Geek Feminism Wiki

These are some items which may indicate good or bad things about the diversity and/or friendliness to a diverse audience of a particular workplace or environment.

Job seekers can use this as inspiration for creating a list of things to notice or ask about when considering an employer.

People seeking to make their workplace or project more inviting to diverse candidates can use this as inspiration to better display their existing friendliness, or to make changes in service of improving the workplace.

Red Green
WASP names seem required. Presence of people who possess non-WASPy names; colleagues seem comfortable using them.
Pseudonyms, even persistent pseudonyms, are disallowed and/or spoken out against. The need for pseudonyms is respected and explicitly allowed.
Assumptions are made about names when creating email addresses and doing other not easily changed data entry. Name preferences are asked about explicitly.
Name preferences are not asked about

Name preferences are not respected when someone volunteers them

Name preferences are asked about, but promptly ignored if they do not suit a very narrow standard, or not communicated to departments which would need to know them (for example, the department in charge of creating email addresses).

Requests to have an incorrectly entered name changed in a system are denied.

Name preferences are communicated to all necessary individuals or departments, and corrected promptly if wrong.
Software which cannot accommodate "unusual" name conventions is used without question or defended. Software accommodating the names of its users is considered important.
Candidates who do not have visible open source contributions are not considered. Candidates who have not been able to make open source contributions are considered. Some reasons for not having visible contributions include:
  • New to the field.
  • Haven't found a project of good match.
  • Don't feel like/can't take a 2nd (or 3rd) shift in building up an open source history.
  • Have worked under contracts which prohibit or strongly restrict open source contributions.
  • Have contributed under another name especially a "dead name" or a pseudonym which would not be helpful to disclose (activist history, search results which would be non-trivial to clean up).
When filling out forms, all "diversity" fields are required, with no opt-out. People filling out the form can decline to include things like: gender, honorific (the usual choices indicate gender, reveal marital status for women, and lack gender-neutral options), race/ethnicity/nationality, income.
Previous salary is asked about, and used to determine hiring salary. Previous salary is not asked about. Salary requirements are asked about. If fair market rate or company standard payment are greater than the salary requirement, the larger is used.
High-level executives are paid outrageously more than anyone else, particularly when contractors, employees, or the company as a whole are struggling. High-level executives' compensation is not outrageous when compared to the standard and lowest pay rates. High-level executives take pay cuts or forego bonuses if the company is in financial trouble.
The entry-level rate of payment is not sufficient to maintain a single-person dwelling, reliable transportation, health care, food, and pay off education debt. The entry-level rate of payment is more than sufficient to survive and save.
Heavy use of contractors and N-as-a-service to avoid responsibility for certain classes of worker. Respectful and ethical treatment of temps and contractors. A clear path from temp/contractor to permanent employment in cases where this makes sense. Appropriate financial transparency about pay rates for service workers as well as knowledge workers and management/executives.
The organization explicitly or implicitly supports a classist hierarchy of access to basic services, or attempts to evade regulatory systems put in place to protect people and the environment.
  • When providing transportation, denies that it's a transit service and removes accessibility features.
  • Encourages private shuttle use in favor of available public transit.
  • Private shuttles use public transit stops without paying.
The organization works to ensure that all people (not just their employees or people who can pay extra) have access to things like public transit and housing, or endorses groups supporting these ends. It acknowledges the role of regulatory oversight.
Directory features do not disambiguate between people with the same name, or make it excessively difficult. It's easy to find out which of several "Jane Smith"s in the directory is the one you need to contact.
It is necessary for colleagues to remember the former name of someone who has changed names since arriving.
  • Not possible to change email address to reflect new name (must use it every day)
  • Not possible to change the name in peer review system (must use it every quarter or every year)
There is no need for anyone to use or remember someone's former name (with the exception of some form of note in a private employee record).
  • Main system login reflects current name
  • Email address reflects current name
  • Bouncing emails do not reveal the old name
  • HR records can be found by current name
  • Peer review system uses current name
  • Repository uses current name, at least for contributions made after the change
Resource groups, support groups, or professional organizations for women in technology, LGBTI (etc) people, and other under-represented groups in technology do not exist in this organization, or the person giving out the information has never heard of them, is unable to find information on them, does not consider it important, or is able to confidently tell you they do not exist. If the majority of the organization are all members of the same marginalized identity, there are poor or no resources for members who are members of other marginalized identities (whether or not they are members of the majority). Resource groups, support groups, or professional organizations for a variety of under-represented groups in technology do exist in the workplace, or the organization is small enough that external resource/support/organizations can reasonably fill the need. In some organizations, the majority of the organization are members of the same marginalized identity which might make a special internal group for that particular identity unnecessary.
