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Advocating for gender inclusion

In this video, our course contributors discuss how you might advocate for gender inclusion outside of the course.
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<v ->Many times I have faced resistance,</v> both in like startups in larger nonprofits, in the wider policy circles. When I was younger, I had less patience and less empathy for understanding why those reactions exist. I think over time, I’m beginning to understand more about these walls that organisational culture creates. And it’s often because, you know, people feel like this is the right way of doing things because this is the way things have been done so far. And there’s a bit of a backlash to like, you know things they’re seen as disruptive because disruptive device has been used as a way of explaining away anything that is new rather than if anything is useful.
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So I kind of understand those points and I completely empathise with anybody who’s stuck in a situation like that where you want to change things, but nobody else around you wants you to change things or appreciates like what you’re trying to bring in. And it can be really demoralising. <v ->I think it was about a couple of months into, you know</v> I’m working for my current company and I asked them about an idea of creating a course for
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for black men and black non-binary. And the response was I’m not sure people are going to receive that very well. But I really wanted to advocate to have people, particularly those with low socio economic backgrounds, to have access to learning this really valuable skill that is helping people get a job. And I was shut down. And I was really surprised by that because I, I said to myself, I thought, that’s what we’re about. I thought that we wanted to find ways to bring people of different walks of life and different gender identities into this organisation. And to have an idea like that shut down was really kind of a knock to my system.
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<v ->I think that there is much solidarity to be found</v> when approaching gender inclusive technology from an intersectional perspective. So I think that you might come up against resistance. However, if you approach the design of your devices in a way that also accounts for racial inequalities, the experiences of migrants, class-based disparities, you will find a lot of solidarity beyond gender specific needs. And this is quite important because, ultimately, significant changes to the design of technology will come from a big restructuring of the way that technology is designed. And this is both within industry, but also in creating alternatives, in creating your own technology.
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And for both of these things, you can really, really benefit from having the support of other individuals advocating for, what essentially is, social justice within technology. <v ->So my advice would be is to like, you know</v> surround yourself if it not in your job, then in your you know, like in your other parts of your life with people who get it, whether it’s my volunteering for an organisation that, you know, gets that whether it is promoting, like, you know these kind of courses in your organisation as a slow way of trying to get things to change.
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And really, I think one of the biggest things that have come out from this sort of like, you know, open data and open source and sort of, you know, service design approaches that I think have been really successful recently have been the pilot approach. So if you can convince people in your organisation to do a small pilot in which you can do things the way you want to and be more inclusive and like, you know, use all of these, like, you know, principles of design like intersectionality and like user research. And you’re able to demonstrate the power of that in a small contained, achievable, but ambitious pilot.
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Then it’s so much easier to roll that out to different departments, to different projects. And then, overall, the organisation. Everybody loves a success story. And once you’re able to show the success story then they want to know how they can replicate that success. And that’s where the process comes in, to sell them on the process, you need the results. So the pilot approach can be like, it’s just a really really effective way of doing that. <v ->I will say that when advocating for gender inclusion</v> you will receive backlash. You will receive people that won’t agree with your thoughts, but even in those situations, keep pushing anyway.
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Even if one person hears your message, that’s one person and you have no idea where they’re going to take that message. You have no idea who they know and they’re going to share that message with. So keep pushing, keep pushing for change. And also don’t think that there’s one way of doing advocacy. You can advocate for gender inclusion in so many different ways. Be creative. You know, you don’t have to take it as a job. For example, you don’t have to look for a job in D & I. You can create your own platform. You can create content creation. You can send your own newsletter. You can start a YouTube channel. You can post a Tik Tok video.
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You can do so much for advocacy that will actually make a difference. And people will hear it. So continue to keep pushing and continue to keep doing the work And we’ll make a difference for many generations to come.

In this video, our course contributors discuss how they have advocated for gender-inclusive technologies in their own lives and give you some tips for how you might apply your learning outside of the course.

Advocating for gender-inclusive approaches to technology can be difficult at times. We might come up against resistance within our organisations or in trying to find funding for self-initiated projects. As we’ve discussed, cultures of misogyny are prevalent within the tech industry and some people still see the need to create gender-inclusive technologies as a niche or unnecessary endeavour. So now we’d like through a run scenario to see how you might apply what you’ve learnt.

Scenario

You are a part of a development team at a tech startup that creates Virtual Assistants. Your team have discussed the idea of developing an assistant which is purposed towards trans and non-binary people, focused on providing them with information on trans specific healthcare needs. You approach management with the idea to secure a budget and they state the idea is too niche and only serves a small group of people.

How might you take what you’ve learnt so far to advocate for the importance of such a technology? Share your thoughts with other learners below

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Gender-Inclusive Approaches in Technology

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