The Diverse Faces of Silicon Valley's Techies
With a predominantly white male workforce, most technology companies in Silicon Valley aren’t exactly known as bastions of diversity.
Despite the dominance of brogrammers, there are women, people of color, and other folks from marginalized backgrounds who work in tech—and a new portrait project hopes to make their stories more visible.
The photo series, called Techies, highlights the varying faces, experiences, and personal identities of those who otherwise go underrepresented in the heart of California’s technology industry.
A female software architect with blue hair, a half Puerto Rican trans woman working as an engineer manager, and a 30-year-old VR researcher who sustained a brain injury from gas poisoning when she was 10 are just a few examples of some of the 100 people featured in the series.
San Francisco–based photographer Helena Price, who has worked in the tech industry since 2009, started the project in January after putting out a call for submissions on Medium.
“For this project I will focus on subjects who tend to be underrepresented in the greater tech narrative. I want to hear from women, people of color, folks over 50, LGBT, working parents, disabled, etc.,” she wrote.
Price explained that she wanted “to show the outside world a more comprehensive picture of people who work in tech” and “bring a bit of attention to folks in the industry whose stories have never been heard, considered, or celebrated.”
Within two weeks, Price had received roughly 500 submissions, which were whittled down to the 100 individuals who were photographed.
Viewers of the project can filter images to match their background by clicking on tags such as “LGBT,” “first generation,” “self-taught,” “disability,” or “career switch.”
“For me, this is a good project that’s adding to the ongoing conversation around diversity in technology, but it’s important to remember that the number of diverse individuals in technology is still tiny,” Kimberly Bryant, founder of the nonprofit Black Girls Code, told TakePart. Like Price, Bryant seeks to promote diversity in the workforce. Her organization introduces young girls from underrepresented communities to coding at an early age through workshops and school programs.
A 2015 survey conducted by Fortune found that women make up about a third of the tech workforce in the industry’s top nine companies, including Google and Microsoft—both of which had less than 20 percent of women working for them. Some tech giants, such as Intel, however, are leading the pack in promoting diversity in the workplace—the company recently reached its goal of ensuring women and underrepresented minorities made up 40 percent of new hires in 2015.
Bryant pointed out that People of Color in Tech, a website that aims to feature two people of color in the industry every week, and the online community Women of Color in Tech Chat are also working to reframe the conversation around diversifying the technology workforce.
Studies have shown that companies perform better financially when they have a more diverse workforce, but women and minorities continue to be the outliers in fast-growing start-ups and engineering firms.
“There’s still so much work to be done,” Bryant said.