Organization has a hostile reputation with reputable advocacy groups. Organization is listed as friendly by reputable advocacy groups.
An interview team composed solely of white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgender men. An interview team including women, people of color, people with visible disabilities, people with a marginalized sexual or gender identity, people with intersectional minority identities, ...
A public complete team listing composed solely of people who appear to be white men. People who are not white men are valued team members.
Everyone appears to be around the same age. A range of ages are present, including young workers, mid-career workers, and mature workers.
Explicit or de facto gender segregation by role, equal or greater than the average gender composition of the field. Most back-end engineers are men. Women are present in more user-facing roles like user experience or front end. Office administrators are women. No one appears to have a non-binary gender. A mix of genders in every role. People with non-binary genders are present.
Mixed-gender lodging is prohibited by corporate policy or manager preference when using organization-funded housing (such as on an offsite trip, interview trip, or conference), even when everyone who would be rooming together would prefer a mixed-gender arrangement. When using organization-funded housing (such as on an offsite trip, interview trip, or conference), people are allowed to pick roommates without their preference and trust being overridden by gender-based lodging policies.
Complaints of harassment or bad behavior are ignored or easily dismissed. The comfort and safety of the organization's management team and/or the accused harasser is prioritized. Complaints of harassment or bad behavior are taken seriously and investigated. The comfort and safety of the victim and community as a whole are prioritized.
In environments which do not require a uniform or specific safety gear: everyone is wearing essentially the same thing. (Often suits, or jeans/hoodies and fun/free shirts/shorts.) No one is wearing a skirt, or, no woman is wearing pants. No one is wearing a head covering. Individual choices of taste and style are apparent in clothing and accessories. Women who are fashion-forward (in roles other than receptionist, office manager, and designer) feel free to dress up at work, and know that it will not diminish their technical standing with teammates.
All communications take place via phone or video conference, with no textual option. Options for contact include text as well as audio.
Barriers to physical access, no stair-free entrances, no stair-free access to other floors, on-site decisions which block access (items stored in accessible bathroom stalls, items stored which block wheeled access to accessible entrances and/or lifts or just random rooms), unawareness that people may need accessible facilities, et cetera ad nauseam. Fully accessible physical facilities, including stair-free entrances, and general awareness of which routes and services are not fully accessible (if any).
"Invisible" disabilities are not considered, ridiculed, dismissed, or otherwise marginalized. Any mention of having an invisible disability is treated as calling attention to it and excessive. Use of sick days to deal with disability related problems is not allowed or discouraged. "Invisible" disabilities are taken seriously and provided with adequate accommodation.
Accommodations for protected minority differences are granted grudgingly and/or after pressure based on the legal requirement to provide accommodation. Any accommodations given are at the minimum level to fulfill the organization's legal responsibility. (Examples: an elevator which is kept turned off and requires the assistance of someone who can climb stairs in order to turn on, instructions to lactate in the bathroom) Accommodations are granted without hassle and a minimum of red tape. Sometimes there is no need to request accommodation as existing features are already specifically in place or could be used. (Examples: floating holidays which enable people with minority religious holidays to have paid time off; facilities which could be used for lactation exist before anyone there starts breastfeeding)
Inaccessible website, with "features" like navigation elements in images with no alt text, maze-like flyout menus, technologies which are hostile to screen readers, technologies which require extensive mouse use. Accessible website.
Directions to the site which consist of a screenshot of a map website. The address is given as part of the image. Directions to the site including the address in text, any special instructions in text, and awareness of people who will be arriving via methods which are not single-driver car. A link to a map website is included (if relevant).
Any awareness for the safety of the surroundings is mostly focused on the presence of variously marginalized people in the area. Awareness of safety considerations of access to the location like: nighttime lighting and any dark spots, access control to the space (and what to do if locked out), whether there is nighttime foot traffic, knowledge of typical crimes reported in the area, police or private security patrols, if police or private security have a history of violence.
Recruiting that talks up "perks" as incentives to join. Recruiting that mentions substantial benefits like excellent healthcare plans.
Minimal parental leave Generous leave for new parents
Unbalanced maternity/paternity leave Equal leave for anyone who becomes a new parent
