Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Diversity from an automotive racing perspective

Diversity in tech is an issue that needs no introduction. Although, I just did that.

I attended a large professional automotive drag racing event last weekend, and coming from a tech background, the diversity in that field was so obvious that it just goes unnoticed to everyone else. The leaderboards are peppered with women and men. The biggest names in racing are women and men. The crowd cheers for women and men. The attendance itself is women and men.

And children. Young children. Teens. Boys and Girls.

In fact, children are often seen in the racing pits, watching helping Daddy and Mommy repair an engine, prepare the car for the next round and do whatever it takes to win.

Where are the children in tech? Where are the children at EclipseCon? Where are the children in your office building?

My daughter in 2010, at age 4, watching a race from afar while I change tires.

We involve our children into our leisure activities at a young age -- be it art, sports, or automotive racing. But I don't see the same type of involvement in tech.

My expertise on this matter is only as exhaustive as my observation skills, but here is what I am doing to encourage my daughter to go into tech:

- I bring my daughter to the office for 1/2 days when I can. She spends most of her time doing activities she prefers, and I occasionally show her what I'm working on and why it's important.

- I bring my daughter to the data center, where the Eclipse servers are running. She is not allowed to touch, and I only spend a few minutes there since it's quite cold.

- I show my daughter pictures and content of the tech conferences I go to.

- I relate my daughter's homework to what I do for a living.

... and I will do all the same with my son, as soon as he reaches an appropriate age.

If we want to improve diversity in tech, I think it has to happen at an early age. If Demo Camps, hackathons, conferences and even daily office activities were more children/family-friendly, perhaps diversity in tech would be like diversity in professional drag racing:

A non-issue.