Several members of our editorial staff have tried out Clubhouse, the newest social media site that’s been gaining traction. Clubhouse is more LinkedIn than Instagram, with more appeal to corporate types and more professional profile pictures. You have to use your real name, and people can only join invited by an existing member. Currently, the app is only available for iPhones — a way of limiting its early growth, I’m told.
But what is it? The best way I can describe Clubhouse is that it’s a cross between talk radio and a TED Talk. It’s audio only, and if you miss something, you can’t listen to it the next day. You can join in on any open room — topics might be entrepreneurship for women or luxury travel trends or hiring practices. You’ll be placed in the audience, where you can hear all those on stage: the speakers and moderator. If you “raise your hand” via a button, they can invite you on stage, where you can turn your audio on and ask a question or contribute a comment.
After a few days on the app, I was unsure what to think. There was a lot of good information, but also a lot of noise. Was it worth sticking with?
Then our editorial staff decided to try hosting a room of our own. And it was incredible! We had a vigorous discussion on “diversity in engineering” through the Women in STEM club. It turned into an almost two-hour discussion where female engineers described microaggressions they’ve endured in the workplace or talked about how they’ve moved into recruiting to help bring more balance to engineering organizations.
We learned about the power of three for groups, where studies have shown that the dynamic in a group doesn’t truly shift until there’s a third member of a minority present. One Black female engineer explained how it’s mentally taxing to keep educating people about issues that minorities face. Is it her job to educate on diversity or is it the company’s? She didn’t want to continually have to reexplain what the issues are. “We need allies from other spaces,” she said.
One woman told our staff, “It’s not about the number, it’s about being inclusive. Diversity is the first step toward equality, and equality is the goal.”
That gives me hope for Clubhouse. None of this is noise — we learned so much about engineers’ lived experiences and what they struggle with in their professional lives. I’m grateful to have been a part of the conversation. We’ll be hosting more rooms on different engineering topics on Clubhouse in the future. If you decide to join the platform, please follow me at @paulheney — it would be nice to connect.