Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Personal is Political

When we lived in Houston, one of the interim ministers before Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle was Rev. Shirley Ranck, who nearly 40 years ago developed the Cakes for the Queen of Heaven adult religious education for the Unitarian Universalist Association. The curriculum explores the divine feminine in history, and also women's issues in society.

I believe that is where I first learned about the Consciousness Raising groups that developed in the 1960s. What I was told was that as the women started to talk about their lives, they began to see common themes, things that many or all women experienced. And so they began to see how their personal lives connected to the bigger, political world.

Yesterday I promised I would get back to John Scalzi's post: Why Yes, I Should Write About Politics.  John writes:

Why yes, fiction writers should write about politics, if they choose to. And so should doctors and plumbers and garbage collectors and lawyers and teachers and chefs and scientists and truck drivers and stay-at-home parents and the unemployed. In fact, every single adult who has reason enough to sit down and express an opinion through words should feel free to do just that. Having a citizenry that is engaged in the actual working of democracy matters to the democracy, and writing about politics is a fine way to provide evidence that one is actually thinking about these things.
As it happens, it has been suggested that I stop talking about feminism. That I stop talking about women in STEM, women in leadership, and technology's impacts on women. That I be more of a conformist.

<Sarah Silverman quote from Catalyst>

As a job-searcher, I am in a tough position right now. I recognize that checking people's social media profiles is a not-uncommon practice these days. But I'm going to ask readers to think about what it is that I do share / post / say. I live in the United States of America, where:
  1. Everybody has a right to an opinion (although expressing hateful opinions can have consequences, as a fraternity learned this week). I believe, and do my best, to not be hateful.
  2. We have defined processes for requesting and organizing changes in our government, established in the Constitution.
In addition to the martial art pledge I referenced, in addition to my experience on the site diversity council, in Houston for a time we were youth group leaders at the UU church. Part of the trainings we went through for that position included UUA Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression training.

I am a work in progress, and part of this blog does/should include my continuing effort to unlearn my privileges and oppressions.

Society is a work in progress.

I am aware that there exist within the feminist community people who want a do-over on the U.S. government. Notwithstanding Thomas Jefferson's opinions... I can't go that far. I have to keep coming back to the constitutional principles for Democratic Change, and the UU 5th principle, working through the process to update or remove unjust laws.

Also, given where I want to go with my technical career, there are limits to the Civil Disobedience I can perform. A minister once relayed the story, of Walt Whitman visiting Henry David Thoreau while he was imprisoned. Whitman is said to have asked his friend, "Henry, what are you doing in jail?" And Thoreau replied "What are you doing OUT of jail?"

If being a Whitman rather than a Thoreau makes me a bad feminist, so be it.

Is speaking out on these issues career-limiting?

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, even the work I did for the Diversity Council, the literature review of Catalyst data, all of that has been on my own time, unpaid volunteer labor, and social media on my personal electronics. I believe that these are issues that we MUST discuss. The current discussion on Twitter about call-out culture? If we do not speak up and speak out, then we condone the status quo... which is unjust.

I asked a person to review my resume for feedback two weeks ago. This individual immediately recommended that I remove the "Diversity" item from the resume, saying "The only color companies care about, is green."

When I decided to return to my M.S.E. program, to begin the business class portion, I fully expected to be taught why all of the research I had independently read was wrong.  I expected to learn the opposing side, that the business case for diversity was flawed or impractical.

That didn't happen. In fact the opposite occurred. Harvard Business School is working on making changes for gender equity. It's a rocky road, but they are trying.

I think my programming background gets in the way, sometimes, on social matters. If code isn't doing what you need it to do, a developer changes the code to fix the results. If our policies, processes, and procedures are not creating a just and equitable society... then we should consider what patching and refactoring can be done.

The business courses that I took at Thunderbird affirmed to me that the business case for diversity is stronger than ever, and if a company wants green, wants money, then the company will care about diversity.

Now, nobody has figured out the magic formula to make it work yet. Corporations are also a work in progress. (I'll save Economics and Capitalism for tomorrow's post.)

So, Diversity is staying on my resume. If a manager sees it there and tosses my resume, well then I didn't want to work for them.

Will you pass the test?