Shonda Rhimes is Titan
SR is a self-described Titan of network television.
She is the creator, head writer & exec producer of
Creator, head writer and executive producer
Creator, head writer and executive producer
She is the Creator and executive producer of
Creator and executive producer
Creator and executive producer
She owns a production company called Shondaland.
Since 2014 ABC has dedicated Thursday nights entirely to Shondaland programming. TGIT. Thursdays most important night of TV. Advertisers make their biggest ad buys networks air their highest rated shows.
Net Worth of over 60 million
Golden Globe winner for Best TV Drama
One of TIME magazine's 100 People Who Help Shape the World
Founded the Rhimes Family Foundation
Her reign of an entire night of network TV is "unmatched in TV history"
Here are some quick facts about Shonda. The AP said.
What has helped Shonda be so successful?
In addition to writing addictive nighttime soaps, Shonda's shows are incredibly diverse and appeal to the widest audience possible. Almost everyone will see a person from their demographic reflected as a character in her shows.
I really hate the word 'diversity.'
Ironically SR doesn't like the word Diversity.
I have a different word:
normalizing. I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary.
If you've been paying attention to the diversity numbers released by tech companies = lack of diversity in the tech industry.
This may look familiar
Maybe you've seen pages on company websites that look like this.
Why should we care?
Why is this an issue we should be concerned about?
We make products for everyone
We make products that are used people all over the world.
When there is a disparity between builders and users, problems arise.
The US Population
What is normal? I will show you. These 20 smilies represent the demographics of US adults.
First up breakdown by gender.
Race and Ethnicity
2010 Census 63.7% White. Since then the US has gotten more diverse.
In 2012 it became an even 50/50 split between white/non-white kids under 5.
Predict by 2043 whites minority.
0.9% Native American/Alaskan/Hawaiian & PI
About % Indigenous people are PI
Let's look at the age breakdown of the adult population.
A conservative estimate
This is what normal looks like
Or, translated into Shondaland.
Shonda has a character from every demographic, except native American, so I added Scott.
Shondaland edition + Scott
This is just US adults, our products are used Worldwide. Our users get more diverse every day.
Diversity is good for business
In addition to the benefit of diverse teams understanding end users. Research proves diversity makes companies more productive and profitable overall.
When selecting a problem-solving team...a team of randomly selected agents outperforms a team comprised of the best-performing agents.
Lu Hong and Scott E. Page
"Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers."
Michigan Business School and Complex Systems, University of Michigan; and Department of Finance, Loyola University, September 2004
U of Michigan Researchers had groups solve problems. Found randomly chosen groups of ppl w/ varying abilities consistently out performed groups made only of best-performing individuals
Diversity beats ability when it came to solving problems
We’ve found that when at least one member of a team has traits in common with the end user, the entire team better understands that user.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, Laura Sherbin
"How Diversity Can Drive Innovation"
Harvard Business Review, December 2013
Harvard Business Review National survey of 1,800 professionals.
Companies with diverse leadership = better understood the end user and 70% likelier to report they captured a new market.
Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton and Sara Prince
McKinsey Quarterly, February 2015
Study of 366 International companies
Found as correlation between diversity composition of top management and boards and higher than average profits in their industry.
It's the right thing
Not just about making better products and profits.
Homogeneity and exclusion is not good.
We want a wide variety of folks participating in tech.
How does this happen?
Why aren't tech companies more diverse?
I call it.
The most qualified candidate gets the job.
Some qualified people never make it to the first round because of unconscious bias.
Benefit of the doubt = bias is unconscious. Conscious bias, too. Most folks want to be inclusive rather than discriminatory.
I'm going to share the stories of some friends and experience of going through the job seeking process.
Mad Sysadmin skills
Fun to work with
Telling the story of job searching in the past.
After applying to positions I felt I was qualified for and receiving no responses, I reapplied a couple weeks later as 'Carl' instead of 'Carlos'.
Almost all of them called back asking for 'Carl.'
Downside = we call him Carl. Carl has a backstory.
What's in a name?
What difference does a name make.
Racial Bias in Hiring
November 2002 study by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
Professors from the U of Chicago sent fictitious resumes to 1,300 help-wanted ads Boston Globe & Chicago Tribune. Success of each resume = Callbacks for interviews.
The resumes were identical except for the names white / aa.
Applicants with "white-sounding" names were 50 percent more likely to get called for an interview.
They then raised the overall quality of the resumes, making the fictitious candidates more qualified.
The most surprising and disheartening result is seeing that applicants with African-American names were not rewarded for having better resumes.
"Racial Bias in Hiring."
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, November 2002
White applicants' higher-quality resumes = 30% more callbacks. Identical resumes for African-American applicants resulted in 9% more callbacks.
In 2013 a viral Tumblr post of a man describing his 4 months job hunting experience where all his applications rejected. He couldn't figure it out, then one day it dawned on him.
I made one change that day. I put Mr in front of my name on my CV. ...I got an interview for the very next job I applied for. And the one after that.
"How I Discovered Gender Discrimination."
Tumblr, July 2013
Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students
Randomized double-blind study, 127 US STEM professors asked to evaluate resumes. Resumes were identical, except half "John" and half "Jennifer".
Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hire-able than the (identical) female applicant.
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J. Graham, and Jo Handelsman
"Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students."
Yale University, November 2012
Scientists less willing to mentor or to hire Jennifer. Jennifer offered, on average, $4,000 per year (13%) less than John.
White House LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Fellow
PHP and Node.js programmer
Public Speaker and Teacher
A few years ago, when exploring job options
experience during a particular job interview process.
The phone and in-person interviews went incredibly well. A few days later, they called saying I was qualified and felt confident I had the ability to perform whatever was required of me, but they felt that I wasn’t a good 'culture fit.'
I'm incredibly easy-going, so I was mystified by what that meant until I took a second look at the company’s website. If I joined them as a developer, I'd be the only woman there outside of administration, and the only Black person.
Why is hiring for Culture Fit an issue when it comes to diversity?
What do you want your company culture to be?
Party with your friends?
Environment that ultimately benefits your team and customers.
We are attracted to people like us
Your clients don't give a sh*t about your Beer Pong Fridays and foosball tables.
What do we do?
What can we do about this problem?
Listen to stories and evidence.
Now you know unconscious bias = real, researched and proven, think hard why turning down an applicant. Strive for a true Meritocracy.
Or you can ask yourself...
Shonda Rhimes...pointedly avoided specifying her characters’ ethnicities, going so far as to leave off last names to help ensure the casting process would be a truly open one.
Nina Shen Rastogi
"The tricky business of writing casting notices."
Slate.com, July 2012
This: Shonda uses an open casting process and you should to.
Then read quote.
Examine your job listings
You can help do this by writing inclusive job listings.
Highly masculine wording used in job postings reduces women’s appeal of the job because it signals that women do not fit or belong in that job.
"You Don’t Know It, But Women See Gender Bias in Your Job Postings"
ERE Media, March 2013
A scientific study of 4,000 job descriptions - lack of gender-inclusive wording = hard to recruit women in positions underrepresented by women.
Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality
March 2011 study University of Waterloo Department of Psychology
96 random job seekers read job descriptions. With masculine/feminine-themed words. Listings with female-friendly words appealed to women - even for male dominated jobs.
Words not to use
Erin Kissane "Job Listings That Don't Alienate"
A survey taken by people from communities underrepresented in their fields about language in job descriptions that made them back away. Red Flags.
"Masculine" themed words
Best of the Best
"Feminine" themed words
Want to use "Ambitious", Balance of words = good.
Diversity ≠ Low Quality
Homogeneity = Less Quality
Diversity is not a lowering of quality, in fact it is the opposite
The term = me bananas. Implies hiring a less qualified person for the sake of diversity.
A push for more diversity in an increase in quality.
Realize diversity is an asset
Truth = Diversity brings value - Better problem solvers, understanding end-users & financial gain. This is an overall greater benefit than just a set of skills. To quote my friend Marc, a fellow queer web agency owner...
Founder and president of The Tactile Group, LLC.
When we have to choose among equally qualified candidates, we choose the candidate that will best maintain our culture of diversity.
Right now, we could use the perspective of some cisgender straight white men.
Choice between 2 equally qualified candidates, person who brings more diversity brings more value.
Expand your network
Make new friends. Get out of your bubble. Find the diversity in tech networking groups
In Philly we have multiple diverse tech groups.
Attend and sponsor their events.
Go to their job fairs. Find new places to list your job announcements.
VP of Product at Liquid Web
Pro-actively surround yourself with people who are unlike you.
Choose it. Go out of your way to embrace the difference and learn from it.
Be part of the solution
Proactively help make this situation better.
Support organizations working to fix the problem
Find the groups actively working to increase diversity in tech.
Philly groups - teaching. Find groups in your area and support them. Raise money, promote their events, find volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.
TA and find new talent
Use the power of your words to change the narrative
If you're a speaker you have an opportunity to make change.
89 WordCamps held in 34 different countries
Over 21,00 attendees
Numerous other non-official WordPress events
We organize conferences and speak to 10s of thousands. Do one simple thing that makes a big difference.
Avoid default pronouns
Programmer ≠ He
Countless talks hypothetical programmers & hires = he, him, guys
When referring to hypothetical people, use gender neutral pronouns or switch back and forth equally
Simple to do, will improve your talk and help change this default association.
2 professionals I admire who use this practice when they talk.
Founder and CTO of WP Engine
The words we select directly influence our subconscious world-view, and decision-making.
It's our job as orators and leaders to use that influence for good.
Director and Designer at lbdesign
Intermixing 'she', 'he' and 'they' in your talks deepens your connection with your audience.
Using a mix of these words encourages people to listen – because you're speaking to their experience, as they are.
Let's fix this!
WordPress community is welcoming we have the opportunity to be leaders in increasing diversity.
We hire and mentor people, organize conferences and speak.
Let's fix this problem. Try channeling your inner Shonda
If people aren’t being included, then I’m going to find a way to make sure they’re included. I’m going to find a way to make sure they have opportunities.
Co-owner, Co-founder YIKES, Inc.
@LilJimmi • yikesinc.com
Thank you. My name is Tracy Levesque and I co-own YIKES, Inc. a web design and development agency in the awesome city of Philadelphia, PA.