Lea Alcantara: You are listening to CTRL+CLICK CAST. We inspect the web for you! Today we are talking about improving diversity in tech with special guests, Ashe Dryden and Faruk Ateş. I’m your host, Lea Alcantara, and I’m joined by my fab co-host:
Emily Lewis: Emily Lewis!
Lea Alcantara: This episode is brougth to you by EllisLab. ExpressionEngine is the web professional’s content management system of choice. If you haven’t used ExpressionEngine in a while, give their latest release a try. You’ll find it speedier, stable and more capable system than ever before. They love their customers and their customers love ExpressionEngine. Come and speak to EllisLab in person at Peers Conf in Philadelphia on April 30th to May 2nd.
Speaking of Peers, our major sponsor, Pixel & Tonic is also sending their Craft team to Philly for Peers Conf. Catch them between April 30 to May 2nd and get tickets at peersconf.com. Check out buildwithcraft.com/community to keep updated on what Pixel & Tonic and Craft are up in the community and for more details on the event I just mentioned.
Emily Lewis: Today we have two guests joining us to talk about improving diversity in our tech industry. Ashe Dryden is a programmer, diversity advocate, author and creator of AlterConf. She’s one of the foremost experts on diversity in the tech industry, and our other guest is Faruk Ateş. Faruk is a product designer, developer and entreprenerd. He lives and works in San Francisco and writes and speaks about diversity all over the internet and the world. Welcome to the show, Ashe and Faruk.
Ashe Dryden: Thanks.
Faruk Ateş: Thank you.
Lea Alcantara: So Ashe, can you tell our listeners a bit more about yourself?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, so I’ve been a programmer for about the past 14 years and over the past couple of years, I started doing much more work in the area of diversity and inclusion because I’ve noticed that it’s been a huge problem, so I speak a lot and I write and I’ve created this conference series to bring together marginalized people to talk about the lack of diversity in tech and gaming since there’s so much overlap, and on top of that, I also do consulting so I work with a lot of companies and conferences to figure out how they can hire better, create more healthy cultures and improve diversity on stage and in seats.
Lea Alcantara: Sounds good, and we’ll talk a little bit more about that deeper into the show, but before that, how about you, Faruk, can you tell our listeners a little bit more about you?
Faruk Ateş: Yeah, I’ve been doing web development since I was a teenager in the nineties and I turned that into my career, and I’ve just gotten like always been really involved in things like accessibility and then kind of naturally gradually turned into accessibility and diversity and like anything kind of related to good, healthy, inclusive cultures, making happy communities. I was always involved in community, so it all kind of converged into this sort of work that I do now.
Emily Lewis: I like hearing how you both have evolved into advocacy, but you originally were just hands-on programmer/designer/developers, and I think it’s one of those things that what we do is only part of who we are and it’s all about the experiences we have that sort of define us and what makes us feel passionate about things. So since diversity is the topic of the day, I really wanted to start with the basics, how do you define diversity, Ashe?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, so this is actually something I speak about a lot. A lot of times when we talk about “diversity in tech,” we kind of use it as a code for “where are the women,” and when I speak to diversity, it’s much broader than that. It’s a wide range of experiences and lifestyles that bring you to being the person that you are today, so it’s not just male and female.
There’s an entire spectrum of gender there, it’s race, it’s ability, it’s nation of origin, there are so many different things in there that make us who we are. So diversity is being aware of all of those separate things and celebrating them and keeping them from hindering people doing what they ultimately would like to do.
Lea Alcantara: How about you, Faruk?
Faruk Ateş: How to add to that, it has been covered. To me, it’s really about representation of people with all of their vast differences, race, gender, like backgrounds. A big part for me is making any kind of environment, whether that’s online or in person or in a community or in a work place, making the inclusive, because having it not be inclusive really distracts people from actually being able to do what they want to do and they have to focus on these other things. They have to sort of like fight for their existence, their identity, which is not working on great things. What we found and there were some like study after study that show this that the more diverse a work group, the better the outcome, the better the results and it’s something that I’ve always have found as well personally, so it may just have come from personal background of growing up in a very multi-cultural society in the Netherlands where I’ve always felt more at home when everyone feels at home and feels welcome, and that’s a big thing for me and that’s kind of like how diversity to me is sort of like what it represents.
Emily Lewis: If I can ask you to dive into that a little bit more, I’m curious so when you came to live in the United States, was there a bit of a culture shock in that regard in terms of a feeling that the environments you were in, whether they were your work or your community, that they were not diverse compared to where you had grown up?
Faruk Ateş: Not as much as you might think. A big part of that was that I’ve traveled a lot growing up, so I’ve been very fortunate in that my parents have always been like very strong and favorable towards travel, and so I already had a lot of experience visiting the United States. So moving there ended up not being much of a culture shock in that sense because I was already familiar with it, even though I never worked on it until like a couple of years ago and then suddenly like moved my whole life here.
There were other culture shocks, but they were less about this sort of thing, but I also think that it might have been because even in the Netherlands, in technology, it’s still comparatively homogenous to socient at large, and that disconnect was something I had already picked up on, and I don’t think I was surprised by that still sort of being true in technology, but in the US.
Emily Lewis: Ashe, how did diversity becomes something that was passionate for you to talk about?
Ashe Dryden: Well, I mean, I’ve always really had like an ingrained sense of justice. When I was growing up, I noticed that there was a lot of injustice in the world, and that really upset me and I feel like what I was told as a child about the world being a very fair place and we treat people like this, and that wasn’t really the case. So as I got older, I started reading more and talking to more different kinds of people and that kind of thing, and I noticed so much of an issue in my chosen fields that I was often the only woman in the room, the room were almost all whites.
I mean, in the 14 years of being a programmer, I’ve only ever worked with two women and no people of color, and that was really, really disconcerting to me, and then when I started engaging more in the community itself, going to conferences and other events and I was experiencing sexual harassments and a lot of negative stereotypes about women and queer people in the industry and that was really disconcerting to me. A couple of years ago, there was a conference that ended up canceling altogether because they had advertisers being one of the most diverse conferences on a certain programming language in Western Europe and their entire lineup was made of white English-speaking as a native language men, and so the conversation kind of got started about, what does diversity mean and why is this important, and why are we still in this day and age continuing to see so few different kinds of people speaking at conferences, getting recognition for their work.
It kind of took off from there. I got angry about it, and so people started noticing, which was interesting, so it kind of what brought me to where I am now.
Emily Lewis: Yeah, this is something that Lea and I talk about often one on one, particularly from a female perspective working in our industry, and it’s definitely one of those things you can get really angry about. I just have to admit, because I want to put it out there from the beginning, I’m not nervous about this conversation because I have these conversations with people all the time, but it’s not something that we’ve ever discussed in detail in CTRL+CLICK CAST and I’m curious to see how our audience is going to respond to it. I hope they respond positively because I do think this is a positive conversation to have, and I kind of want to talk about the positive aspects of bringing diversity into a community, into a workplace, into a conference, so let’s talk about like the positive aspects of what diversity brings, and then ways we can encourage it and make it happen. So Faruk, you sort of mentioned this a little bit already, like I think you mentioned some studies and such, but can you expand on the idea of what the benefits are of a diverse workplace?
