Why People Are Scared To Talk About Silicon Valley's Big Diversity Problem

The issue of diversity is being discussed more than ever in Silicon Valley.

Major tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo have come forward to reveal their diversity statistics — showing that most of these tech giants are compromised of white and Asian male employees.

The lack of women and minorities in tech isn’t a secret, and many advocates are very vocal about it via Twitter and self-made initiatives such as website About Feminism.

However, there are also dozens of minorities working in the tech industry that wouldn’t dream of speaking up about the topic of diversity.

There’s apparently an unwritten rule about voicing your concerns when it comes to how minorities are viewed and treated in the tech industry, according to engineers that recently spoke to Bloomberg.

Here’s the advice Lloyd Carney, CEO of Brocade Communications Systems, who is black, gives to newcomers in the tech industry:

“Tell women and people of colour directly, ‘Don’t you dare advocate for diversity. Your career would be over.'”

Kate Matsudaira, the founder of career management platform Pop Forms, who has previously worked at Amazon and Microsoft, said she would never complain about sexism in the tech industry on her personal blog.

Not because she doesn’t believe it’s an issue, but because there’s a certain stigma around those who frequently voice their opinions on the subject.

“I don’t want to be grouped into that category of activists,” she told Bloomberg. “This sounds so horrible, but there are certain people who say, ‘I didn’t get the job because I’m a woman,’ and I’ll look at their resume and know they didn’t get the job because they don’t have the experience. I never want to be in that group.”

Matsudaira isn’t the only one reluctant to speak out. Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of job search site The Muse, told Wired back in July that female entrepreneurs are worried about “being shamed” for speaking out.

That’s not to say all women and minority workers are content with silence. Ana Medina, a computer science student at the University of California who experienced some sexist treatment at her first trip to Google’s I/O conference, thinks people should be vocal about the topic.

“The advice leaves you to think you’re probably not the only one who experiences things like this,” she told Bloomberg. “The industry shouldn’t be like this. It’s just not OK.”

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