When we first launched She+ Geeks Out, we were very clear about staying neutral in our political stance. We want to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all women in STEAM*. We appreciate a diverse set of opinions and want all women to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, but we also believe in positivity, inclusivity, transparency, science, provable facts and the advancement of women.
It’s been, to say the least, a challenge to square the rhetoric coming out of the current administration with any of our goals. Because of this, we have decided to break from our original positioning so that we can continue to support the values that are most important to us, our company, and our community. Let us be clear. This is not about politics– this is about a basic concern for human decency. On a regular basis, the current administration is exposing us to fear-based, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic rhetoric and actions, where hate speech and actions have increased, where women’s health issues are increasing, where families are forced apart… the list goes on. Many of these problems existed before the election, but in the past month they have been highlighted in stark clarity. We can’t stand by and continue to plead a neutral outlook– not in our community, and certainly not with our values.
During the election we were silent at first. As we got closer to the election, we saw that women’s issues were taking a significant hit. This had nothing to do with electing a woman as president, and had everything to do with the toxic language from the GOP candidate about many issues, but particularly about women. We felt it would be dishonest of us to sit back and not speak out when our core mission is to support women.
Then he won. We were disappointed but withheld judgment. Words are one thing, but actions are another. Maybe it was all just bluff and bluster. Surely once he gets into the White House, he’ll have to work with the other branches of government to move his agenda forward, we thought. We knew that we’d end up with a very conservative platform, but it was one that we would accept as part of our democratic system.
Then he announced his cabinet nominees. A labor secretary who puts the needs of the rich above those of employees (who has since been forced to withdraw but not for the right reasons). A secretary of state whose only job has ever been for a multinational oil corporation. A secretary of education with no experience and a disdain for public education. A doctor with no experience in housing and development (who just so happens to be black) as HUD secretary. And worst of all, Steve Bannon in the White House. It’s important to note that this is also the whitest and most male cabinet since Reagan’s.
Then he took office, signing executive orders immediately removing web pages on the whitehouse.gov site about civil rights and climate change and implementing gag orders from various departments. His executive orders were enraging, to put it mildly. His Muslim immigration ban has angered not just progressives, but businesses, scientists, universities and more.
So, we are upset. We are frustrated. And as so many have joked, we are already exhausted (and it’s just been a few weeks!). We wish we were witnessing a reasonable approach to governing, but we aren’t. Therefore, it’s not only our desire to speak out and to use our platform to share ways to ensure democracy remains in tact, but we feel it’s our responsibility.
To be clear, we don’t believe that everyone who voted for Trump wanted this particular outcome. We will try to understand if you believe that what Trump, his administration and the GOP are doing make up the right course of action. However, we respectfully but firmly disagree. We encourage you, if you’re up for it, to open a dialogue and share with us how you square your beliefs with all of what we’ve covered above. We are open to listening, but please, if you think we are not being inclusive to all, know that we are absolutely committed to a worldview where discussions are grounded in actual facts, actual science, equality and respect. We reject alternative facts, painting various groups as the ‘other’, and fear-mongering news headlines.
Originally we thought that neutrality was the right move for us both professionally and on a personal level. However, we now see that even not speaking out can turn into a tacit acceptance of what’s currently happening in our country, and we most definitely do not agree with, or accept, going backward and losing all the advancements we’ve made as a society.
So, here’s what we’re doing. We’re officially a B Corp, which means we’re taking responsibility for community and the environment. We’re offering corporate training to help equip companies with the language and tools for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. We’ve pulled together this list of resources for our community to get involved. And we’ll be here, taking action and continuing to push for a better, more inclusive world.