[UPDATED] 9/25/18 10:30am CST:
It was with best intentions that we hosted events like Startup School Femtech to foster the formation and prosperity of female-led technology companies in Minnesota.
Or published original research reports like The Ultimate Guide To Women In Technology to help women interested in Minnesota tech find communities of the like-minded to further their professional goals.
…and created a dedicated “Women” column that was specifically for the recognition + promotion women within the Minnesota tech community.
However, it’s come to our attention that this is a classic example of treating some Minnesota techies different from one another based on their physical appearance. As such, we have ceased these initiatives because it’s not what most of our audience actually wants and is equally inconsistent with our editorial ethos:
Minnesota techies are not treated differently from one another based on their physical appearance.
[Updated] 9/19/18 8:00 CST:
Yesterday a poll was administered to ask a timely and important question:
Should Minnesota techies be treated differently based on their appearance?
As the votes streamed in, it became clear what our audience thinks — an overwhelming “No” by 4:1 margin. You can scroll to the bottom to see it.
With so many votes skewing strongly one way and ample sample size (100+) the poll is now closed and concluded. Though comments will remain open for any civil conversation, as this poll (and update) may be interpreted differently by some. It’s worth sharing and discussing any of those differences instead of withholding them. That’s fundamentally how we learn, evolve and grow as humans.
I personally couldn’t agree more with how the majority of our audience voted. It’s reinforcing to know there is high alignment with the same values shared at TECHdotMN.
There was, however, those who voted “Yes” or “Maybe so”, and perhaps that’s worth exploring more, not jumping to judge or demonizing. Because it leaves people wondering: who and why would they think this way?
You’ll notice few voters who actually considered the depth of this question were willing to speak honestly and respectfully in the comments. TECHdotMN always supports that type of interaction here.
The purpose of the poll was not to be provocative, be rhetorical, or to ‘drive traffic’.
It was to stimulate some constructive thought, hear your feedback, and address situations in Minnesota tech where people are actively being treated differently based on their physical appearance. This isn’t some anecdotal hypothetical stuff, the following are real examples:
- Some investors will only fund entrepreneurs who look a certain way, and thus and deliberately not fund others based on what they look like.
- Some event organizers will invite (or explicitly not invite) certain people to participate in events based on their physical appearances.
Instead of focusing in on the similarities among us – what technology we are passionate about, how we make/do/create, what dreams are made of – in these situations, professional and business decisions are being based primarily, if not entirely, on the physical appearance of Minnesota techies.
They segregate themselves from those who don’t look like them and exclude all of Minnesota techies from participating by design based just on what they see outside. This open bias puts one over another in highly competitive environments such as hiring, speaking, or pitching. This perpetuates a divisive “us” vs. “them” way of thinking and being.
Isn’t this exactly what should be eliminated from Minnesota tech? Segregation, bias, judgement, preferential treatment, and exclusion — based just on our appearance?
Basing decisions and passing judgement of people on the shallow perception of our external appearance — as if that somehow correlates to qualification, competency, skill, or knowledge. You may personally be a part of these situations above, and therefore you are acting it out in a way that would indicate “Yes” is your answer to the question we’ve posted, considering you are inherently treating people differently based on their appearance.
Or, like one of our commenters you may have replied “No”, as you don’t believe it should be that way, but yet you contradict yourself in reality. Why?
Would you answer the question any differently now if you could based on a different way of interpretation?
Again, if anyone wants to explain why they voted the way they did, the floor is yours to be respectful and honest as the intention here is.
Treating someone in Minnesota tech differently from another person so openly based on what they look like will naturally have side effects of equal/opposite reaction on the other parties who do not appear to be the same on the outside. Instead of uniting Minnesota techies, these situations are, by nature, further dividing them.
Instead of promoting technology advancements in the spirit of “best idea wins” something else is taking priority.
Rather than living equality day in and out, these situations are undermining it. To preach inclusion while at the same time consciously exclude some people based on what they look like is hypocritical to the core and blatantly discriminatory. This is the unspoken trade-off of such well meaning activities, and perhaps becoming unintended consequence worth reconsidering within the community.
