Code You Do It?
The other day, NPR had a segment about employment, tech, and coding. According to this piece, there will be upwards of a million coding job openings, set to go unfilled for a lack of employees with the requite skills. The bleeding heart cynic in me had a lot of reactions to this. I decided to share my opinion on the subject.
1. Back in the early 2000s companies shed tech jobs like crazy. Skilled, competent labor left the market. Then when it turned out they’d cut too deep and they needed to rehire, well, those workers were gone.
2. If tech would take the lead and solve their gender and diversity imbalance, maybe there wouldn’t be a million unfilled jobs looming. Let’s spend a minute on that. Maybe fixing that problem requires changing the way companies think about hiring and way they treat the people they hire. Married, white, male employees can work crazy hours because there’s a woman at home doing all the heavy lifting. The current employment environment relies on women shouldering the majority of the work of family and home. It’s pretty effing ironic that these companies (looking at you IBM, because you go caught) then bitch (heh!) that women just leave to have children or burn out or want time off. The folks at the top have the privilege of unpaid female labor to get and keep them there.
3. Here’s another interesting thought exercise:
Cliche: Adults don’t know anything about tech. They need their kids to show them how it’s done.
Reality: The internet was invented by people who are now in their 60s.
4. I work for a company where upper management is just about all people of color. The CEO of this company has no problem finding and hiring skilled AND diverse IT management and staff. Maybe, just maybe, the diversity problem isn’t a problem of a lack of diverse talent. Maybe the problem is companies with a hiring problem and a retention problem. If Ferguson has taught us anything it’s that racism is alive and well and so ingrained in our daily lives White people can’t even see it. Maybe our 3-strikes and Zero-tolerance programs need to applied to racist and misogynist behavior instead of drugs and crime.
5. Tech has transformed our lives. Just think what we might achieve if companies had the input and talents of ALL the qualified, brilliant people they currently keep outside. Maybe building a working environment that does not require anyone to sacrifice family and personal lives for success at the office would gain far more than is lost when they stop relying on white male employees working 80 and more hours a week.
6. Talk about teaching coding all you want. But don’t forget that talent comes in all size, genders, and colors. I’ll give you a pass on your complaints about a dearth of talent just as soon as you stop limiting where you look for talent.