SIDE PROJECT of the month

He­lena Price’s photo project tells the sto­ries of un­der­rep­re­sented groups in the tech in­dus­try

net magazine - - CONTENTS - job: Pho­tog­ra­pher w: www.he­le­naprice.com t: @he­lena

He­lena Price‘ s Techies project cel­e­brates mi­nor­ity groups in the tech in­dus­try

net: What is Techies ( www.techiespro­ject.com)? HP: Techies is a photo project that ex­plores tech in 2016 through the voice of un­der­rep­re­sented peo­ple in the in­dus­try. So that in­cludes women, peo­ple of colour, LGBT, folks over 50, dis­abled, you name it. Ba­si­cally no straight white dudes. net: What prompted you to em­bark on the project? HP: I worked in tech for sev­eral years. Most of my work is in Sil­i­cone Val­ley and I fol­low the in­dus­try closely. In gen­eral tech is in a weird place right now. Ten­sions are high, con­ver­sa­tions about di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion have kind of risen to a boil, and at the same time there are peo­ple that still be­lieve that these prob­lems don’t ex­ist, and that tech is a per­fect mer­i­toc­racy. So I wanted to cre­ate a project that chal­lenges all of those as­sump­tions. net: How did you launch the project? HP: I did a call for sub­jects on Medium and I had 500 peo­ple ap­ply in two weeks, which I whit­tled down to about 100 peo­ple. In gen­eral I fo­cused on folks that came from back­grounds you wouldn’t ex­pect a typ­i­cal techy to come from, peo­ple who’d been through mas­sive ob­sta­cles to get into Sil­i­con Val­ley. net: What prob­lems did you come up against? HP: It was a re­ally, re­ally in­tense three months. I worked at my desk for 15 hours a day, ate ev­ery meal at my com­puter, and didn’t leave my house. It was also emo­tion­ally in­tense get­ting to know 100 peo­ple’s in­ti­mate sto­ries and their hard­ships. But I think the work is im­por­tant enough that it was worth it. net: Do you have a favourite sub­ject you fea­tured? HP: One was Fe­bru­ary Keeney. She’s an engineering man­ager at GitHub who spent her first decade or so in tech as a man, and once she tran­si­tioned be­came re­ally ac­quainted with the priv­i­lage that she once had and what she lost. There’s also Nancy Douyon, who had a rough up­bring­ing in il­le­gal im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in the states, but is now do­ing amaz­ing re­search work at Google. There’s Kent Brew­ster who’s worked in tech since 1978 and can re­mem­ber the day that ag­ism be­came a thing. Those are just a hand­ful of peo­ple. I have a hard time whit­tling it down. net: Did you learn any­thing that sur­prised you? HP: There’s a lot of things I ex­pected to hear. There’s the things that when we hear it, it makes sense. Like, there’s dis­crim­i­na­tion in tech. But then when you start to hear it over and over and over again through the lens of dif­fer­ent peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences, that’s when it be­comes re­ally pro­found.

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