Valerie Taylor – Keynote at GHC 2013

Valerie Taylor at GHC

Starts with comment that the 1994 GHC had 600 attendees, it’s wonderful to see it at 4800.

Visited Anita Borg because of research, talked about GHC. Talked about under-represented groups. First Systers of colour. 10-15 women talking about Systers of colour.

First GHC was the first conference that was technical, but at the end of the evening, they danced.

Systers of Color started as a small listserv, wasn’t very active. But in 2004 in Chicago, the women of colour luncheon had over 100 participants. So they had gone from 15 to over 100. Great to see the many different communities at GHC.

There are differences in groups, but some commonalities, at the San Diego WOC lunch they talked about issues – women from Indiana and women from India both talked about accents. Found commonalities in the issues.

What is meant by cultural diversity? Diversity – culture of human behaviour that honours people for who they are, what they know.

Made many mistakes. Reflect on conclusions – three things. Engage, Embrace, Enhance.

Engage – taking time to learn about others. Tells story of going on a hike with Anita and realising that Anita was learning from her, culturally, and about her background.

Embrace – embraced her background, embraced her whole self.

Enhance – embrace others, get something bigger. Need to not isolate or leave people out when you get them in the room.

At Purdue, there was herself, a white male, and a male from India. The white male asked her if she was from the projects? No. Was she first generation? No. Was she in a gang? No. Eventually he asked what was her background, and was sorry for asking the way he did – that was all he knew. They talked about his background too, and became good friends.

Did mediation training as a Texas A&M department head. Thought that mediation training was about resolving issues between conflicting patties. But actually, mediation is getting conflicting parties to come to their own solution.

Learned that conflict is about emotion. “But that is not logical, why do you feel that way?”

Language – the adjectives you use, the difference between saying “good question”, and “wow, excellent question”.

Learned what it really means to listen – repeat what someone is saying.

It’s really important when engaging someone to learn about their background and experiences.

Talks about a specific project, a collaboration on performance and power modelling, (to do with) top super computer – 17 megawatts. Needed to first learn about each other, and build a common language.

Her mother’s advice – “let’s work with what we have”. Others want to ask for more – have to find a middle ground.

Having International students, some of them have the background where it is inappropriate to question their elders – and she is considered an elder. To embrace/enhance that, has students present with each other. Saves her comments for last – so they are not seen as the answer. Wants everyone to have the opportunity to speak and ask questions.

Talks about workshops, starts with the discussion, for the hearing impaired, look at the person not the interpreter. Slides, leave up for a minute before talking, so that the hearing impaired can look at the slide, then look at the interpreter.

Name, comment, and question start a discussion. This makes it more engaging – good for everyone involved.

Job change, with very little transition time or overlap with predecessor. Began to respond, realised that she hadn’t taken time to engage with staff. Looked at how to engage everyone in the unit, which has been more fruitful.

Maya Angelo said “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

Everyone brings unique experiences and background to that tapestry.

Everyone brings something unique to the conference and field.. Challenge is to take time to engage in dialog, learn about background and experiences, use new knowledge to enhance what you’re doing.

Evolving as we add diversity to the field of computing.

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