- Who doesn't like beer?
- Monty Python is funny.
- Everyone has done Object Oriented programming.
- We all went to college.
- Each of us can grow a beard.
- Video games are awesome.
- Everyone can see and hear.
- We all grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Each of these shared references draws together most of the developer audience and promotes a feeling of belonging. And each of them further isolates people who don't fit these assumptions.
I've been guilty of this. Writing presentations or posts, I look for domains familiar to my audience, and choose role playing. This emphasizes the programmer == geek stereotype, and the people who don't know what it means to "level up" feel stupid and out of place.
When a reference appeals to the majority then people who don't get it feel isolated. No one asks, "What does that mean?" when 80% of the audience reacts with knowing laughter.
Let's build community on what every one of us shares.
- We want to learn from each other.
- Each of us wants to help build better software.
If you don't want to learn or build good software then don't read this blog. From now on, I aim to make only these assumptions about the people on my team, in my user groups, and at each conference.
Dick jokes? Funny, yes. Offensive, no. It isn't about offensive/not offensive anymore. It's about welcoming/isolating. When a particular joke applies to 80% of the audience differently than to the other 20%, that joke is isolating. That builds homogeneity. I want everyone to feel welcome, I want diverse ideas and contributions. I'm aiming for inclusion.
These are my action items:
- Consider my target audience as the attendee mix I hope to see someday. Men and women and transgendered, Asian and African and European, 20s and 40s and 60s. People who like sports, and cooking, and quilting.
- Give context to my references. The next time I mention the Prime Directive of Programming, I'll talk about how Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation follows the Prime Directive of "do no harm."
- Have hallway and table conversations about a diverse range of topics, that any random person might be able to jump in on. I'll keep the stuff that freaks some people out for parties and private.