Thursday, March 31, 2016

On Privilege

What do I mean by “Privilege”? Privilege is a set of advantages that I receive, without earning them, merely because of my birth circumstance(s). Privilege is different than prejudice or “ism”s. As a person of privilege, I get the advantages even if don’t have prejudice and don’t engage in overt oppressive activities like sexism or racism.

Some examples of my privilege as a white man include:
• I can go to any workplace and expect to see people who look like me
• If I make a mistake, no one will say that it’s because white people are stupid
• The lead roles in movies and tv shows are usually of my color and gender
• If I have children and a career, I won’t be called selfish for not being home with the children
• I am more likely to get a job than an equally qualified applicant who is a woman and/or person of color

There are many types of privilege, including (specific examples and details can be found by following the links):
White Privilege
Male Privilege
Heterosexual Privilege
Able-bodied Privilege
Class Privilege
Religious Privilege
Cisgender Privilege (contrast with transgender)

You may say: “But I have struggled! I don’t have privilege!” Privilege isn’t about whether I am powerful, wealthy, have a good job, have worked hard all my life to get where I am, or struggle every day. Privilege is simply unearned advantages I get because I belong to a group.

Sometimes when people learn about the concept of privilege, people feel guilt?  If this happens to you, ask yourself where the feeling is coming from. Is it because:
• I never noticed it before?
• I act in ways that make this worse?
• I don’t do things that make it better for people without privilege?

Now that you know about privilege, what can you do about it? You can:
• Read about privilege
• Stay on the lookout for other privileges you might discover you have
• Belive the life experiences of people with less privilege
• Ask yourself if your actions or policies reinforce the advantages of certain privileged groups
• Don’t “help” less-privileged groups - it robs them of agency. Instead amplify their voices (retweet, etc)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pair Programming "Out Loud"

One element of Pair Programming that I find key to success is "Programming Out Loud". When I have the keyboard and mouse (driving), I want to be explaining my train of thought to my pair partner, moment-by-moment. Conversely, if I am the non-keyboard partner (navigating), I want my partner to be explaining their thoughts moment-to-moment. If my partner is practicing "silent pair programming", I try to ask ask questions like: "What's next?" or "Where are we headed?" to try to get them talking about what they are thinking or doing. Or if that doesn't help, I can ask to drive for a while and try and draw out their ideas that way. Usually things don't go this far, unless my partner is new to pairing. When I start to go off silent and solo, my partner usually invites me back into collaborative mode.

But what if my partner is the navigator and they are disengaged? I can ask (slightly tongue-in-cheek): "Are you with me?" It can require courage to "call out" my partner in that way, but sometimes it takes courage to be on a successful agile team. And if I'm the disengaged navigator and I catch myself being distracted, I can ask to write the next test to try and focus myself back on what we are doing.

Do you have ways that you draw a distracted partner back into collaboration? Or do you have ways to get yourself back into collaboration?