September 20, 2010

Bulk view

What can I do to help make the world more equitable?

I want to make it easier for people to do and be their best wherever and whoever they are. This involves stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging assumptions, but it’s a good use of a life.

What can I do?

I can share more. When it comes to exploring assumptions and inequities, I think it’s better to err on the side of oversharing than undersharing. I’ve seen this a number of times on my blog. I’ve written about things I was thinking through, things I thought were straightforward, or things that were difficult, and people have told me that they appreciated reading about something they were going through themselves. If I hadn’t written in public about keeping my name, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the consequences of that decision. But even though that was stressful, it was a good way to clarify what I believed, and connect with other people who’ve considered or will consider similar issues.

So I will share more, particularly if the discomfort I feel points me to something that is conventionally devalued or hidden.

I can question more assumptions and avoid opting out. Sometimes we disqualify ourselves, taking the easier path because we don’t believe something will be possible or easy. If we don’t opt out, we can bring out the real “no”s – or find out that our assumptions don’t match up with a more equitable reality.

I can mentor. It was wonderful to have all sorts of role models when I was starting out in computing. I was inspired by people who didn’t make excuses for themselves: gender, education, age, occupation, geography, disability… I’m glad I can pay them back by mentoring other people, and I enjoy helping people learn. I learn a lot in the process, too.

I can learn more about the issues, and I can help work on those issues. There are plenty of things that need to be addressed, and it can feel pretty overwhelming. Maybe I can pick one or two areas I can develop depth in (gender equity? work-life? globalization?), and learn a lot about those.

I’m here for only a short time. I might as well make the world a little bit better, so that the next batch of people can build on that.