Healthcare coverage significantly restricts benefits for people with disabilities, mental health care, or gender reassignment surgery Healthcare coverage is inclusive
Healthcare initiatives that include office weight loss programs. Healthcare initiatives that acknowledge HAES (Health At Every Size) principles.
Pervasive diet talk, discussion of "clean" eating, obligatory performative guilt at eating/guilt at eating the "wrong" thing, pushiness to make people eat things they don't want to. When food/eating is discussed, it is not terrible. No moral value is assigned to particular foods. When food is offered, it is all right to accept without expressing guilt, or all right to decline without explanation.
Food requirements are not asked about. The food is two types of pizza: pepperoni of unspecified meat (likely mixed pork and beef) and cheese with wheat dough, and cheese with wheat dough. Onsite food options are limited, with no way to go offsite for a meal. It is not easy to bring your own food. Food requirements are asked for and honored. Food preferences are considered. Group is aware of a variety of possible requirements. Onsite food options are diverse, and/or it is easy to get food offsite in a timely manner. It is easy to bring your own food. Accommodates a variety of religions, illnesses, and ethical frameworks.
Slurs against marginalized groups are used Slurs against marginalized groups are not used
When slurs against marginalized groups are used, they are not challenged If someone uses a slur against a marginalized group, someone makes it clear that this is inappropriate for the environment. (Ideally the situation would not even come up outside of training materials.)
The only people who seem to be standing up for the interests of various marginalized groups are members of those groups, e.g. the only one asking how this change will affect voice control software users is the voice control software user. The interests of marginalized groups are well-represented, including by people who do not seem to be members of those groups. There are reference documents for checking specific points of friendliness, and they are known and used by people besides members of the marginalized groups.
Rules, guidelines, and frameworks intended to be protective to marginalized groups are used as a tool of further oppression. Criticism of these rules is unconstructive and aimed at increasing the comfort and power of people who already enjoy more comfort and power than those who the rules are in place to protect; and/or constructive criticism of the rules is shut down or dismissed. Intersectional needs are dismissed or denied. Rules, guidelines, and frameworks intended to be protective to marginalized groups are examined to ensure they actually work in practice. Constructive criticism can be aired, even if the person or group with the complaint cannot offer a solution. Intersectional needs are considered.
No mentoring is offered. New employees are expected to discover what all the parts of the existing code are themselves, discouraged from asking questions, and socially ignored (unless they share enough hobbies to be a "cultural fit"). New employees are assigned one or more mentors to introduce them to the code and the work environment.
Criticism or rejection of contributions offers no useful feedback (no feedback at all or "RTFM"). Criticism of contributions often includes specific steps for improvement. This fosters an environment where learners are welcome, and people who are not confident in their skills can improve.
Criticism of contributions is rude or personally insulting. Contributors are treated respectfully, even if their contribution does not meet standards or is in disagreement with the project direction.
Questioning, disagreeing with, or criticism of leadership is not allowed. Contributors/employees are allowed to express their own diverse opinions, even when those opinions are different than the official organizational stance.
Leaders not only work in support of projects or campaigns intended to suppress or further disadvantage vulnerable minorities on their own time and with their own money, but they do this in official project/organization space. The organization actively and financially supports projects to empower vulnerable minorities.
No code of conduct or a weak code of conduct like "don't be a jerk". An explicit code of conduct detailing specific unacceptable behaviors, and possible consequences.
"Zero tolerance" codes of conduct. A scale of consequences that takes into account multiple factors, but which includes the possibility of complete and permanent exclusion when that is the consequence that is called for.
Leaders are seen to act in a way which would violate the code of conduct, if there was one. Leaders are held accountable to the same or similar standards of conduct as regular contributors/employees.
T-shirts are ordered in "unisex" (straight-cut) sizes only, with a maximum size of XL. T-shirts are ordered in both straight-cut and fitted styles, and extended sizes are offered in both styles.
Swag is ordered in two colors, blue and pink, or perhaps blue and lavender. Swag is one color or multiple colors. If pink is present, there are other choices.
The pink or lavender one is smaller or has worse specs than other colors. All items have the same specs. If there are items designed for smaller hands or smaller bodies, there is a choice of colors.
Official or unofficial company text contains a lot of microaggressive language, such as war-like metaphors for tasks, slurs for task targets, gendering that reinforces stereotypes, etc. Use of such language is unchallenged or even promoted. Removal of this language is questioned or fought. Neutral and inclusive use of language is standard and/or promoted. Removal of aggressive, uninclusive, or microaggressive language is encouraged.
No mention of typical work schedule. Expected work hours are mentioned: by time, location, and duration. If work outside of expected parameters has to happen, it will be compensated for accordingly.

