The Atlantic

The Problem With Diversity in Computing

Tech’s discriminatory culture might never change, no matter how many women and people of color are invited into the room.
Source: Mark Peterson / Getty

When Amy Webb broke her ankle, she was forced to hobble around on a walking boot. That inconvenience spawned others: among them, she couldn’t pass through the metal detector at airport TSA PreCheck lines any longer. Instead, she had to use the backscatter machines that produce X-ray images of passengers.

Webb, who is a professor at New York University and the author of The Big Nine: How the, took the inconvenience as a firsthand opportunity to watch how this technology, which uses computational methods to mark possible risks on the body, really works. “I’m looking at the screen,” she says of the image that appeared from her scan, “and my cast, head, and breasts were big blocks of yellow.” While waiting for the ensuing pat-down, she watched a couple of other women go through. Same thing: blocks of yellow across their breasts.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic2 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Stacey’s Nom?
Stacey Abrams hinted this week that she’d be open to being vice president. Plus: Israel reversed course, but Representative Rashida Tlaib won’t go.
The Atlantic9 min readSociety
America Moved On From Its Gay-Rights Moment—And Left a Legal Mess Behind
Half a decade after the Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision, the justices and Congress are still trying to figure out what federal law should say about LGBTQ rights.
The Atlantic5 min readScience
A Tissue Sample From 1966 Held Traces of Early HIV
To understand the virus’s history, a team worked to reconstruct its genome from a time before anyone knew the virus existed.