Faruk Ateş: Well, it’s a combination of diverse workplace and also inclusive, and usually a more diverse workplace also is a more inclusive workplace, but the two are still separate things and you can have one without the other. The main benefit is that when you create any kind of product, whether it’s just an artistic project or a consumer product or software or website or whatever it might be, but whenever you create any kind of product with more than one person, the collaboration of your team and the ideas that you put into your product and ideas you bring to the table, they help shape the quality of the product end result.
The more diverse ideas you have about it more so like you can look at things from different angles, the more ideas you have to explore and test and validate and whatever the product may be, you have all these ideas about it and then they help inform and shape the product and its quality.
One of the things that has been consistently the case, and this is to me completely unsurprising, yet people keep doing studies into this, but the more diverse a group of people you have, the more diverse the set of ideas you bring to the table as a whole and the more interesting and diverse ideas that go into the products are, and this helps any kind of product really refine itself to a better quality product that is more appealing to more people so it does better in the marketplace. It has broader array of target audiences that can surely reach out to and appeal to, and all these things just contribute to better retun on investments from a business perspective. The bigger thing for me personally is that when people work on such a team where everyone just feels like at home and welcome to contribute, they can focus on their ideas in what they can do with them, and they don’t have to defend themselves in an environment that may be critical about something about them. Those things are just distractions. They are demoralizing.
There are a whole number of unhappy words, and to me, like we just get so much positivity when we focus on creating great things when we work on things that excite us, that we’re enthusiastic about, and the culture of a team in a community or a workplace influences how enthusiastic we can be about any kind of product because when there are distractions keeping you from focusing on your work, then you cannot be as enthusiastic about the work. I mean, you cannot express your ideas as clearly, and overall, just the output of everything suffers from it and people are less happy about it.
Lea Alcantara: Yeah, I just want to point out the main benefit that you mentioned about like it is also business benefit beyond just culturally improving things. The first thing that comes to mind is being able to reach a broader customer base because if you’re speaking to that customer base, then they’re more likely to want to use your product. One of the things I keep thinking about for example because it came up recently is when Apple released their HealthKit, and that’s great, like people are adding information and doing things with their health, that’s very general, but what was really interesting as somebody pointed out was a very, very common thing that 50% of people have to deal with is their menstrual cycle and it’s not default in a general HealthKit situation, and it’s one of those things where if perhaps the team or the system was a lot more inclusive, then that may have been added and could have been a good feature for everyone to use.
Faruk Ateş: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a perfect example of like if you imagined HealthKit being developed by a team comprised of at least 50% women, if not like 60% or 70% women, what are the chances that this massively important health aspect to women’s health would not be included in that?
Emily Lewis: Right. [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Right. Once a month. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: It’s reality for…
Faruk Ateş: It’s a reminder there.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I just want to ask you, Ashe, about the direct benefits of a diverse workplace, like what are the specific, immediate, positive things that happen when you have an inclusive and diverse environment?
Emily Lewis: Actually, before you answer that, what’s the difference between inclusive and diverse?
Lea Alcantara: Right.
Emily Lewis: Are they one and the same? Ashe, if you could tackle that first.
Ashe Dryden: Yes, absolutely. They are absolutely not the same thing. You can have diversity without inclusion. So diversity is representation. Inclusion is a feeling of belonging, your needs, your wants, desires being centered and not others. So you’re not made to feel different or being left out in some way because people haven’t thought about your existence in that space. So there’s a very big difference between diversity and inclusion, and as far as the benefits, I definitely echo a lot of what Faruk said. But for me, the greatest thing is that it is ethically the right thing to do. I care about people, we should care about the people that work for us. We should care about the products that we create being used by all different kinds of people.
If you’re a capitalist, you want to create products that can be used by the widest range of people. So if you’re in a company that their aim is to sell a thousand widgets, then sell to as many different kinds of people as possible to get those numbers up. But for me, it’s seeing that anybody who wants to participate be able to participate, be able to succeed on their own merits, not feeling like they have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition. That to me is the biggest benefit, knowing that I work in a place I contribute to an atmosphere that allows for people of all different backgrounds and experiences and lifestyles to participate equally.
Emily Lewis: So in your consulting, and forgive me if this is a wrong word, but how do you “sell” this to a company?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, it’s a tough thing. There’s not a lot of money in selling diversity, that’s for sure. It’s thankfully become a much wider topic now because we’ve had so many more visible, unfortunately, bad things that have happened in the tech industry that more and more people are seeing like, “Oh hey, this is something that we have to deal with, we have to mitigate these kinds of issues lest we become the next new story.” So I’m seeing a lot of companies are looking to, you know. This is kind of an insurance policy more than anything else, which breaks my heart. It’s like I’m glad that they’re doing it, but that’s not the right reason. I’m telling, “You know what, you should be wanting to do this because you don’t want somebody who works for you to get hurt because that’s the reality of what this is.”
So selling it is – I don’t know – I feel like that most people who comes to me understands the basic tenets of what I’m teaching, when I’m speaking about it, and they know that this is a hard road. It seriously pays off. Marginalized people, and by marginalized, I mean, anybody whose needs and wants aren’t centered, so anybody who is kind of pushed to the sidelines. So we’re talking about people of minority, genders, sexuality, races, from different countries, from different religions, with different abilities, all different kinds of people who are pushed to the sidelines here.
Creating a space that they feel that they can participate in actually increases the number of people that you can hire at your company, the success of those people, and marginalized people talk about those things. There is a little strong whisper network about where you can and cannot succeed because of these invisible barriers that are put out for you. So it pays off, it takes a little bit of time, but it definitely pays off.
Emily Lewis: Yeah, the way you were describing it in the beginning as being something that it seems that some companies are turning to it as an insurance policy or to not be the latest news story. It reminds me a lot of investing in accessibility for website, web applications. It’s something that there’s a perception in companies that it’s something that you do to avoid getting sued as opposed to it’s just good business sense.
Lea Alcantara: Beyond just good business sense, don’t you want more people to access your information in whatever way they want to access the information you’re giving out.
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, absolutely, and consider the fact that believing from that standpoint of “we want to do this as a kind of insurance policy so we don’t get sued,” all of the onus that you’re putting on somebody that cannot access your information or is treated poorly, and in this system like you’re expecting then that, “Okay, this person is going to have to go get a lawyer. They’re going to have to fight a long time,” they’re going to be torn apart and harassed and sent death and grave threats online because they dare to speak up. We’re seeing this with Ellen Pao relatively recently, right, like she dared to speak up and look what’s happening?
Emily Lewis: Right.
Ashe Dryden: So we’re putting all of that onus on somebody who is already being pushed down instead of just doing the right thing in the right place, and it’s cheaper and it takes less time, and it looks better on you. I tell people, “I don’t do disaster recovery. Do the right thing.”
Emily Lewis: You’re right.
Lea Alcantara: And Faruk, you were about to say something.
