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.

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