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Shaving my head made me a better programmer (NDC Oslo 2019)

Shaving my head made me a better programmer (NDC Oslo 2019)

(Given at NDC Oslo on June 20, 2019)

How do perceptions and stereotypes affect those in software and on engineering teams? I used to believe that code had no gender or race. That "good code" was good code and talented developers would always succeed in the meritocracy of the tech industry. This talk tells the true story of how repeated experiences of sexual discrimination and harassment led me to hack my appearance by shaving my head to change the way I was perceived as a programmer. I will also share the lessons I have learned from my work as an advocate for racial and gender equity in tech and how you can apply them within your organizations and communities.

Alex Qin

June 20, 2019
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Transcript

  1. Shaving my head
    made me
    a better programmer @alexqin
    #ndcoslo

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  2. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  3. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  4. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  5. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  6. you had me at Hello, world!
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  7. you had me at Hello, world!
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  8. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  9. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  10. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  11. it felt like I was
    hyper visible
    and
    invisible
    at the same time
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  12. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  13. Prove it.
    Do you even know what the
    command line is?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  14. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  15. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  16. So…
    When are you going to
    fuck Alex?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  17. You are a programmer?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  18. Well not really…
    I am trying to become one…
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  19. the act of programming
    makes you
    a programmer
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  20. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  21. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  22. BE BETTER THAN ALL THE BOYS!
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  23. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  24. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  25. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  26. You are a programmer?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  27. You are a programmer?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  28. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  29. “He’s a really nice guy”
    1
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  30. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  31. Do you have a boyfriend?


    Do you like to dress sexy
    for him?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  32. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  33. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  34. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  35. “Don’t be so stuck up”
    2
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  36. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  37. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  38. “You have a lot of promise”
    3
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  39. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  40. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  41. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  42. “I don’t want to sleep alone”
    4
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  43. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  44. MagmaConf
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  45. “Women like the attention”
    5
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  46. Women exist to serve men.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  47. You look like a 

    mustard sandwich.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  48. Women like the attention.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  49. I would have to 

    lower the hiring bar.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  50. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  51. nowhere felt safe
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  52. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  53. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  54. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  55. why do
    I love code if
    code doesn’t love me
    back?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  56. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  57. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  58. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  59. MEET ALL THE WOMEN!
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  60. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  61. When I cut my hair short,
    I stopped getting
    sexually harassed
    at tech events.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  62. Become a
    BAD ASS programmer!
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  63. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  64. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  65. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  66. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  67. BAD ASS
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  68. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  69. How do
    I talk
    to women
    at bars?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  70. BAD ASS
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  71. NOPE
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  72. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  73. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  74. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  75. HACKER
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  76. I was no longer
    hyper sexualized
    and
    under skilled
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  77. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  78. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  79. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  80. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  81. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  82. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  83. HACKER
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  84. the tech industry
    is not
    a meritocracy
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  85. Cut your hair.
    Become a BAD ASS.
    Be more of a bitch.
    Learn to ignore it.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  86. Started quest to change tech
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  87. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  88. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  89. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  90. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  91. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  92. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  93. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  94. Blazon
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  95. Blazon
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  96. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  97. Madelyn
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  98. Technovation
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  99. GroGreen
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  100. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  101. GroGreen
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  102. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  103. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  104. With great power comes great
    responsibility
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  105. you shouldn’t have to 

    change who you are 

    to do what you love
    1.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  106. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  107. excellence in code
    can come from
    anyone
    2.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  108. Blazon
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  109. GroGreen
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  110. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  111. we need
    technologists
    from all backgrounds
    3.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  112. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  113. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  114. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  115. liberation
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  116. “I am not free while any woman 

    is unfree, even when her shackles 

    are very different from my own.” 

    - Audre Lorde
    “No one is free until we are all free” 

    - Martin Luther King, Jr.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  117. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  118. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  119. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  120. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  121. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  122. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  123. founder
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  124. founder director
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  125. founder director
    public speaker
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  126. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  127. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  128. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  129. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    party girl
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  130. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    party girl
    coding icon
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  131. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  132. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  133. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  134. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  135. trauma
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  136. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  137. burnout
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  138. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  139. divorce
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  140. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  141. rage
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  142. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  143. fear
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  144. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  145. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  146. suicidal
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  147. “I drove him, drove them all, 

    to be first, be bold, be perfect—be the greatest. 

    What I did not do was drive them 

    to be whole, to be free. ” 

    Casey Gerald
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  148. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  149. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  150. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  151. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  152. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  153. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  154. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  155. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  156. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  157. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  158. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  159. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  160. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    party girl
    coding icon
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  161. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    party girl
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  162. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    workaholic
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  163. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    BADASS
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  164. founder director
    public speaker
    social justice warrior
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  165. founder director
    public speaker
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  166. founder director
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  167. founder
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  168. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  169. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  170. accountable
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  171. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  172. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  173. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  174. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  175. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  176. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  177. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  178. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  179. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  180. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  181. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  182. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  183. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  184. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  185. the
    future
    is
    in
    the
    margins
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  186. How do I make my
    organization more 

    diverse?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  187. how do we heal?
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  188. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  189. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  190. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  191. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  192. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  193. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  194. fear
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  195. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  196. rage
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  197. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  198. powerless
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  199. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  200. social justice warrior
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  201. social justice warrior
    fuck the imperialist white supremacist
    capitalist patriarchy
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  202. “Hate cannot drive out hate;
    only love can do that.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  203. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  204. trauma
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  205. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  206. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  207. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  208. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  209. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  210. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  211. tech is not a meritocracy


    excellence in code can come from anyone
    we all deserve to 

    be here, be safe, and thrive 

    no matter what body we were born in
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  212. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  213. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  214. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  215. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  216. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  217. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  218. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  219. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  220. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  221. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  222. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  223. what if
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  224. what if
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  225. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  226. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  227. what if
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  228. what if
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  229. what if
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  230. “We heal ourselves, 

    and we heal in relationship, 

    and from that place, simultaneously, 

    we create more space for healed communities,
    healed movements, 

    healed worlds.” 

    adrienne maree brown
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  231. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  232. “At this point, we have all of the information
    we need to create a change; it isn’t a matter
    of facts. It’s a matter of longing, having the
    will to imagine and implement something
    else.” 

    adrienne maree brown
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  233. “Transform yourself to transform the world”


    Grace Lee Boggs
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  234. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  235. my liberation
    cannot come at the cost of
    harming others
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  236. @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  237. “Wage Love” 

    Charity Mahouna Hicks
    @alexqin .
    #ndcoslo .

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  238. @alexqin
    @codecooperative

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