Faruk Ateş: Yeah, with accessibility thing because it’s very much the same sort of fight. I mean, that you benefit from accessibility. Your customers benefit from it, like you won’t be sued if you’re accessible. There are lots of benefits, but we still see it in the same way with web development where accessibility in websites is still something that has to be fought for and argued for and developers have to be convinced that it’s something they should actually take into consideration, and the struggle there is also similar in that with accessibility, the struggles connote that a lot of developers just want to sort of like do however they want to do it, with strong opinions and they don’t want to have to worry about all this extra stuff, like they’d sort of see this extra stuff, but the reality is if you just work on this sort of thing with the right understanding and knowledge ahead of time, then you’re already going to do it sort of like the right way around, and you’re already going to make it accesssible as you build it, and it’s not going to cost extra work. It’s not going to be something you have to do twice to work.
With diversity and inclusivity, it’s very much the same way. If you just do it right from the beginning and you educate yourself in these principles, then you’re not doing extra work, you’re just doing maybe a little bit of extra work in that you’d have to do this education for yourself and that’s ongoing. That’s a never ending amount of work for most of us. I can’t speak for Ashe, but for a lot of us, like that initial education is an extra step, but then after that, the work becomes easier. It’s true for accessibility. It’s true here and that’s how I found that these are actually very similar because we still to this day have the same problem with accessibility as well, even though at times it seems like, “Oh yeah, that sort of like a fight that we had and then won and now everyone is making accessible website.” Except they’re not, that’s an ongoing fight or an ongoing struggle at least, and this same principles happen here.
I think one key thing I want to just add to that is that with things like diversity and specifically the more oppressive parts of it like sexism and racism, they have become in some areas much more subtle and covert, and that makes it much harder to identify them and call them out, and that’s something we also saw with the Ellen Pao case and that’s just the problem persists. It’s just something that it evolved to adapt to an environment that was hostile to the problem, which is good because the problem itself was a toxic one, but it’s harder to identify now, and that’s the struggle we now have like educating people about how this stuff works and how do you understand it when it’s really hard to even see, and it looks like it might even be nothing like, “Oh, it’s just a tiny thing,” but it all adds up.
Lea Alcantara: I think part of this, and I’d like to talk to Ashe about it a little bit more, it’s that empathy, like understanding and taking it to developer terms or even startup terms like your audience isn’t just you, like you can’t just assume that you, the developer, is the audience of this product, and in fact, you might be the opposite audience or not even the target audience, but your experience doesn’t inform everyone’s experience. That’s the entire thing about accessibility. So for example, just making a bunch of assumptions, Emily and I, this is a podcast, so the majority of our listeners are actually listening, but we’ve had comments from hearing-impaired listeners who thank us for having transcripts, and we have these transcripts for a variety of reasons for our podcast, but we don’t make any assumptions or force people to ingest our information how we want to just like blast it out.
Just having that consideration that there might be people who are too busy to listen to the entirety of the show, so they want to scan the transcripts all the way to the fact that there are people who are in our industry who are developers and designers that are hearing-impaired, but they still want the informatio that we send out accessible to them. Like we can’t assume that everyone visiting your site has the exact same abilities and thoughts processes as you.
Emily Lewis: I’m sorry. I just want to chime in there to reflect off of something Faruk was saying. It seems that what I heard from you is that it really starts with this awareness, this mindset, and I feel like I continue to draw a parallel with accessibility, but I feel like that was it for me as a web developer that once I had an understanding of what accessibility could do for people, and then beyond that, what it could do for the quality of a website, that was just my mindset, like I’m not an expert at it, but I think about it and I factor it in and I try and educate myself on an ongoing basis about it. So Ashe, I want to turn to you, is that where you start with your diversity consulting? Is it education from the beginning or are there actual behavioral things you ask companies to do to start?
Ashe Dryden: It’s a mixture of both, so the biggest problem that anybody who is doing this kind of work or who experiences this kind of struggle in their everyday lives is a lack of education. There are a lot of people who believe things that aren’t true, that there are a lot of rumors and stereotypes and generalizations that go around that maybe applicable to a very, very small percentage of people, but it certainly not true of all people so a lot of it is education.
We’re not coming to take your job. That kind of very basic, like we just want to participate in this space without having to talk about this at every single step of the way. So how do we get to that point where we’re all understanding the exact same vocabulary, where we’re stopping and considering what we’re saying before we do it, or why we feel so passionately about this one thing that doesn’t affect us? Why are we trying to keep this thing from happening, trying to get through to people on that level? Because really if they don’t start to look at this as these are actual people that are going through these experiences and having really negative experiences all the way from “I couldn’t get a job there” to “I was harassed, my mental health suffered.”
Whatever it is, there are so many things that people suffer from because of this lack of diversity and inclusion. So if we can plant that seed of empathy in people, that means that when they start to make these changes or care about them more, they’ll follow them through to the end, because I can recommend all day long up and down the kinds of things that companies can do, but if they don’t actually take action, if they don’t make it a part of their culture, then they wasted their time and their money.
Lea Alcantara: So Ashe, I know you wrote this on your website, and speaking of what you just mentioned, so why aren’t more companies putting their weight behind the diversity initiatives?
Ashe Dryden: There are a lot of reasons for that. One of the major ones is that companies are really afraid of messing up and going out in the public, and they think that they’re trying to do something positive and they mess up in a very fundamental way because they just didn’t get the input from the people that they’re actually trying to reach out to. They phrase things poorly. Their execution is poor or whatever it is, that’s one reason. It cost time and money. That’s another one. This isn’t easy. When you’re talking about years and years and years of companies only trying to go after the young, white, straight, fit golden boys, it’s very difficult to change that image and to show people like, “Hey, we do care about other people. This is what we’re doing to try and be inclusive.” And you’re not only working against your own track record, but the entire industry’s track record.
I tell companies every day, “It will never be easier or cheaper than it is today.” But so many companies don’t want to start today, so a lot of it is just trying to get them to care, and the major reason that a lot of companies just aren’t putting their weight behind diversity initiative, they don’t think that it affects enough of their audience to warrant that investing time, money or energy into furthering current initiatives to support the employees that they do have to for their career goal attainments and mentoring and hiring of junior developers and engineers and that kind of thing. There are so much that they are kind of in a standstill because they’re like, “There are so many different things that we can do that we are kind of frozen in fear and we don’t know where to start so we just won’t.”
Faruk Ateş: And if I may, there’s one aspect of them that Ashe mentioned them and many more, but ego is also a big part of it where when you go and say like, “Okay, we need to improve our diversity effort,” a lot of that is perceived not necessarily by the outside, but is perceived inside of higher ranks of any company as being you were not doing a good enough job, yet. We can feel that diss. A
nd having to admit that to yourself is something that, especially already powerful white men have a hard time doing, and having to say it like, “You know what, yeah, we totally dropped the ball on this. We need to get better at this,” and he’s coming at it without that sort of like that ego driving it. You see a very big difference between companies that sort of like reluctantly do this and companies that are just going up to it and embrace it, and that is a big thing as well, especially with a lot of the bigger, more successful startup companies that are now like giant tech platforms and all that where ego plays such a really big part in this equation within the people who have to make these decisions, and it’s really hard because you basically have to tell them like, “It’s okay, you don’t have to like feel guilty about this.” But you did do the wrong thing, you have to like square that with yourself internally somehow getting them to that point or getting anyone to that point can be difficult, but it’s especially harder with people who are very successful in professional lives to sort of like take this dimension into consideration as part of what it means to be successful professionally.
