been asked outright, whispered quietly, or simply lingered in the back of someone’s mind, has weighed heavily on me throughout my career in technology. Though I’ve been lucky to work at a company where I’ve received a lot of support—from leaders like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, and Jonathan Rosenberg to mentors like Bill Campbell—my experience in the tech industry has shown me just how pervasive that question is.
Time and again, I’ve faced the slights that come with that question. I’ve had my abilities and commitment to my job questioned. I’ve been left out of key industry events and social gatherings. I’ve had meetings with external leaders where they primarily addressed the more junior male colleagues. I’ve had my comments frequently interrupted and my ideas ignored until they were rephrased by men. No matter how often this all happened, it still hurt.
This commentary brought back my own painful memories of discrimination in the workplace, including at a time when such discrimination was considered acceptable.
And today women (and minorities) are still underrepresented in many arenas, such as action movie directors in Hollywood and, of course, top leadership roles and the tech industry.
For an example of working to right this diversity imbalance, read Shanee Edwards’ August 14, 2017, Playa Vista Direct article “Building a Pipeline of Diversity” about the program Film2Future.com for racially diverse under-served high school students in Los Angeles to have a pipeline into Hollywood careers.
My own personal antidote to this ongoing discrimination is to write strong female (and minority) fictional characters whenever possible. (I talk about this in my post “Why Is Diversity in Fiction So Important?”)
And whenever it is appropriate, I include in my posts information about the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, whose motto is “If she can see it, she can be it.”
The institute distributes powerful videos on gender equality such as this one:
Women working after WWII
Although I am not an historian, I’d like to share something I saw many years ago in the now closed Norman Rockwell museum in Philadelphia. One of his Saturday Evening Post covers had this article headline (I am reciting from memory and, yes, the use of the word “men” compared to the word “girls” is correct even though “coming home” may have been “returning home”): Now that the men are coming home can the girls keep their jobs?
The answer turned out to be no.
Since that first taste of equality as women took over men’s jobs during WWII, it has been a long road of clawing back up to equality — with a great deal of climbing still to go.
And, of course, when I talk about diversity in the workplace, I am not only talking about more women in leadership and tech roles, I am also talking about more minorities and more physically challenged individuals.
It is human nature to want to be included in community. Look around yourself and see if you can help welcome diversity in your communities.
P.S. Given the other ongoing diversity news at the time of writing this post (such as in Charlottesville, Virginia), I want to mention my women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, which was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist. The novel, set in 1970 at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, concerns racial prejudice including Northern and Southern attitudes.
MRS. LIEUTENANT is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle (and the Kindle version is free via Kindle Unlimited) — click here to check it out on Amazon.
© 2017 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller