Why Is Representation Important in the Field of Technology?

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

The act of representing something is an important aspect of human communication. It allows us to make sense of the world around us and our place in it, by providing a window into the experiences of others. It also plays an essential role in the process of identity formation, allowing individuals to form and express their own ideas, beliefs, and opinions.

However, in the field of technology, we still struggle with the reality that marginalized communities are severely underrepresented. There are numerous panels at conferences, books, and podcasts dedicated to this issue. And while it’s great that so much attention is being given to the topic, we are a long way from seeing real change.

In the world of data and AI, it’s especially important that companies listen to a wide variety of voices and perspectives. Failure to do so risks propounding “a single story”, as novelist Chimamanda Adichie says, which can create space for fundamental misinterpretations reflective of a particular narrative, community or culture.

For example, Black women in data and AI are currently underrepresented in the industry. This scarcity of representation limits the parameters of perspectives and experiences that are incorporated into these technologies, which can result in biases and prejudices like racial profiling, biased hiring practices, predatory advertising, and false information distribution.

The first step to tackling this issue is to ensure that companies are making an active effort to recruit and retain diverse candidates. This can be done by focusing on employee development and offering opportunities to grow their skills outside of work, as well as promoting the company’s diversity initiatives in a clear and visible way.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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