Ashe Dryden: I think that you’re absolutely right on that, and I think that that also leads a lot to the, “Well, if we don’t have diversity, it must not be our fault.” They’re not applying, they’re not trying hard enough, there aren’t enough senior engineers. They don’t want to move, they have children. They need flexible hours, and we need people that are going to work 80-hour weeks, and there are a lot of blame that gets placed on marginalized people because there are so much of this, “One part of it is having discriminated against somebody, that’s something that’s wrong and it’s something that bad people do, and I’m not a bad person so that must not be what I did.”
Like that’s kind of the way that we explain that to ourselves, so that’s one part of it, and then the other part is kind of this resentment that, “I worked really hard to get to where I had to get to. Why aren’t these other people doing the exact same thing?” Not realizing all the systems that are in place that make it extremely hard for other people to succeed and at the same time, privileging this individual that’s saying, “I worked so hard.” They don’t see those things in place because privilege makes those things invisible. That’s just the way that they’ve lived their lives always. They don’t see these kinds of things because they’ve never run into them and didn’t stop.
Faruk Ateş: And it lacked the empathy to understand that other people have completely different experiences with the exact same situation, and that’s something that I see middle managers make the mistake of a lot as well when they give advice to women, and I’m probably just as guilty of that myself, but like a lot of the times one man saying to another man like, “You should do this and that, and this is what you should do in your career,” and it’s like, “Okay, that’s a great career advice.” And then if they used that same advice and say that to a woman, they might not realize that some of these things you can only really do without sort of any kind of push back if you’re a man, whereas a woman might be receiving a very different kind of experience to doing or taking some of this advice, and that’s something that like gets overlooked a lot, and it’s not intentional, it’s not even conscious, but it’s something that really affects in a dramatic level the different experiences different people have with what can be the exact same situation.
Ashe Dryden: One of the most difficult things in what I do is teaching this context, like what is appropriate for one person to do is completely different when it comes to another person trying to do it, and in the same way that there are arguments a lot about, “Oh, we have these diversity scholarships that are happening at a lot of conferences where they’re trying to get or trying to create more access for people who historically would not have been able to attend due to financial or scheduling or whatever other reason,” and people are very upset and saying, “Well, these things don’t exist for white men, why would it be inappropriate for me to do that for white men to attend our conference?” And that difference in context is very difficult to both explain, especially as a lot of these conversations happen on Twitter or in comments of blogs, that kind of thing, and for them to understand because a lot of the times we’re looking at them assuming that equality or an equal access means that everybody receives the exact same whatever it is when we’re looking at being so far behind in so many areas that we have to play catch up. We’re trying to proactively work against years and years and years of discrimination and bias and harassments that have not only happened in the tech industry, but have happened, if we’re talking about American society, are structured and our entire society looks like that. It’s a very difficult thing to see and realize and look at that and be able to understand that context in a way that it’s meaningful to them.
Emily Lewis: It reminds me, I was literally reading a piece on PBS NewsHour. It looks like it’s the website. It’s titled “White Millennials are products of a failed lesson in colorblindness.” Being that a generation was raised on some of these notions of everyone being equal and sort of embracing that, but not embracing the reality of systemic, for example, racism that you can appreciate that you shouldn’t treat someone differently based on the color of your skin, but you may not appreciate what history has done and why sometimes it is important to provide opportunities for people that have had to struggle with that institutional systemic issues their whole lives on top of trying to be professional or trying to do whatever they do for a living. I’ll make sure to link to it in the show notes.
Faruk Ateş: A big part of that is also there’s a big difference between sort of like the intellectual, high-level view of like, “Well, I see all people of all races and all genders and all sexualities as they are all equal people.” Like saying that is easy and sort of like intellectually seeing it that way from a high perspective is also very easy and then you feel good about yourself because you’re like, “Yeah, I’m a good person. I treat people equally.”
Or that you see people, but you may not actually treat them equally because in practice, what happens is that so many of the little ways that we communicate like word choices we use in very nondescript situations can actually negatively affect those things and they can make your actions be contributing to that system of inequality, that system of oppression or disenfranchisement, and you’re not even aware of them at the same time that you’re still like intellectually thinking, “Oh well, I just treat everyone equally.” There’s already a big disconnect, and part of the work that people like Ashe and myself have to do is trying to get people to understand the disconnect between how you see all of these things intellectually and what that actually means in the very specific individual actions that you take throughout the day every day for every moment of your life because even just saying something is an action, whether you say it’s in person or online or on a podcast or whether it’s written or verbal, like all of those things are actions, and with each individual action, there’s a potential for there being some contributing factor that either positively or negatively affects these matters, and a lot of people aren’t even aware of that.
Emily Lewis: What do we do then? Because I mean, education is important, empathy is important. I don’t even know how you teach empathy to an adult, and then the subtleties of what you’re describing, Faruk. So when you are challenged to try and do something, what can someone do? What do you do? Is it just a matter of constantly talking about it, or is there anything that’s – I don’t know – more impactful?
Faruk Ateş: Ashe will have a lot more actionable advice in this area, I think. But to me, one of the things I do is I know that like I come from the male background and all those privileges and for mostly white background and mostly white privileges, and I try to always like acknowledge those and be conscious of them whenever I’m faced with a question about this, whether it’s someone actually asking a question or whether I’m faced with a situation where I have to ask myself a question of like what is sort of like the right and inclusive thing to do or to right and inclusive way to respond to this or handle this. That’s something that I accepted like be conscious of and a big part of that is just knowing it and that education that comes from it.
But another part of that is you get that education by having the room for making mistakes and having the patience and support of your environment to help you like learn from those mistakes, and that’s something that is like a whole can of worm to actually like dive into because that’s such a dramatic privilege construct and oh, that room for mistake is huge for white men, for instance, whereas the room for error for various other demographics of people is much smaller, so that again is an uneven playing field, but it’s something that I want to help create and facilitate and create an environment where there is room for error as long as people are willing to show that they are willing to listen to what might have gone wrong or what they might have done that was wrong or harmful or contributed negatively. Because in that way of learning that we also learn more about empathy, I feel.
