by Emma Jane

4 Jul 2015

Diagrams with Diversity

I'm the first one to twitch at conferences when slide decks of developers use exclusively pictures of white men. But I'm also the first to use graphic representations of white people in my own work. I am white. I have a pretty good idea of what sort of imagery of white people is respectful. Whenever I try to diversify the imagery I use, I feel less comfortable. Is it okay for me, a short white woman, to use a picture of celebration which shows a black dude slam dunking a basketball? I want people to feel included by my imagery, not mocked or "othered". Maybe I'm spending a bit too much time thinking about it. (If we're being completely honest, I probably don't spend enough time thinking about it.)

Inspired by No more 'put a skirt on it' I started converting my diagrams in Git for Teams to replace a white smiley face with new shapes. First I changed the hair on a basic form to alter the gender of the outline. The world didn't explode. Next, I got bold, and adjusted the colour used for the faces.

Diverse team completing the peer code review process.

The characters are not elaborate, but they're radically less grating than so many of the other sets of user icons I've found. I'm working from my own very specific background though. I don't know if my interpretation of how "others" look is playing on inappropriate stereotypes.

Community of five figures: 3:2 short to long hair; 3:2 white to non-white skin

Please help me improve this little community of figures by submitting "bug reports" for any element you feel could be improved (features on any of the figures, names of the files, SVG file optimisations). Perhaps you even have suggestions on new figures I could include, which would make you feel represented by the community. The people project is available on GitHub.

The folks are available under a CC-0 license, which is effectively public domain. You are welcome to use this library however you'd like, with or without attribution; with or without modifications. Even if you're not interested in the basic shapes that I've created, I hope you will work with your team to talk about how to positively portray a diverse community.

Dive Deeper

If you want to know more about the Pastry Box Project, you can read about the genesis (and goals) of the project.

Swim In The Stream

A stream of all the thoughts published on the Pastry Box Project is available. Keep it open somewhere, and lose yourself in it whenever you feel like it.

Meet Your Host

There are not only pieces of software talking to each other behind this website. There is a human, too. The Pastry Box is brought to you by Alex Duloz.

Stay Tuned

You can follow @thepastrybox on Twitter. For direct inquiries, get in touch with @alexduloz.