Being an outsider has been part of my life for quite a while now. A woman with a long and varied career in tech. Middle aged in a profession where youth dominates. An immigrant who settled in the country 25 years ago.
As a shy person, I long to blend in and not stand out. And most of the time, immersed in life and the job, all consciousness of otherness disappears. I am a fish in the water. This is the world I know and this is what I do.
But the political atmosphere of late, has made this feel increasingly selfish, irresponsible and naive. It does not “feel” like it is enough anymore to just get on with things and wait for the funny goings-on to sort themselves out.
I’ve explicitly stressed the “feel” part of it. It is a subjective undercurrent of changing perceptions and feelings, not just within myself, but also in society at large, brought about by the media and polititians.
My multiple “othernesses” make it my responsibility to stand up and make myself visible, as my presence can help change perceptions at multiple levels. Even if it means coming out of my comfort zone.
The question is, though, how to best become visible without alienating or being perceived as confrontational or “militant”.
I believe it can be done simply by keeping a positive vision. Standing for improvement rather than standing up against what should change.
Hence, the decision to start giving talks, technical when possible, and become a mentor volunteer at a coding school for refugees. Collaboration and education instead of confrontation and polarisation. Building together, rather than breaking apart.
A small grain of sand in the process of helping change perceptions.
This is what a techie looks like. This is what a citizen does.
I know I am not alone.