Beyond the Usual, Passive DEI Efforts in Tech

Blog:Education is Greater than College

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Manny Becerra as a child

March 2007

There are many people that have the privilege and opportunity to access higher education; whether or not they wish to pursue higher education is another story, which has layers of nuances within itself based on one's privilege. There are also many people that cannot access most any form of higher education beyond high school or community college even though formal education is something they absolutely want to continue to pursue; this can usually be due, but not limited, to: gatekeeping by an individual or group of people in society, inaccessible resources (e.g. content, physical buildings, etc.), and laws that have codified discrimination.

As someone who sits on hiring committees, I often wonder how much talent and potential we miss out on because we are required to screen out, for instance, individuals that haven't gone through a formal bachelor's program. This is short-sighted of us as a whole.

As someone who sits on hiring committees at the community college, I often wonder how much talent and potential we miss out on, by extension our students, because we screen out, for instance, individuals that haven't gone through a formal bachelor's program. This is short-sighted of us as a whole. For instance, there are some subject-matters that having obtained a bachelor's degree (or higher) doesn't necessarily equate to competency of a subject-matter; on the other hand, having some training and lived experiences can often yield wealth of infomration worth sharing with others.

I also believe (and hope) that as technology advances and access to technology widens, more and more folks, particularly poor and minority communities, will have more accessible ways to learn, share knowledge, and gain skills outside of the traditional learning pathway they're excluded from. And, such acquired knowledge and skills shouldn't be seen as any less valuable because it was gained outside of an institution that is designed to gatekeep people's full potential in society.

If you're in a position to hire individuals, try not to overlook candidates that don't fall into the "normal" avenue of how they learned a skillset.

I keep these things in mind when I'm in a position of privilege to hire or recommend candidates. I can't change codified, discriminatory laws and practices overnight nor single-handedly but I can be an advocate for people and more just practices any chance I get.

In the meantime, learn on—always: a life full of continuous learning and growth is priceless compared to one in which active learning stops once a degree is earned/received.

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Manny Becerra as a child

I operate from a place of compassion, possibility and imagination. My work and efforts share a common goal: create a better, sustainable and equitable world by building inclusive communities, products & experiences.