Lea Alcantara: Ashe, what are your thoughts?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, this is a big topic and one that I work on a lot. So much of the work that can be done is on ourselves, like a lot of what we really think, being really introspective about the kinds of actions you’re taking, the way that you’re referring to someone. Did I make this decision because I noticed that this was a person of color? Did I intentionally avoid the situation because I didn’t know how to act? There are a lot of things about it. Just kind of self-examination, “Was I right in making that decision, and how can I make a better decision in the future? How can I better educate myself to do what is appropriate in this situation?” We spend a lot of time practicing how to become better
programmers and designers. We listen to podcasts. We read books. We work on hackathons. We don’t do those things when it comes to being a person, like being a good person, and it’s a really tough thing to ask people to do because it’s really uncomfortable. There are so much grey areas. There’s nothing that’s black and white. There are so much grey areas when it comes to dealing with other people and working with other people and understanding other people. So I highly recommend getting to know people who aren’t like you. Yeah, the really easy way, a really positive way to do this is follow a bunch of people that are different than you on Twitter. Listen to what they have to say, their perspectives, read what they’re writing, read what they’re sharing, and that can open up an entire new world view.
Just looking at what’s really been transpiring in the United States very visibly over the past year or year and a half about so many young black men being killed by police or armed civilians or armed white civilians. In that discussion, I don’t see much of the white programming community as a whole talking about these kinds of things, and part of me wonders if they have anybody in their Twitter timeline that they see that’s talking about those kinds of things, like are they even noticing that as news. So that speaks to not only us as individual workers in the industry, but also how we look at each other, current events that are important. So follow people, talk to people that are different than you. Get to know other people that are like you so you can start building that empathy. Another big thing is if someone asks, “How do we teach adults empathy,” that is extremely hard and it’s one like I’ve been trying to find studies on, I write books on. It is so hard, and one of the easier ways is to find somebody who’s close to someone.
So if somebody walks up to you at a conference and says something inappropriate, you’ve never met this person before. If you respond to this person, how would they likely to react? Really defensive, getting really upset, “You don’t know who I am. I am a nice person. I would never do something like that,” versus if it’s that person’s friend who takes them aside and says, “Look, I’m your friend and I care about you and what you just did back there was not appropriate,” they are far more likely to take that to heart because this is somebody who does know me. I don’t want to let this person down because they have this really what I feel is an appropriate view of who I am and they think that I did something wrong.
So speak up when you are friends, you are coworkers, the other people that are around you, your heroes, speak up when they do something that is inappropriate. Nobody should be exempt from being called out when they do something that is actively harmful to someone else. I see a lot of hero worship in that kind of thing, especially in the tech industry, and it’s really hard for a lot of people to balance, “This is something who I really respected all the work that they’ve done, but they also did this extremely heinous thing, and how do I balance that with the view of them that I have in my head,” and a lot of times we end up just kind of letting it go, which is feeding more into the power that they already have now they know that they can get away with it, and it’s a really dangerous thing. It becomes worse and worse situation, and unless we kind of head those things off of the path, it becomes a much more dramatically bad situation.
So talk to your friends, educate yourself, read books, meet people that aren’t like you, those are the biggest things in my view that each of us can do individually.
Emily Lewis: What about things we shouldn’t do? I’m thinking more specifically like at a corporate level, like when you’re coming in and consulting, what are some things you tell them they should avoid doing?
Ashe Dryden: Speaking for other people is a really big one. We don’t want to assume what somebody else needs. We always ask, what is the best way that we can change our marketing or the way that we’re reaching out to potential job candidates that is appropriate? How can we alter our benefits or our perks to make sure that you’re getting the same amount of value as somebody else in our company? What would be the best situation for you?
I think that there are a lot of situations where we see people speaking up on behalf of other people, which – I don’t know – it’s a really tough thing, like we want to make sure that all of these issues gets lots of light, but we have to be very careful not to speak for other people. So include more different kinds of people and decisions, do more research, have more discussions. Don’t assume that this is what people need. Know that you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to go down a road that’s not going to be anything other than unfortunately a waste of time, but you’ll learn something. Just like in programming, like we learn something doing it the wrong way and that we won’t do it again that way.
So know that it takes a drive and a commitment to do these things the right way, involving the right voices without putting all of the responsibility of something like diversity on the marginalized people within your organization. That’s something that I fight with a lot like, “Yes, we’re working on diversity. Here’s our one woman of color in our organization who is going to lead the way on this, and she has to do this on top of all of her other work, and we’re judging her based on whether or not this succeeds.” So it becomes a lot more pressure.
Emily Lewis: [Agrees]
Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]
Ashe Dryden: The work of diversity is on all of us, not just one individual, not just marginalized people, but every single one of us.
Emily Lewis: I’d like to take the conversation in a slightly different direction and talk a little bit about the conference experience because I think a lot of our listeners have some kind of experience with regard to that, and I think diversity is one of those topics that comes up a lot, and in fact, Ashe, what you were describing, putting the onus on the marginalized person to resolve the solution, occurs to me when it comes to a diverse lineup of speakers and hearing often from conference organizers, “Well, they didn’t submit. It was an open call and that wasn’t who submitted a talk.” Speaking for myself as a woman, my first public speaking experience was not my volunteering, it was people really encouraging me to do it and giving me an opportunity because I didn’t feel comfortable seeking it myself. I am certainly qualified, but I didn’t feel comfortable. So let’s talk about that, attracting a more diverse speaker lineup. Is there anything different about that versus attracting diversity in a company, or is it really the same thing?
Ashe Dryden: For me, it’s a lot of the same thing, so I work in a lot of conferences, and I tell conference organizers the same thing that I tell business owners, “We are doing this holistically. We’re looking at as many different aspects of why people might not feel that this is for them, that they would not feel comfortable, they wouldn’t be included, that their voice isn’t wanted.” Now, I’m trying to remove as many of those barriers up front as possible. So kind of part of my wanting to create this conference series that I’ve created, AlterConf, was to show conferences that on an extremely small budget, you can create spaces where all different kinds of people feel like they can participate, that they’re valued and that they’re needed. So providing things like child care, helping people get to the venue itself, making ticket prices affordable. We provide professional ESL interpreters and why captioning it at all of our events. So all of those things contribute to who feels like they can participate.
The language that you use in marketing, who you’re reaching out to. You mentioned that your first speaking opportunity or with somebody who invited you, and that’s a huge thing for marginalized people. Marginalized people are told so often that our voices aren’t necessary, that we don’t really have anything to add, and that kind of thing happens when people speak over us, people take credit for our work, people tell us that what we’re doing just isn’t as important as what somebody else is doing. It kind of creates a competition between us and other people, and especially when they’re creating competition between different marginalized people, it becomes extremely uncomfortable because in effect, it’s saying, “There are only so many spots for you. We’re going to ration to you this many and now compete amongst yourselves. Fight to the death for who is going to get it.” And that’s not what we want to do, like we know that we’re super under-represented. We know that when we get on stage, people are going to criticize us for the way that we talk or misspellings in slides.
Faruk Ateş: Or how you dressed.
Ashe Dryden: Or how you dressed or the way that you explains something technical and maybe you got it slightly wrong, people are super on top of all of those things. We’re not creating supportive environments for people to succeed. But when you’re looking at a conference environment like you are paying to attend conference so you can learn something, so it’s something that’s supposed to be good for your career. It’s good for what you can take back to your job. It’s good for networking, so why are we creating spaces that puts people at odds with each other, that makes people feel like they can’t educate other people, they can’t share what they know in what they’re doing. Looking at those kinds of things holistically, reaching out to people and asking them to speak, telling them that their voice is important and needs to be heard. I think PyCon is one of the most stand out conferences when it comes to this.
Jessica McKellar went and emailed every single woman that she could find on GitHub that have committed any Python in like the past two years. She emailed them individually. She said, “I will help you with the talks. I think that it will be really important for your voice to be heard. We will help you get here. We will do whatever we can to help you succeed.” It seriously paid off. They went from like 2% female speakers to 33% and that took time. That took a lot of her time. Imagine what her email inbox looked like, but it was important enough to her that she did it, and that’s what it’s going to take. There is no fast button that we push that everything is better. It’s not just, “We did this one thing and look everything is amazing.” It takes time and effort and work, and we have to be willing to put that in.
Emily Lewis: Faruk, what are your thoughts? I’m curious, I know I’ve met you briefly at a South By Southwest (SXSW) many years ago, so I know you attend conferences. As an attendee, what do you think we can do to help support that kind of environment Ashe was describing one where we’re not putting the speakers or even each other as attendees under a microscope, a critical experience, but really more supportive, educational one that’s inclusive and diverse?
Faruk Ateş: I come at it from attendee as well as speaker as well as organizer, and I think in all cases, it’s something that at any events, whether it’s my own or whether it’s someone else’s, I found that there are always going to be circumstances or situations where something happens that isn’t perfect, and a really big part of it is how you handle that, how you deal with whether it’s being called out for it or just having a kind of report sent to you about something, whether it’s public or private, whether it’s a really sort of like big serious thing that a lot of people are talking about or whether it’s like just as one person that is only we may be hinting of something not being great, like how your respond to that, and especially how you respond to something that is critical of you and of your event or anything that you’ve done in this, how you respond to that is a really big part of what sets the tone for the kind of culture you will then cultivate. The culture that you have is a byproduct of your actions. It’s not something you design and then that’s what it is. You can’t even say it like, “Oh, our culture is X, Y and Zed.” It’s like, “Well, we’ll see. We’ll see based on the environment you’ve set and the tone you’ve set at your events or workplace for that matter, what that culture is actually like.” That has a big difference, and it’s all about how you can like handle.
As attendee, I’ve always found that it’s like if I feel that organizers have put in like a really strong effort to make sure everyone feels welcome and they’ve made that clear, like these need to be explicit actions using something like code of conduct or if more than that, but like there need to be explicit actions and ideally many of them, and this includes small actions too. But these actions, do I feel that they’ve created an environment where I…? Yeah, okay. If I see something that I think is bad or like is harmful or I see someone who is like uncomfortable, do I feel like I can report this? Can I bring it up with the staff or with the organizers? And then conversely for me when I am an organizer for events, I try really hard to do all those explicit actions and make sure that myself and whoever is helping me with it or if I’m part of a team, like not organizing but contributing, like making sure that everyone who is sort of in charge of the event adopts that and holds that sort of approach to things of like, “Hey, please feel free to come up to us with anything.
Be approachable. Be very accessible as individuals. Like we have to be very approachable for our attendees. We are organizing this for them. We’re not doing it for ourselves.” And that’s something that like I can always whether or not that’s the case as an attendee and now as an organizer, I have a little bit more insight into that as well because I can see it’s like, “Oh, well, I think they meant with the thing they just did,” maybe like the host said something or the organizer did an opening speech or something and it’s like, “Okay, well, I think they meant that.” Like it can be something minor that I may even like reach out to them privately afterwards, but it’s all about the explicit actions and what they signal to others, and then how you deal with them when called out or when something happens.
Lea Alcantara: So I’m curious, Ashe mentioned PyCon. I’m sure there are other like companies and conferences that are doing good and behaving like great examples for supporting diversity and inclusivity. Ashe, could you tell us maybe a couple of companies and conferences you think are great examples of this?
Ashe Dryden: Sure, I’m more comfortable talking about conferences than I am companies because with companies, it’s very difficult to tell. As far as conferences go, I’ve been impressed with JSConf a really long time. They do a lot of work in trying to create a space where anybody feels like they can submit a talk, anybody feels like they can succeed, that they can attend. They do a lot of work around helping people get there and being successful on stage if tha’s what it’s going to be. I refer people to their call for proposal page all the time. It’s super well written and very thoughtful and mindful in the language that it uses and the things that it offers. So definitely look at JSConf and JSConf EU.
Lea Alcantara: I would say that Jenn Lukas who run Ladies In Tech, she basically got into talking about women speaking in conferences because of her initial experience at JSConf, I believe, and that she was like one of the only women there, and when she brought it up with the organizers, it’s great to hear that they’re stil like making strides and like they’ve improved since Jenn’s first experience.
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, they do a lot of really great work. I’ve been really impressed with them for years, and I really see them leading a lot of the movement for change for inclusion in the tech industry. So Strange Loop who, disclaimer, I have worked with on their diversity stuff, I am really impressed how much they’ve changed over the years offering diversity scholarships, helping people how to speak in that kind of thing. They’re really great for that. More recently, I attended an all-online conference called InclusiveDev Conf that’s run by the folks over at BlackStar (Media) Launch. It was super acceptable. The speaker lineup was great. It had a lot of really important content for developers, designers and entrepreneurs. So I’m looking forward to seeing more stuff, and then they have another conference at the beginning of May and it’s all online, so definitely check them.
Emily Lewis: Faruk, I wanted to ask you your perspective since you mentioned your thoughts about an attendee in a conference and someone who’s organizing a conference, but what can speakers do to advocate for more diversity? Have you seen anything first hand?
Faruk Ateş: Yeah. Well, actually, a big part of that is specific to the white and the male demographics who are essentially over-represented. Especially for white men, this is one of the things that I do myself and recommend other white male speakers to do as well. When opportunities when you are asked to be on a panel or speak at a conference, don’t just go and be like, “Yes, I will do that.” Like take into consideration what you as an individual are contributing to not just with your talk because that’s obviously going to be the main focus of all this effort, but what you bring to the table in terms of who you are.
It’s like, is there existing set of speakers that is a lineup? Are their works already public? Is that an entire lineup of other white men? In that case, maybe you should pass up the opportunity until either that changes or to specifically for someone who brings a different perspective as well. That’s something that like every individual speaker just always has to consider as well. But I think specifically that’s something I recommend for people like myself because yeah, I’ve been in that position where I’ve been asked to speak at conferences and I asked the organizers like, “Okay, well, what have you done in these areas? Like how many women have you reached out to? How many like people of color have you reached out to? Like what are your accessibility aspects, et cetera?” A lot of the times the issue isn’t that the organizers aren’t well meaning in this regards, it’s simply that they haven’t considered that yet.
Emily Lewis: [Agrees]
Lea Alcantara: [Agrees]
Faruk Ateş: Or they haven’t thought about it yet, and then I bring it up to them and they were like, “Oh, you know that actually is a good point. Yeah, we shouold probably spend a little bit more time thinking about that consciously as we seek out speakers.” And that’s just something that I do, and I’ve helped a number of the events ever since I started doing this. Virtually, well, almost every event that I’ve been and spoken at managed to increase their diversity sort of like ratios to much more sort of like acceptable levels to me before I sign on to actually do my talk with them at all because for me it’s also like I’m in the privilege of not having to depend on speaking opportunities as a livelihood to sustain my ability to pay rent, but then I think in general, like the speaking circuits for the people who get paid enough to do that professionally, that’s such an unusual segment of all the people give talks at events anyway.
Especially in tech, most of these are just like small, free events with you come in and talk about something you did or whatever it is, but most of like the evening meet-ups, they’re not paid talking opportunities either, but it’s still something where I’m like, “You know, if you just already have like three white guys there, maybe not add a fourth.” And those are things that speakers can do that actually help a lot like just think about this, especially for bigger conferences like there are aspects about compensations like their conference is something that generally is a paid event. It has a lot of money going about it. There are sponsorships and all of that. It’s like, “Well, what are you paying the speakers? Are you paying all your speakers equally?” It’s like that’s another thing where organizers, they don’t do it intentionally, but they can fall into the trap of like trying to basically keep out on a lot of stuff and create an imbalanced situation in that regards, and again, none of these things are intended to cause an imbalance, but the effect of these actions can contribute to that all the same. Intentions don’t change that, and for speakers, it’s something that’s like just raising these issues with the organizers when you’re talking with them and having these conversations with them contributes very positively in my experience.
Emily Lewis: I don’t do public speaking anymore, but when I was used to be asked, I had a list of things I would ask the organizers and just things to get a sense of the audience and things like that. Nothing other than that, but it occurs to me that if I were still considering public speaking, that I should add those points to the list, “What are you compensating? Is everyone being compensated equally? What’s your current ratio of…” I don’t know. I don’t even know how you phrase it, but “what is your speaker lineup look like right now” kind of thing. I think those are really good suggestions.
Faruk Ateş: This is definitely a tricky thing where sometimes it’s easy to phrase these things in a way that make people defensive and it’s hard to phrase them in a way that it puts them at ease and makes them feel like, “Oh, like we can work together on this, and this is a positive interaction.” And that comes back to my earlier point about ego. That’s always such a big difficult thing to work, especially like successful industry people, they have high egos a lot of the times and they’ve done successful things and so clearly they know what they’re doing. But that’s not always the case, and I would say like if we really go down to the psychology, most of us never know exactly what we’re doing and that’s totally fine, and this comes also back into the imposter syndrome that all of these are really big topics.
Lea Alcantara: No, I mean, this is such a big topic, but Ashe, I want to, before we wrap up, talk a little bit about the book you’re writing on diverse teams. Can you tell us a bit more about that and what your progress is?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, no problem. I actually writing on two books right now.
Lea Alcantara: Oh.
Ashe Dryden: Because one wasn’t enough work, ha ha. But yeah, I’m working on the first book that you mentioned is The Diverse Team, and that is a lot of the research that I’ve done, the work that I’ve done with companies to work on their internal culture, the policies that they have, the way that they bring in a new employee, the way that they’re doing marketing and outreach, and what they’re doing for the community itself. So it’s kind of how-to guide for “I want my company to be more diverse, but where the heck do I start.” So it takes through a lot of what we discussed today, what actually is diversity, why is this a problem, and how does my company intentionally or unintentionally contributes to it. So that I’m hoping to have out soon.
I have a lot of stuff all up in the air, so we’ll see. Then the other book I’m working on is about events, so you organize a conference or a meet-up or any other kind of events, how do you create an atmosphere that everybody feels they can participate in? How do you make it accessible to everybody cost-wise, actually traveling to the venue-wise, being able to participate as a speaker, as an attendee? How to make sure that the food isn’t going to unintentionally kill you?
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Right.
Ashe Dryden: All these kinds of aspects of what it means, to think about all the different aspects of people’s lives and experiences. So both of those I’m self-publishing on Leanpub to be able to get them on your Kindle or whatever you like relatively soon, and you can get the links to both of those from my website.
Lea Alcantara: Very cool.
Emily Lewis: So before we wrap up, Faruk, I wanted to get your final thoughts, what is your best advice for those in our industry to help make change for the better?
Faruk Ateş: Listen more, but then that advice is mostly I try to address men a lot more, especially white men a lot more than anyone else in part because, again, don’t speak on behalf of others that Ashe mentioned earlier, but also a really big thing is that a big part of what needs to change the most is the people in power listening a lot harder to these issues, and most people in power in this regard are very affluent white men, and I skip a whole series of privileges after that as well.
But the thing for me is that I know that my own biggest sort of shortcoming as well is like not always listening hard enough or well enough to what’s really going on, like understanding the subtexts of things and perhaps being like eager in trying to make changes or like help out, but not thinking hard enough or listening well enough to what that actually means what I should do for that in how I should actually turn that into something actionable. That’s something that I would really love to see more men listen to more of these issues as they get discussed, and what Ashe said earlier was also so fantastic as advice I’ve given on my Twitter many times, it’s like follow people who are very different, who talk about different things, who talk about these issues, especially if it makes you uncomfortable to be confronted with them. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable because that feeling will pass so quickly after you sort of like deal with it in the first five minutes and then you learn something new and then you have a better more empathetic perspective moving forward. But if you give up at the first or like after feeling uncomfortable a couple of times and you go like, “You know what, I’m not going to follow this person because they’ve just talked about these issues.” Introspection is missing there about even noticing that you’re doing this just to feel easier about yourself, and that’s something that I would like to see change.
Lea Alcantara: Excellent. So Ashe, you’ve given us a lot of great advice throughout this show, but if you can encompass… [Laughs] I know this is difficult, but if you can give us your best advice for those in our industry to help incite change for the better, what would it be?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, I think like the fundamental thing here is care about diversity, but know that caring about it isn’t enough, like you have to actually do something. You have to educate yourself. You have to speak to your friends. You have to ask your employer, “Hey, have you noticed that we have an extremely homogenous company, and I think that these are some of the reasons why.” Speak up when you see something that’s going down that’s wrong and don’t say, “You’re making so and so uncomfortable,” but, “You’re making me uncomfortable. What you’re doing is unacceptable to everyone, not just the person that’s directly affected by this.”
So caring about it is great, but you have to actually convert that to going out and doing something. Read, share what you read, help educate your friends and your co-workers who believe a lot of stereotypes and believe about a lot of things that are unfortunately patently false about what it means to be inclusive and what diversity actually is. Because we want to create a space where everybody can participate, everybody is valued for their participation and we all benefit from that. Whether or not we see that directly, we all benefit from that.
Lea Alcantara: Awesome. I mean, this was a giant topic to tackle, but I hope our listeners get a lot of good information and advice from this.
Emily Lewis: Yeah, just some stuff to think about.
Lea Alcantara: Yeah.
Emily Lewis: And maybe this is just the beginning that we revisit this topic in the future and talk about the different aspects of it. This is like the introductory course.
