“Diversity is not a quota that needs to be met. To be truly diverse is recognizing and appreciating the differences within yourself and in society as a whole. True diversity starts with you.”
Aisha Addo (CEO & Founder of DriveHER)
At the start of the year, I was given the task to suggest a theme for Hackergal’s fall programming. As the newest member to join the team, I wanted to make sure I would impress my team but I also wanted to choose something that meaningfully summed up the year we’ve collectively experienced. Keeping in mind Hackergal’s mission, and our main focus to inspire and teach girls the endless possibilities in code, I started my research. One thing that stood out to me in 2020 is that inequity is rife in society and we need to pay attention and adapt accordingly. In doing so, I created the theme “There is Power in Diversity! #RISE2020” (Reflect, Innovate, Share, and Encourage).
Diversity in the technology industry has been a long standing conversation with many different voices and perspectives. In a field of predominantly white, male developers, the world of tech has a long way to go and each of us have a role to play in that journey. This theme was focused on collectively RISING to the challenge to advocate for a diverse and equitable technology landscape for our future leaders.
What does this mean and why is there power in diversity?
The Cambridge Dictionary provides two different definitions to the word diversity. The first one is “the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something” and the second one is “the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something.” I find this fascinating, as these two definitions really highlight why diversity is not only something we should aim for just because it’s cool or the latest trend, but it’s actually a very powerful tool to unleash the potential of teams, of individuals, and of society. A team that welcomes and encourages different opinions and ideas is way more likely to innovate, disrupt the market and be successful. Imagine what this world would look like!
Another powerful definition is from an American University that talks about acceptance and respect. According to them, diversity is about understanding that every individual is unique, appreciating our individual differences and celebrating the cultural enrichment diversity brings in. They don’t refer only to gender diversity, but also to other dimensions, like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities and any beliefs or ideologies including religious and political. This truly resonates with me.
Why is there power in diversity?
I believe that diversity is a requirement across all industries for the future. The growing diversity in science and engineering is our strength and given the global challenges we face today, we need all the mental muscle power we can get. If scientists and engineers continue to be at the forefront of innovation, they also must fully embrace the growing understanding of the power of diversity. Not only is diversity morally important, it also leads to better outcomes. The National Center for Women & Information Technology conducted a study of 2,360 communities in multiple industries and found that “companies with women on their executive boards outperformed companies with all-male executive boards. Gender-diverse management teams showed superior returns on equity, debt/equity ratios, price/equity ratios, and average growth.” Women improved both productivity and team dynamics.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the way we receive information, how we process it, how we work and what jobs we will do. It is happening at an unprecedented pace. Because of this, we simply cannot afford to have any less than our whole population engaged and contributing. Some of the answers are out there: give girls role models, teach them the skills they will need, encourage them, and show them that technology careers will help change the world for the better. By 2030, women can and will be critical to leveraging this revolution for the benefit of our global society. The more diverse your environment, the more creative and evolved are the products that come from it.
So this is my personal invitation for you to join our community and Reflect, Innovate, Share, and Encourage (RISE) together to bring more gender diversity to the tech sector! There’s so much more to be done and we have a long way to go.
Join Hackergal on Saturday December 12th, 2020 for our final celebration of our Fall programming theme: There is Power in Diversity and RISE with us as we advocate for a diverse and equitable technology landscape.
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As the great writer and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”.