The Guardian helps us decode Silicon Valley jargon. A sampling:
diversity and inclusion (ph) – Initiatives designed to sugarcoat Silicon Valley’s systematic failure to hire, promote and retain African American and Latinx employees. The phrase is usually invoked when a company is expounding on its “values” in response to incontrovertible evidence of widespread racial or gender discrimination.
free speech (ph) A constitutionally protected right in the US that is primarily invoked by tech bros and internet trolls when they are asked to stop being assholes. Syn: hate speech. See ideological diversity.
ideological diversity (ph) – The rallying cry for opponents of diversity and inclusion programs. Advocates for ideological diversity argue that corporate efforts to increase the representation of historically marginalized groups – women, African Americans and Latinos, among others – should also be required to increase the representation of people who believe that women, African Americans and Latinos are inherently unsuited to work in tech.
meritocracy (n) A system that rewards those who most deserve it, as long as they went to the right school. The tech industry is a meritocracy in much
same way that America is a meritocracy. See diversity and inclusion.
That’s exactly how I translate those terms in my head.
John Morales says
Why distinguish between nouns and noun phrases?
Akira MacKenzie says
Ah, new entries to The Devil’s Dictionary! Ambrose Bierce would be proud.
Candidate Marianne Williamson (I also forgot she was one of the candidates) reminded everyone that she was the one who had declared the current vaccine policies “draconian”. When asked about health care, she started channeling Gwyneth Paltrow. “We need to talk about why so many Americans have unnecessary chronic illnesses” that she said wasn’t suffered to the same degree anywhere else in the world. Of course, she blamed the illnesses on America’s “chemical policies, environmental policies, and food policies.” Somebody should remind her that it didn’t work for Carly Fiorina’s Republican leadership debate, either, although the applause that Williamson received did make my heart sink.
Ed Peters says
“Advocates for ideological diversity argue that corporate efforts to increase the representation of historically marginalized groups – women, African Americans and Latinos, among others – should also be required to increase the representation of people who believe that women, African Americans and Latinos are inherently unsuited to work in tech.”
Ooh. Ooh. I can play this game too! I want more ideo-ideological diversity. This natural next step in the evolution of ideological diversity argues that corporate efforts to increase the representation of people who believe in ideological diversity – that merit-free claim that women, African Americans and Latinos, among others, are inherently unsuited to work in tech – should also be required to increase the representation of people who believe that those who believe in ideological diversity are inherently unsuited to work in tech, or any other field that doesn’t mainly involve pounding sand.
My apologies for perpetuating the “corporate efforts … should also be required” grammatical train wreck.
“meritocracy (n) A system that rewards those who most deserve it, as long as they went to the right school. The tech industry is a meritocracy in much same way that America is a meritocracy. See diversity and inclusion.”
Oddly, I’ve paved my entire career via meritocracy, via the original definition, earning and learning, despite not attending even a microsecond in college, only hanging about for the company at times or fixing Swathmore’s radio station equipment.
The rest, cannot find an objection at all.
I have been working in Silicon Valley for about twenty years, and it could be a lot worse. I don’t really think the rest of corporate America is any better. It is true that, e.g., if I was working for the petroleum or defense industries there wouldn’t be the same level of pretense at being a force for social good. I’d rather pretend a little.
The “tech bros” label describes a subset of tech workers. I agree they exist (all the more so after reading this awful book that seems to have been written by a sociopath https://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Monkeys-Obscene-Fortune-Failure-ebook/dp/B019MMUAAQ). Things have changed since I’ve been here and I can’t quite pin down what, but it feels a bit more cynical than when I started. (We’ve always been greedy, but the big dreams have somehow died.)
Representation of women in tech positions isn’t always as low as portrayed. Obviously, it could be a lot better. It varies by subsector, and I have worked with many women, particularly in biotech, but also in internet advertising. Some have been my managers or more senior engineers. Representation of Latinx and African Americans is indeed abysmal and no amount of sugar-coating can fix that.
I like it here a lot, though. It is certainly not “white” culture and I would guess has the highest South Asian representation of anywhere in the US. There is a subsegment of libertarians, mostly among white Americans, but this is overrepresented in the portrayal of SV culture. There are plenty of vanilla liberals like me as well (aligned very well with Rep. Anna Eshoo who is re-elected consistently). We support our public schools, complain about traffic, and do all the other crap normal people do everywhere else (except the financial cost of a “normal” life is so much higher). “Meritocracy” is of course a canard, but I don’t think it is worse here than anywhere else; we just pretend more.
ck, the Irate Lump says
The original definition? So, you were born into wealth and power and convinced yourself that you somehow earned it because you imagine yourself superior to all other humans? The term was coined specifically to torment these kinds of people. It was later stripped of its satirical origins by those same people to unironically mean that those on top are the best of humanity because they couldn’t have reached there if they weren’t. It, like “pull oneself up by the bootstraps”, now mean opposite of their original definitions.
Sorry… continuing a little on this. I think SV was more truly meritocratic during the first dot-com boom in the late 90s. I know, good-old-days, but when the web was fairly new, a lot of businesses were pretty desperate even for people who could throw together HTML, and many people had jobs at startups without college degrees, simply because they knew how to do the work that was needed. It wasn’t particularly “diverse”. American-born developers were far more likely than not to be white males. However, there was less emphasis on what college you had attended or whether you got a degree. It was a scrappier culture.
If you were one of those who wanted to found a company, of course, it helped a lot to be a Stanford dropout (or had cut your teeth at a big company like Sun or Silicon Graphics). From what little I know of VC, getting funding has a lot to do with schmoozing in the right circles. However, in terms of people getting hired to do stuff, it didn’t matter much.
Something happened, I would guess around 15 years ago, where people pursued degrees with the idea of working at big-tech companies (notably Google) and then it really did turn into a very exclusive form of “meritocracy.” That may also be the reason it doesn’t feel like the same place to me. This is not an anti-millennial rant by the way. I think my generation were a bigger bunch of assholes in the 80s than anyone is today.
@ck, the Irate Lump “So, you were born into wealth and power and convinced yourself that you somehow earned it because you imagine yourself superior to all other humans? The term was coined specifically to torment these kinds of people.”
If I ever want to disabuse myself of any notion that I’ve earned what I have, I just look back in my genealogy. It’s turtles all the way down, or anyway, middle class all the way down, including, e.g., lawyers going back a hundred years and property owners going back further, before arriving in the US. I suppose there are people who are the first in their family to get a college degree or whatever, but fortunately for me, I can safely say my “success” is middling and quite predictable. I am not sure why any of this is supposed to matter.