Where are the Aboriginal programmers?
The recent protests in the US and now unfolding in Australia have given me reason to pause and reflect on what I could do as one person. I’ve spent my entire adult life living in Australia and working full time, but in 12 years as a career programmer I don’t recall interacting with one of Aboriginal descent and this to me is problematic because I have met and spoken to hundreds of, if not a few thousand, fellow Australian I.T. professionals in my life.
When I stop to think about why I’ve never met an Aboriginal I.T. professional — the answers seem painfully and sadly obvious — culture, poverty and lack of opportunity. I don’t want to go on about how hard it is to be a successful career programmer — but it is! While I have no formal tertiary qualification — I had the privilege to grow up with a nerdy circle of friends, access to the public library, home internet access and a working computer in the home. There are likely countless socio-economic reasons that Aboriginal youths have been prevented from entering my field — from poverty to family issues to society making them feel less worthy due to their race.
I feel like in my way, this is something I can take action on. I’ve started polls on my social media accounts to see if anyone else has ever met an Aboriginal programmer just to get a gauge from my immediate community but I have a sad feeling the numbers are going to be very low if they exist at all.
Coding aside, basic computer skills are already a vital workplace skill for a vast number of jobs. The pursuit of computer knowledge and the skills to use them leads to curiosities and ancillary knowledge that can become a limitless pursuit and passion — I should know! I don’t really know where to begin with my contribution but I think the journey to finding has definitely begun.