My Minority Report

Recently Karen talked and blogged about role models in technology, and referred to the “underrepresentation of women and minorities”. I believe that diversity and equal opportunity are essential in the workplace, both for moral and practical reasons. But most (not all) conversations about “minorities” annoy me, and now I realise why: it’s how the minority classes are defined.

I’m a white male, so the naïve observer may think “not black, not female, therefore not minority” (a fallacy, of course). Many of these observers claim to oppose racism and sexism, but still use my skin colour and gender to classify me. They justify that discrimination by saying that it has no negative impact on me because I’m part of the majority group. Are they really saying “you white guys all look the same”? Or worse, “all you white guys are the same”?

I’m actually a member of one minority group that is 0.00026 of the world’s population. I look like a short hairy version of the standard white guy, and I speak a dialect of the standard language. But the dialect reflects a cultural difference in thinking. And since “technology” as an industry is founded on thinking (although sometimes it doesn’t seem so) it is the difference in thinking that should be considered.