It is stated whether the work schedule is optimized for coverage (enough people for all roles at all business hours, including days and times where nobody wants to work), collaboration (maximizing the time everyone is in the same place at the same time to work together), or flexibility (everyone chooses a schedule and location that works best for them).

Inflexible work schedules, inequitable distribution of preferred work schedules, or work schedules that treat purely recreational activities with the same priority as emergencies or significant cultural observances. Work schedules which can be modified to accommodate things like:
  • Medical appointments (disability)
  • Frequent illness (disability)
  • Atypical sleep schedule (non-24-hour sleep/wake disorder, delayed sleep phase disorder)
  • Children's school schedules (parenthood, often falls to women)
  • Childcare (parenthood, often falls to women)
  • Caregiving for family, including people not included in legally mandated parental leave programs (limited to spouse, child, parent; affects people not legally married, or who are not the legal parent of their child, or who have other non-nuclear family structures)
  • Continuing education (economic insecurity, people who have changed careers, people who have been self-taught)
  • Second jobs (economic insecurity)
  • Cultural or religious holidays which are not already included in the work schedule (minority cultural or religious groups)
  • Unfavorable, unreliable, or long commutes (people who live far from work, people who rely on public transportation; affects economic insecurity, disability which precludes driving, people who can't move closer to work)
Hints or outright statements that the work expected will intrude into leisure time or other obligations, possibly without compensation. Acknowledgement that workers are entitled to personal lives and time outside of work without disruption. Clear information on what sorts of crises might cause intrusion of work into personal time, and what sort of compensation (overtime for hourly workers, extra time off, other considerations) is provided when work intrudes into non-work time.
"Oh, we all leave the office by six! It's great!" Unsaid: "So you're going to be in the office at nine every day without fail." Explicit mention of the expected start time as well as the end time. Acknowledgement of sleep schedule diversity. Willingness to work with people's individual sleep schedule and outside obligations in scheduling. Some work from home is possible.
Open plan office. Anyone who needs a cubicle or an office with walls and a door that closes to support their work needs can access one without fuss, question, or threat of being seen as a "special case".
  • People with PTSD and other trauma survivors may require a wall behind them to avoid hypervigilance.
  • People with ADHD may need visual isolation in order to focus.
  • Barrier to casual interruption.
  • Many people cannot focus in the presence of active conversation; open plan offices often put the burden of mitigation on the sufferer and ask them to wear headphones, instead of putting the burden on the speakers and asking them to find a conference room.
  • People with auditory processing disorders have difficulty focusing on an individual conversation in the presence of other noise.
  • Parents who need to pump breast milk (to save to feed their child or donate to a milk bank, or to maintain lactation to continue to breastfeed) can use locking offices with visual privacy instead of being forced into a bathroom.
  • No need to move to a conference room for spontaneous loud/private 1:1 conversations, just shut the door.
  • People with asthma, allergy, or hypersensitivity issues may be unable to work or greatly distracted by acute and/or long-term exposure to scents and fumes from hygiene and cosmetic products, lingering cigarette smoke, pollen and other particles from office plants and bouquets, and even lingering allergens from things like pets.
Completely walled offices. More difficult for highly social people. Less chance for spontaneous collaboration, wandering about between spaces for discussions looks more conspicuous than in an open plan, and may be viewed as loitering instead of a work strategy.
A high number of other horrible factors which do not directly attack diverse candidates, but do make life just that much more difficult. Someone whose life's level of ambient horribleness is generally low might feel able to cope with a generally horrible workplace, especially if they feel as though they would be able to find a new job quickly if it ever got too bad. A low level of ambient horribleness, even on matters that do not directly attack diverse candidates. A low level of horribleness originating from work will better empower people who are dealing with other horrible things in their lives, including things based in (both uncomplicated and intersecting) marginalized identities.

Complicating factors[]

  • Smaller groups may only have a few members, which gives less opportunity for a level of diversity that matches the general population.
  • Smaller companies encounter some items less frequently, such as parental leave: a small company which has only been in business a few years may never have experienced an employee taking parental leave.
  • Out of date information: if a policy or the local culture has changed recently, people you ask may not know how things currently are.
  • A company with a smaller t-shirt budget may have purchased an array of shirts for an event but run out of the most popular fitted cut sizes quickly.
  • A job seeker may find out about a potentially dealbreaking red flag after accepting a job offer.

See also[]