Picturing ‘techies’: photo project captures the unseen diversity of Silicon Valley

Techies is one photographers mission to tell the stories of Silicon Valleys minorities, and to disrupt your notion of what a tech employee looks like

Prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen recently wrote that software coding is quite possibly the most inviting, all-inclusive profession ever and linked to a study reporting that many coders are self taught. What he didnt notification: the study also says the profession is 92.8% men.

Helena Price, a photographer and former startup employee, is on Monday launching the largest oral history of discrimination in Silicon Valley a series of 100 portraits of techies who fall into those forgotten categories.

In portraits and long interviews, she profiles the black coders, girls, and older techies who have been pushed to the fringes of the boom and some, such as Pinterests Tracy Chou and investors Om Malik and Tristan Walker who have induced it to the center.

I opted the title techie because its negative. Its kind of derogatory. I expect people to roll their eyes, Price said. I want people to see that word and then this grid of faces. I love that it fucks with your head.

Nancy Douyon, UX researcher, 18 years in tech: Im a User Experience Research Program Manager at Google where I currently result research on the end to objective experience for all new and critical launches. I also have my own mentorship program where I pair underrepresented individuals with personal networks in Tech. Photo: Helena Price

The narratives are both shocking and completely normal here. One woman describes having a child.

Apparently its impossible to have kids and continue to care about technology, said Lisa Dusseault, a lead technologist at Stubhub. When I was childless, I could be a geek almost like people said, Well, she must be basically a man in a womans body because look at how much she loves protocols, and architecture, and systems. But then when I got pregnant and I very clearly was not a human, I noticed that was just overwhelming to people.

Theres sexism and racism in every industry but in Silicon Valley we have the fewest excuses in terms of blaming history or institutional problems, Price said one recent day at her downtown San Francisco live/ work studio. All of this around us is new. So its like, you had the chance to set your values right away and you didnt. And yet there are still people who believe its a meritocracy here.

Tiffany Taylor, product designer, six years in tech: Im a self-taught decorator and coder. I never thought Id be able to take my geeky high school hobby of building websites and turn it into a career. As a woman of colouring, I have a unique view when it comes to designing experiences. That said, I have just been met one other black female designer in tech in the past six years. Photograph: Helena Price

Former Googler and now co-founder of a startup called Mixmax, Chanpory Rith, a lesbian Cambodian Mormon, said he would probably leave town for some place a little more diverse.

I used to think Id live in San Francisco for the rest of my life because its just so open, diverse, and you can live how you want to live. But when toast is$ 5, its kinda crazy, Rith said. I actually love the$ 5 toast, but when thats the norm, and there is not much difference, its obscene.

Rachel Miller, software engineer, four years in tech: Im a fag programmer with a big heart. I grew up in Virginia and studied real hard, ran my way through a little grad school in Boston, and finally procured my home in SF. Photograph: Helena Price

Originally from New Bern, North Carolina, Price does commercial photography for Uber, Airbnb, Facebook and Microsoft, where she sees the tech world up close. One of the most discriminated groups shes discovered are older women.

Guys dont want to hire someone who looks like their mom, Price said. If youre all 22 years old, having your mama around doesnt audio fun, right?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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