RC Woodmass @ Lesbians Who Tech 2019: Notes
The Lesbians Who Tech + Allies San Francisco Summit is the largest LGBTQ professional event in the world. We focus on increasing the visibility of LGBTQ women, trans and gender nonconforming individuals, LGBTQ people of colour, and demographics that are underrepresented in the tech sector and LGBTQ spaces. We’ve been called, “The best tech conference, ever, ” and, “The most diverse tech conference they’ve ever been to,” and our favorite, “It’s like TED, but with cooler people.”
We are a tech conference first. A tech conference where the speakers happen to be 80% queer women, 50% women of color, 25% black & latinx and 15% transgender and gender non-conforming. We cover topics from top technical trends, to how technology will shape our future and career growth, so our community can grow and thrive.
Redefining Silicon Valley Culture
Key Takeaways from Bo Young Lee, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Uber
You have to really love yourself and be comfortable with who you are to be inclusive - and the majority of leaders in tech are high-performing, high-anxiety people. "Self doubt triggers self-protective bias, which leads to a lot of the discriminatory behaviour that we see. If you learn to like yourself a bit more, people who are different than you won't appear threatening."
"Assume that you have biases. If you believe that you aren't racist, are gender inclusive, aren't homophobic, don't see gender, then you are more likely to display biased behaviour."
The Need to Belong: The Neuroscience of Inclusion
Key Takeaways from Rachel Etnire, Employee Resource Group Program Manager, New Relic
A more diverse company starts with inclusion. At New Relic, the initiatives came from the CEO, which was very powerful.
Most companies are reactive and not proactive when it comes to their diversity and inclusion programs. It’s important to remember that being nice is not enough. The following “Inclusion Mindset” needs to be cultivated.
Ask yourself the following questions if you are going to build a truly inclusive workplace.
Who is benefitting from this?
Who is burdened by this?
Why Inclusion Mindset is Important
Exclusion was deadly for our ancestors. These days, most of the threats we encounter are at work. Social threats, relationship threats. This leads to the amygdala hijack. An amygdala hijack is also known as a fight, flight, or freeze response, and can be triggered by exclusion or change. This can be as simple as a desk move. An amygdala hijack causes 10-15 IQ points’ worth of cognitive impairment in neuro-typical individuals, and the impairment is significantly worse for neuro-atypical people.
The good news is that there is a solution.
When we talk about negative feelings and emotions, our brain activity moves back to the prefrontal cortex (out of the amygdala). This solution requires an environment where people have psychological safety; where it is safe for them to talk about their feelings. To be able to empathize, and create a psychologically safe environment, you don’t need to know why they feel the way they do, you just need to know that you have felt similarly in the past.
The Art of a Code of Conduct: It’s Not Just for Conferences
Key Takeaways from Tara Hernandez, Senior Engineering Manager, Google
Everyone wants to be good, but it’s not always clear how to get there. The employee handbook is generally not a document for culture, and culture is not something that you can dictate. It evolves based on the people who are on your team.
A code of conduct is a tool for influence. It provides quantification and curation of a balance system intended to create a better company, and ultimately, a better industry.
At Google Cloud, we have our Code of Conduct on every repository. It enables increased psychological safety because people know what is expected of them, and in turn teams with people who feel safe (psychological safety) thrive.
Keynote: Leanne Pittsford
Takeaways from Leanne Pittsford, Founder & CEO, Lesbians Who Tech & Allies
“Time bound quotas are the only way to reach diversity goals.”
“If someone asks you how to get more queer women in tech, turn it on them and ask, What have you already" tried?’ The best way to hire women and people of colour is to hire them.”
Category Is… Access
Some quotes from Angelica Ross, Founder & CEO, TransTech Social Enterprises, CEO, Miss Ross, Inc & Actress, “Pose”
“Trans people of colour have trouble accessing safe places, and communities of people who understand them and where they are coming from. Trans people are still trying to gain access to spaces that our “LGBTQ+ community” has access to on a regular basis. We have a lot of people in our community with access. So I want to know, as a trans person, what do YOU have access to and are you sharing that access and those resources?”
“As much as things change, there are still things that stay the same. There aren’t a lot of people behind us. With marriage equality won, some people have packed their bags and gone home. We have to make sure we are checking for each other.”
“Racism is an illness. Ignorance is an illness. We become the cure. Our identities, our lives, our experiences are the cure. Let them experience us. Let them be fans. Be excellent and know how to drop the right knowledge nugget right now. Do not waste your opportunities.”
“What do you have access to and how are you sharing that? How are you using it to benefit our communities?”
Thank you RC for the insightful notes on the Lesbians Who Tech 2019 Conference!
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