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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Diversity: Really, who cares

 
August 9th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Recently, two items have been in the news.
One was the Pride Parade in San Francisco, which featured floats from Google, Intel, Apple, and Amazon, accompanied by at least a thousand employees of each respective company marching west on Market Street to Civic Center Plaza.

The second item was the now widely-read manifesto from a former Google employee declaring that woman are biologically unfit to contribute to technology. The manifesto and its fallout triggered a billion words of reaction, not the least being finger-pointing at the companies who participated in the Pride Parade, along with suggestions that these companies have been corrupted by political correctness and need to be replaced.

So there you have it: Two diametrically opposed views of the world. What is the tech sector to do with itself?

Certainly, if you don’t like having women in the workplace, there are other places in the world besides Silicon Valley where you can work. If you don’t like racial and religious diversity in the workplace, if you abhor the LGBQT community, there are other cities in the world to live in besides San Francisco. But are there other places where technology is so profoundly woven into the fabric of life?

Yes, of course there are. Many other communities in the U.S. are vital, dynamic hotbeds of technical advancements. Many other countries in the world are vital, dynamic hotbeds of technical advancement. And some of those communities and countries think women do not warrant full access to the technical workplace. Some of those communities and countries discourage, even outlaw, anything LGBQT. Some of those communities are overtly unwelcoming to ethnic and religious diversity.

Be that as it may, is it fair to ask people to move out of Silicon Valley so they can avoid women, LGBQT, and racial and religious diversity? Why shouldn’t the women go home, LGBQT people go back into the closet, and anybody who’s different go back to where they came from so Northern California can get back to what it used to be? Whatever that was.

At this point, I don’t honestly have an answer to that question. What I do observe is that what used to look like an open environment is evolving at a pace that defies belief into something hostile, brittle, and choked off in a gridlock of tragedy and hatred.

Paul McClellan told me in 2012 that when he heard the 49er cheerleaders would be headlining at DAC, he warned conference organizers I would go “ape shit”. Really? Just me? I was the lone wolf? The outlier? EDA really wanted the cheerleaders? Certainly John Cooley and Dan Nenni said they did, and proceeded to blame me personally and brutally for the cancellation.

Now 5 years later, I can see how stupid it all was. The idea of inclusiveness was just that, only an idea. Never a reality. At this point, let John and Dan have their cheerleaders. It didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter now.

In fact, there are fewer women in EDA today than ever before. Two out of the 22 members of Mentor’s executive team are women. One out of the 10 members of Cadence’s executive team is a woman. Three out of the 18 members of Synopsys’ executive team are women. That adds up to six women out of 50 executives, and three of those people are heads of HR, not actually involved in the technology.

EDA doesn’t need to worry that any ex-employee will ever accuse them of being politically correct, because EDA is where electronics begins. And just as charity begins at home, so does diversity or lack thereof.

Yeah there’s racial diversity in EDA, and probably religious diversity although blessedly we don’t have to talk about it. There’s also indebtedness to the Trans community, but then why bring up ancient history or messy attributions? After all Mead Conway and HSpice are so last century. Neither EDAC nor ESDA are ever going to talk about it.

EDA doesn’t have to celebrate diversity, because it never has. And yet it’s always been up and to the right. Nothing wagered, nothing lost. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Really, it’s just all so tiring and stupid. Back in the day, I actually thought it was okay to become an engineer, to have a life of the mind, but I was wrong. It’s taken me 5 long years to get it, but now I do. John and Dan were right, and I was wrong. Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t rock the boat. Bring on the dancing girls. Let the party begin.


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