Celebrate diversity!

This morning I watched a TED talk given by Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and executive director of Code forImage America, an organization that stations web professionals in various cities to promote public service and connect people to civic efforts through creative apps.

In her funny, enthralling TED talk, Pahlka shows that the creation of apps inexpensively, effectively, and quickly motivates citizens to strengthen their communities and roles as people of a democracy. Even simple apps, like a Boston-based one that gets citizens to adopt fire hydrants and uncover them when it snows have been adapted to fit the needs of other US cities. She urges listeners to take collective action and utilize existing technology, embracing and not disdaining bureaucracy. Pahlka asks, “remember, ‘we the people’?”

As you readers know, The OpEd Project works to diversify the voices disseminating information and the opinions heard in the public sphere. Our Byline Survey Report shows the alarming, persisting gender gap in op-ed publishing. Countless reports point to gender equality in business, technology, medicine, politics, and journalism as the force that will yield societal progress. The consequences of silencing important, knowledgeable voices are dire; the benefits of having diverse workforces and media sources are innumerable. This we know.

But it’s time also to focus on the female and minority voices that are succeeding in projecting themselves to the public. The OpEd Project posts articles published through our program daily on our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and website, in an effort to ensure that these people gain recognition, listeners, and readers.

It’s important to understand that the fields of technology, science, and government are male-dominated; it’s important to be concerned by this and dedicate efforts to enhancing opportunities in these domains for qualified minorities and women. Just as we should be frustrated by the lack of women and minorities in government and technology, we should be inspired by the few who are. We should know their work, appreciate their efforts, and even get involved ourselves.

As we work towards broadcasting the voices of all people, let’s acknowledge those already out there. We’re the people, they’re the people, and those like Pahlka have fascinating ideas that deserve viewership. 

Anna Meixler

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