Lea Alcantara: Yeah. [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: And the world and the web is large, and there are a lot of us that participate in it and if we can make the environment better, why wouldn’t you?
Faruk Ateş: Because it takes effort and people are lazy.
Emily Lewis: Yeah. It’s hard.
Lea Alcantara: Yeah. [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: It’s true.
Emily Lewis: It’s absolutely true. [Laughs]
Faruk Ateş: We want to work on fun things, not things that are like actually important.
Emily Lewis: I don’t know, I think having a great conversation with someone or meeting someone new, those are the best parts of life.
Faruk Ateş: Yeah.
Emily Lewis: I mean, that’s the stuff I walk away from a conference with and I always learn something, but it’s more about the people I met, the connections I made. I mean, it comes to my mind the last conference I was at, not the last, the second to the last I was at, this was ConvergeSE where where Lea is heading next week, we both walked away and we just felt it was such a diverse group of attendees and speakers and we felt comfortable and we felt inspired and it opened us up to so much more, I think, than just the technical aspects of what we learned.
Faruk Ateş: Exactly, the conferences that I felt most memorable, whether I was speaking or just attending, were all the conferences that have most strongly made our entire industry feel like a close-knit community where everyone is welcome, even if that was not reflected outside of that conference at that time perhaps, I mean, in general in parts of our industry, it never is. But those events at least felt like, yeah, this is what technology as an industry can be like. There were a promise of a world that was exciting and fun and everyone got to participate in it, and when an event is like that, I think it’s just the most memorable.
Lea Alcantara: But before we finish up, we do have our Rapid Fire 10 Questions, so our listeners can get to know you a bit better. Since there’s a couple of you here today, we’re just going to start with one, and we chose Faruk. So Faruk, are you ready?
Faruk Ateş: Okay.
Lea Alcantara: All right, first question, Android or iOS?
Faruk Ateş: It’s iOS.
Lea Alcantara: If you are stranded on a desert island and can only bring three things, what would you bring?
Faruk Ateş: Oh my God, a really good book and some water and food.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs] Very practical. What’s your favorite TV show?
Faruk Ateş: I’m going to go with like sort of like my most favorite casual watching is Castle. I actually really enjoy it because they have a nicely diverse cast. It’s not like perfect or anything, but they have great character chemistry among them and it’s just always enjoyable. It’s a really nice sort of like relaxation. Sorry, it’s rapid fire.
Lea Alcantara: Very cool. [Laughs] And what’s your favorite dessert?
Faruk Ateş: Creme Burlee.
Lea Alcantara: Nice. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Faruk Ateş: Sci-Fi writer.
Lea Alcantara: What profession would you not like to try?
Faruk Ateş: Working in finance.
Lea Alcantara: What’s the latest article or blog post you’ve read?
Faruk Ateş: Let’s see, I think the latest was The Verge review of the Apple Watch, but I’m still actually reading it. It’s really long.
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs] Cool. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Faruk Ateş: The ability to instill empathy in others.
Emily Lewis: Oh. [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Oh. What music do you like to work to?
Faruk Ateş: I call it like electronic dance.
Lea Alcantara: Very cool. I think I know the answer to this one, but lastly, cats or dogs?
Faruk Ateş: Cats.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: All right, now, Ashe, it’s your turn. Are you ready?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah.
Emily Lewis: All right. Android or iOS?
Ashe Dryden: It’s iOS.
Emily Lewis: If you’re stranded on a desert island and can only bring three things, what would you bring?
Ashe Dryden: My two cats and my Kindle. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Oh very nice.
Emily Lewis: I would be screwed. I have to bring all three of my cats and then I would have nothing else to bring.
Ashe Dryden: But you would be happy. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: I would. What’s your favorite TV show?
Ashe Dryden: Right now, it’s probably either Adventure Time or I’d be watching the West Wing like the hundred times.
Emily Lewis: What’s your favorite dessert?
Ashe Dryden: Strawberry Shortcake.
Emily Lewis: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Ashe Dryden: A librarian.
Emily Lewis: What profession would you not like to try?
Ashe Dryden: Oh, so many.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: I feel like because I’ve been a programmer, I can say a programmer with authority. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]
Faruk Ateş: [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: What’s the latest article or blog post you’ve read?
Ashe Dryden: This morning I read an article about Ageism in Tech at Model View Culture.
Emily Lewis: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Ashe Dryden: Ability to freeze time.
Emily Lewis: What music do you like to work to?
Ashe Dryden: Oh, everything. I do not discriminate when it comes to music. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs] And cats or dogs?
Ashe Dryden: Cats absolutely.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Yehey! We’re all cat people.
Emily Lewis: It’s all cat people. [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Yeah. [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: Yehey!
Lea Alcantara: Yehey!
Faruk Ateş: How many cats do we own between the four of us? I have one.
Lea Alcantara: I have two.
Ashe Dryden: I have two.
Emily Lewis: So that’s two, two, one, eight.
Lea Alcantara: Nice.
Ashe Dryden: [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: It’s eight cats.
Lea Alcantara: Nice, nice.
Emily Lewis: Not rescued, but we found a lost cat this morning that we had to take to the shelter, and if no one has claimed it in two weeks, we’ll have a fourth cat. [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Oh my gosh.
Ashe Dryden: I had four cats at one point.
Faruk Ateş: Hurray!
Ashe Dryden: And it’s diminishing returns, the more cats you have. [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: Hey, I love them to death, but eventually like I know that I’m going to die and be eaten by cats, which is not the most aesthetic.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs] Awesome.
Faruk Ateş: Super power, ability to survive cats.
Ashe Dryden: [Laughs]
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: [Laughs]
Ashe Dryden: Ability to love all of the cats.
Emily Lewis: [Laughs]
Lea Alcantara: Awesome. So that’s all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us.
Faruk Ateş: Thank you for having us.
Ashe Dryden: Thank you.
Emily Lewis: In case our listeners want to follow up with you, where can they find you online, Faruk?
Faruk Ateş: twitter.com/kurafire.
Emily Lewis: And you Ashe, where can our listeners find you online?
Ashe Dryden: Yeah, I’m “Ashe Dryden” pretty much everywhere online. My first name is A-s-h-e Dryden.
Emily Lewis: Thanks again to both of you. This was a really good, and I think important conversation and I hope we have more in the future.
Lea Alcantara: Absolutely.
Ashe Dryden: Thanks.
Faruk Ateş: Me too. Thank you.
Lea Alcantara: We also want to thank our listeners for tuning in! If you want to know more about CTRL+CLICK, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ctrlclickcast or visit our website, ctrlclickcast.com. And if you liked this episode, please give us a review on Stitcher or iTunes or both!
Emily Lewis: Don’t forget to tune in to our next episode when Angie Herrera returns to the show to talk about when WordPress is the right fit. Be sure to check out our schedule on our site, ctrlclickcast.com/schedule for more upcoming topics.
Lea Alcantara: This is Lea Alcantara …
Emily Lewis: And Emily Lewis …
Lea Alcantara: Signing off for CTRL+CLICK CAST. See you next time!
Emily Lewis: Cheers!