Duality: Race Perception in Australia

As a white Australian, I feel ill-equipped to speak on behalf of an entire people. But, as a user of social media, I can confidently write that I am continually frustrated by the double standard of prejudice I see in the country I was born in.

It is a strange kind of irony that Australians show open disgust at the lack of diversity at the Oscars -an elitist awards event far removed from the everyday reality of Australians - yet show no real compassion for the segregation issues so often observed at home. But, there is hope in the artwork of ACT High School student, Ineka Voigt. ‘Stolen Dreamtime’ featured as the Australia Day logo for the world’s most used website. Google explained the logo choice; “In response to the theme of ‘If I could travel back in time I would…’ Ineka wrote “… I would reunite mother and child. A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was… all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime”.

The sketch should remind non-Indigenous Australians of the cost others have paid for their privilege. Rather than reflecting the hateful “If you don’t live it, leave it” nonsense posted too often on social media, Ineka’s illustration artfully reflects what should be recognised clearly as the day of dispossession it is.

In the UK, Asylum seekers’ doors are being painted red to identify their houses to the community. Today a law was passed in Denmark allowing refugees to be stripped of their possessions to cover the cost of their asylum. To this day, Aboriginal Australians fail to be recognised in the country’s Constitution.

Left in the hands of an aging generation, it seems that legitimate respect for difference is getting further from possible. I look ahead and see all of the mistakes my generation will be apologising for. So, it is fitting that the truth of our history is best reflected on Australia day through the eyes of a child already disillusioned by the views and actions of previous generations.

 
Haylee Read CONTRIBUTOR

Haylee Read CONTRIBUTOR

 

#Ilooklikeanengineer

Image via: 

Although it’s 2015, gender biases still exist (surprising, no?). Obviously they have improved over the last decades, but there are still many careers and fields of study that are considered “historically male-dominated.” One of those is engineering.

Isis Anchalee, a female platform engineer at the company OneLogic, was featured in their recruiting campaign – she appeared on billboards designed to try and draw in more women. After receiving backlash for her photo – which commenters claimed gave a false picture of what female engineers looked like – Wegner started a campaign, using the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer.

The point of the campaign is to help redefine what an engineer should look like, hopefully making the field more accessible to a diverse group of individuals, according to Anchalee. It encourages people – both male and female – to post pictures of themselves with the hashtag.

Vicky Scrooby - Software Engineering

Data from 2014 (via ) shows that less than a quarter of engineers in any given specialisation are female. Vicky Scrooby, a software engineering student at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, hopes that can change.

Scrooby was interested in engineering from a young age, and received full support from her friends and family to pursue the degree.

 “I became interested in engineering near the end of high school,” she said via email.  “I have always enjoyed science and math, so I was looking into degree options that included those subjects. The reason I was drawn to engineering is the real-life application aspect. Engineering takes theoretical concepts, and applies them into concepts and objects that can be used and seen.”

Scrooby is currently completing a 12-month internship between her third and fourth years of study. 

While it can’t be denied that gender-bias does exist, Scrooby says she’s been fairly lucky.

“I wouldn't say I've received any negative backlash due to being a woman in this field. There definitely is a difference in gender representation […] However I find that my fellow students and colleagues treat me just the same as a male.”

Not only is Scrooby an engineering student, she also feels strongly about encouraging females to pursue careers in the field. One of her jobs had her running programs that encouraged younger girls to think about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, and she thinks #ILookLikeAnEngineer is a good idea.

“I think the best way to encourage girls, whether through clubs & camp sessions, or whether through advertising campaigns, is through having a good role model. Isis Anchalee is a legitimate software engineer, so I think she is a good role model.”

In the meantime, Isis Anchalee is now developing a team to build www.ilooklikeanengineer.com as a "safe platform for us al lto continue to share our stories and experiences relating to diversity issues in tech." 

 

Cam Parkes   CONTRIBUTOR