I’m white. As such I don’t wish to comment on Intel’s plans to invest $300 million to open up racial diversity in the tech industry, but as a woman and a member of that very industry I feel I have some expertise to talk on the gender issue.
While the cynic in me feels it is no more than a PR coup, using ambiguously pleasing terms like aiding “full representation” of minorities in the industry, messages everyone can get behind to garner support; a small part of this could include the good intentions of people at the company so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, to me there are two glaring problems with this in terms of supporting women.
We live in a world where the media supports scandal over stories. As such, when indie developer Zoe Quinn used her friends in the gaming media to boost support for her game, it was the word on everyone’s lips. Same goes for when Dina, a woman who was hired to be community manager for Mighty No.9 ,the spiritual successor to Megaman – despite her not liking the game, and possibly because of her relationships to people already working on the project. These women exploited relationships in order to gain their positions in the tech industry, and while they are the minority, somehow we are all talking about them and not the many amazing figures in gaming such as Kim Swift or Robin Hunicke.
At a time when the industry is concerned with meritocracy, positive discrimination does not seem the way forward. Employing women in a male dominated environment is a great thing. They bring in a whole new perspective and can gain interest for a whole new audience. But if you begin employing women merely because of their gender, to fill a quota despite their lack of skills, you run into the problem of reinforcing ideas that women don’t have a place in the industry, or that they earned it through ill gotten means.
Unfortunately, this is not my main problem with this project. When outlining how the $300million would be spent, Intel suggested they would make donations to projects which help aid women and racial minorities. However, amongst the projects named were IGDA and Feminist Frequency. IGDA, who supported the blacklisting of people from Twitter feeds such as Dabitch female working for Adland, and of course myself, and Feminist Frequency who supports boycotts on games such as indie game SeedScape and its female developer, and AAA titles such as GTAV and all the women who worked on that project.
If you want to help women in the industry, you need to want to help all women in the industry. It shouldn’t matter whether you agree with their ideologies or their games or not. If you want to help women in tech you need to support their projects even if you find them morally objectionable. That is what will truly help diversity. Encourage everything, and let the people decide from themselves whose ideas make it in this competitive industry.