Working to Build an Inclusive Tech Community with Ally Skills Workshop

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By: Alison Stanton, Chief Problem Solver, Stanton Ventures

As a programmer and a woman in tech, I am aware of a great need for allies and more managers to be leaders. The past few years I’ve learned how lucky I’ve been to have tech mentors and mostly positive tech experiences throughout my life. The majority of underrepresented people haven’t (and won’t) have that experience unless men start joining us in the struggle for inclusion.

I discovered the Ally Skills Workshop through Twitter. An amazing non-profit organization, the Ada Initiative, organized trial runs of and open-sourced the curriculum for the Ally Skills Workshop before they disbanded. I wanted desperately to do this workshop in Chicago. Enova has some amazing allies on staff, so it was a no brainer to hold the first Chicago workshop at Enova.

The workshop itself has about a twenty-minute introduction of information and then spends the rest of the time going through scenarios that happen in the workplace. The scenarios are sexist or unwelcoming incidents that happen in workplaces within a technology and software development context. We then go through how to respond to them in a more inclusive manner, also discussing responses that wouldn’t be as inclusive and why that is. By making attendees think through the actual scenarios and how to – and how not to – respond to them, they leave better equipped to deal with situations when they happen.

The biggest take-away for me is that a lot of men in technology do care very deeply about diversity and inclusion. The issue is really that they don’t know how to do it. It’s a mystery to them. So as long as there is demand, I’ll keep teaching Ally Skills Workshops. Sign-up for a workshop in June if you’re interested in learning how to support women in technology along with me.