At scale, these instances exploit and manipulate people — whether deliberate or not. They appeal to the fears, insecurities, and prompt prejudice by promoting physical appearance as a thing. They play on human emotion for their own profit and power, fueling separation, angst, and hate. And over time, they have deep subconscious, adverse side effects that don’t ultimately serve humanity. Look no further the state of mainstream media today.
In the tech community, near and far, treating people differently based on their appearance is condemned because it can hurt so many people in so many ways. No-one would dispute that adverse side effect of such behavior.
Why is it still so accepted in Minnesota tech?
Look around and you will find real-time examples of Minnesota techies being treated differently based on their physical appearance happening right now in the community. In these environments, they are reducing people down to their most uncommon denominator and something that we all as humans have no influence over – what we are born looking like.
The situations outline above are not consistent with the way I aspire to pursue TECHdotMN and coexist with the Minnesota community we support long and hard. Based on the votes of our audience, it’s clearly against the grain the majority of our readers to treat people that way too. Time to change it up!
A more constructive focus in the community would be all of that which comes from within, what makes us all uniquely different, beautiful, and totally human at the same time.
Why should it matter what anyone looks like relative to WHO they are and WHAT they are about as a person?
YOU are so much more than what you look like and when was the last time anyone in Minnesota tech told you this universal truth? Being in this industry in any capacity is hard enough as it is, why should we allow ourselves to be held back or burdened by such simple factors we cannot, should not, care to alter.
To invest time and energy concerned with that which cannot be changed is a terrible waste of the resources we all cherish like our time, energy, and attention. The way we allow ourselves to be labeled, categorized, and to be judged on something so far beyond control is a great human tragedy of our era (this extends well beyond Minnesota and the technology industry).
And we’re all in this together by default, though some are more actively addressing these situations with positive change that unites people in ways which transcend their appearance. Three are plenty of great examples happening right now as well, of people who don’t treat others differently based on their appearance. Those are to be lauded and emphasized because fully inclusive events do not recognize physical appearance.
But it is the right of an individual, group, or business to act one way or the other even though many may disagree. Again, talking openly about this important subject may be harder than holding it back, but is the best thing in the long run for all of Minnesota’s techies. Talking is a path to learning, understanding, and respecting.
Our forthcoming Minnesota Tech Diversity & Inclusion Study will unearth some overdue objective research on this topic, though that is centered around the hiring practices and internal procedures of Minnesota’s 1,000+ private tech companies; it does not address the more peripheral and subversive examples outlined above.
There was never and will never be a good time to judge or treat anyone in Minnesota tech (or beyond) any differently than you otherwise would based on their physical appearance, full stop. Minnesota tech will be a better place when both 100% of our readers answer “No” AND 100% of the community’s actions are fully aligned with that sentiment.
That is the ultimate ideal, is it not? To reach a place which transcends concerns about what each other looks like and instead elevates the human spirit in us all?
A better future for all of Minnesota techies is one which doesn’t treat any people differently based on their physical appearance. There is so much more worth focusing on and knowing about them. Start with what’s going on inside, such as their character.
A better path forward is coming at TECHdotMN and initial steps are happening now to creating a better Minnesota Tech media company that removes the risk of such subjectivity and bias around the topic. All media is in great position to be the change not by treating anyone differently based on appearance but on treating them equally.
All we can do is be clear about where we stand and why we stand! This is now an editorial ethos we are proud to articulate and act out:
Minnesota techies are not treated differently from one another based on their physical appearance.
If you are ever feeling personally discriminated against by anyone in the Minnesota’s tech community based on your physical appearance please leave a public comment anytime or reach out directly/anonymously.
[Original] In our Meta poll for September, we’re asking the audience: Should Minnesota Techies Be Treated Differently Based On Their Appearance?
By “Minnesota Techies” we include anyone and everyone who is employed within the technology industry in Minnesota or who has started/operating a technology company here.
What do you think?
Should Minnesota Techies Be Treated Differently Based On Their Appearance?
- No (83%, 88 Votes)
- Yes (9%, 10 Votes)
- Maybe so? (8%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 106