Why dominant racial and gender groups have preferential access to jobs in computing, and how feminist labor activism in computing culture can transform the field into a force that serves democracy and social justice.
Cracking the Bro Code is a bold ethnographic study of sexism and racism in contemporary computing cultures theorized through the analytical frame of the “Bro Code.” Drawing from feminist anthropology and STS, Coleen Carrigan shares in this book the direct experiences of women, nonbinary individuals, and people of color, including her own experiences in tech, to show that computing has a serious cultural problem. From senior leaders in the field to undergraduates in their first year of college, participants consistently report how sexism and harassment manifest themselves in computing via values, norms, behaviors, evaluations, and policies. While other STEM fields are making strides in recruiting, retaining, and respecting women workers, computing fails year after year to do so.
Carrigan connects altruism, computing, race, and gender to advance the theory that social purpose is an important factor to consider in working toward gender equity in computing. Further, she argues that transforming computing culture from hostile to welcoming has the potential to change not only who produces computing technology but also the core values of its production, with possible impacts on social applications. Cracking the Bro Code explains how digital bosses have come to operate imperiously in our society, dodging taxes and oversight, and how some programmers who look like them are enchanted with a sense of divine right. In the context of computing’s powerful influence on the world, Carrigan speculates on how the cultural mechanisms sustaining sexism, harassment, and technocracy in computing workspaces impact both those harmed by such violence as well as society at large.
About our Speaker:
Dr. Coleen Carrigan is Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on broadening participation, combating inequities, and enhancing public engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), with a particular emphasis on computing. She uses feminist ethnography to investigate the cultural dimensions of technology and the politics of knowledge and reproduction. A recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, Carrigan investigates the intersections of gender, race, labor, and social values in computing. She was a senior manager in the high-tech industry before on-ramping into academia. Her book, Cracking the Bro Code, is forthcoming from MIT Press.
Moderator: Dr. Sonia Kang holds the Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the University of Toronto and University of Toronto Mississauga, where she is also Academic Director at the Rotman School of Management’s Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) and Chief Scientist, Organizations in the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Centre at Rotman (BEAR). She holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Toronto and completed a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University. Sonia’s research explores the challenges and opportunities of identity, diversity, and inclusion. She takes a novel approach by harnessing the power of behavioural insights and organizational design to disrupt systems, processes, and structures that block the path toward diversity and inclusion for individuals, organizations, and society. Sonia’s research has been published widely in top-tier academic journals. Her research on “resume whitening” won two best paper awards and was recently ranked #3 on Financial Times’ global top 100 list of “business school research with social impact”.
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