https://apps.facebook.com/techworeld/proo/?i=1050825 LexxyTech Corporations LexxyTech Corporation: Tech: A photographer captured portraits of underrepresented people working at Google, Facebook, and Apple

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tech: A photographer captured portraits of underrepresented people working at Google, Facebook, and Apple

Nancy Douyon, a UX researcher at Google.

Photographer Helena Price spoke people in tech about what it's like to work in a white, male-dominated industry in her series "Techies."

Earlier this week, Google fired engineer James Damore after he wrote a memo asserting that biological differences between men and women are responsible for the tech industry’s gender gap. The 10-page document, first reported by Motherboard, criticizes Google initiatives designed to increase gender and racial diversity.

Silicon Valley has always battled a diversity problem, but in recent years, it's been getting extra attention. According to reports released by the largest tech companies in 2015, the stats are pretty dismal. Women hold only 18% of Google's tech jobs. Only 1% of Twitter employees are black. At Facebook, barely 3% of workers are Hispanic.

Helena Price, a photographer who lives in San Francisco, captured this underrepresented slice of Silicon Valley in 2016. For her new project called "Techies," she interviewed and took 100 portraits of coders, designers, and CEOs who work in tech and come from diverse backgrounds. It features an eclectic mix: women, people of color, immigrants, people without formal education, people over 5o, LGBTQ people, and the disabled.

She hopes to challenge stereotypes of those working in tech and encourage companies to hire and retain a more diverse workforce. All of the portraits are fair use.

"I created this with the hope people will take the content, digest it, tear it apart, analyze it, repurpose it, and build new things with it," Price told Business Insider.

Take a look at the featured workers, including employees from Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Price posted a call for subjects in early 2016 and received over 500 applicants in a matter of days. After she narrowed the pool down to 100, she interviewed the subjects about their experiences working in Silicon Valley. Then, she took their portraits.



Many of her subjects reiterated similar sentiments, like the fact that a sense of belonging is tough when no one else looks like you.

"I have only met one other black female designer in tech in the past six years," Tiffany Taylor, a self-taught web designer, told Price.



"When you come from poverty and you're also gay, Cambodian, Mormon, and a refugee of war, there's always an inherent isolation," said Chanpory Rith, MixMax's co-founder and a former Gmail designer.



Lauren Frazier is a lead iOS Engineer at Google, and has spent six years working in tech. "I struggled a lot with confidence and identity in college because there was this general feeling that there’s a certain type of student in computers science and that student is going to grow up and change the world. They’re the next Mark Zuckerberg and the next Bill Gates," she said.



Nancy Douyon, a User Experience Research Program Manager for Google’s Consumer Operations, is Haitian American and went from a career in farming to Silicon Valley.

"I currently lead research on the end to end experience for all new and critical launches. In 2015, I completed 25 research studies, 23 invited talks, worked in 12 countries (overall has worked in 20+ countries), organized 8 community events, conducted 8 workshops, participated in 4 carnival masquerades, received 3 recognition honors, and was part of 2 major Google product launches," she said.



"I’ve worked at places where my manager assumed that anything wrong with the website was my bug, just because I was the only woman on the team," said Amy Wibowo, an engineer at Airbnb.



Tech's diversity problem is more an issue of prejudice, rather than pipeline, said VR researcher and YouTuber Emily Eifler.

"Everybody is biased, just acknowledge it, and then build systems to make sure that it doesn’t affect the population of your company," she said.



Mylene Hortaleza, an engineer at Amazon, had an unplanned pregnancy at 16 years old and left her Texas hometown to find a job in Silicon Valley.

"I started college at 16 and majored in Computer Science. I had an unplanned pregnancy and ended up having a baby a month before my graduation. Being in survival mode, I had no time or energy to prioritize my career. I stayed with my parents who offered to watch my baby while I worked," she said.

"Fast forward to 2001, my sister lent me money for a one-way ticket to Texas where my two sisters lived. The hardest part was leaving my daughter behind until I could afford to support us both."



Price hopes the project will shed light on diversity issues in Silicon Valley, like how venture capitalists usually only fund projects that solve problems they can personally relate to. That's why many products by people from different backgrounds don't even make it through the first round, said Jerry Nemorin, an investment banker-turned-founder.



Erin Parker, co-founder of the app Spitfire Athlete, feels tired of hearing "no."

"The first time I told a VC that he was straight out wrong, it felt so good," she said. "We couldn't come to an agreement, but I felt bada-- as f--- for standing my ground."



Julie Ann Horvath, a senior UX designer at Apple, grew up poor, but taught herself how to code.

"The internet has always felt like magic to me," she said. "It’s this thing that anyone — even people like us that come from a pretty low socioeconomic background — can access these tools to teach ourselves things."



Others talked about grappling with both the privileged and unprivileged parts of their identities. Lukas Blakk came from a poor background, but now manages mobile releases at Pinterest.

"I've spent my time in tech trying to pull other people up into opportunities for learning and getting better paying work," she said.



February Keeney, a transgender woman who works as an engineering manager at GitHub, said she received more job offers when she presented as fully masculine.

"My journey through tech was easy for a decade and a half — when I transitioned I learned just how much privilege I had been afforded by presenting as male all those years."



Kent Brewster, who has worked in software for 38 years, knows what it's like to be young and valued in tech — and then not so much.

"Ageism began when Mark Zuckerberg said the famous words, 'Young people are just smarter,'" he said.



"As someone striving to enter the technology industry, I had a lot of optimism for how tech can create this awesome change and impact society due to its far-reaching nature and scale," said Lisa Sty, a sponsor of Price's project who is first generation American and a product designer at Facebook.



Clem Breslin, a support specialist at SoundCloud, is proud to tell their story. "You are disrupting things just by virtue of stepping out, educating people on trans identity, and advocating for yourself and just getting in people’s faces and bringing things to light that would have never surfaced before,” they said.

You can read all 100 stories here.





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