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Diversity Luncheon: Bias, Diversity, Backlash, Manifestos, and Rebuttals


Have you ever been in a meeting where a colleague says “I’m a great supporter of gender equality, but I’m totally opposed to quotas!” Or, “I believe in diversity, but I won’t stand for positive discrimination.” Maybe you felt a bit troubled by such statements, thinking: that sounds fair, but somehow I don’t think it is… how do I rebut this? We all know that bias is omnipresent in our society, and some of us are keenly aware of rampant bias in sectors like technology, engineering and politics. Efforts to thwart the effects of bias in communities and institutions prompt a spectrum of diversity initiatives. Many times these lead to backlash. It’s been just a year since the memo "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber” spread through the company’s internal channels, before becoming public. Yet, another wrangle already is blasting online with the recent article "Why Women Don’t Code,” by a university lecturer. What do we do when privileged individuals continue to turn a blind eye on the injustices around them? They insist on points like “women are less likely to choose computer science,” and that’s just due to natural differences. Community and institution leaders have much of the power to catalyze change, but in the meantime, I want us to build, share and refine a portfolio of rebuttals for the recurring themes of the anti-diversity manifestos. Let’s get started.Presenter(s): Speaker: Lorena Barba, George Washington University


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