A more diverse team has a better chance of coming up with innovative ideas and making your company more adaptable. Diversity needs to be made and maintained.


First of all, you should aim for a diverse engineering team because it is the RIGHT THING to do.

The path to becoming an engineer is not an equitable one. There is a good amount of white/male privilege that results in an overrepresentation of white/male engineers. You will have to put in some additional effort not to end up with a homogenous workforce. Just as those without privilege have made additional efforts into becoming an engineer. If you have the opportunity to make the playing field a little more level by offering scholarships or early educational opportunities and paid internships than please do so. Beyond helping society as a whole, most likely your company will benefit from this diversity infusion.

But you should also establish diversity to improve the QUALITY of work.

There are some famous misses in technology due to lack of diversity in the engineering team: coloured humans that are not recognised as easily by cameras and humans with breasts that are not accurately recognised by pose estimation software. Too many products are designed by and for a default white male option and this will continue to be so unless we deliberately change it. Gender blind technology is “any tech solution that has been created without analysing how a product might affect men and women differently “[source] and our world is filled with it. This ignores an amazing sphere of opportunity for innovation.

Now that AI and ML are becoming more prevalent, algorithmic bias also becomes more relevant. Algorithmic biases arise during the framing of the problem, during collecting of training data and in determining which variables you tell the algorithm to look at. All these steps in the AI / ML process are heavily influenced by human choice. Such choices include our unconscious biases. These biases are the established views that we do not notice in ourselves. The trouble of having a homogenous team is that the biases we do not notice in ourselves we will also not notice in a similar other. Diversity will show up everyone’s biases. 

Group think is a common problem in teams that stands in the way of innovation and adaptation. Group norms, behaviours and thoughts become self-affirming as they circle around in a group of likeminded individuals. Especially well-performing homogenous teams continuously strengthen their own group norms. Often above that of the company and civilised society. Cheating and bullying behaviour arise and are accepted. Teams in the grasp of group think do not take well to any change in their behaviour (less adaptation) and are not open to outside ideas (less innovation). Diversity can be a built-in mechanism against the whirlpool of group think.

And if you intend to operate internationally, a diverse team will also help you get beyond your national biases (of which you are likely unaware). Work cultures are very different around the world. This may seem obvious as a European company working with Asian companies, but we often already don’t understand a neighbouring country as much as we think.


Hiring practises are an obvious place to establish diversity: set your gender target 50/50, give bonus points for different cultural backgrounds and other aspects not currently present in your team of engineers. Consider how and where you do your recruiting and how you might reach potential candidates that you are currently lacking. Set a company-wide diversity quota, offer paid learning opportunities, support remote work or flexible work hours and provide benefits that apply to both genders.

You can start with your current engineering team by running a culture session. An open discussion of what the team culture is and what everyone wants it to be. Write down what is currently accepted behaviour and what is expected within the team. Discuss the process and consequences when desired behaviour is broken. This formalises the team culture.  When you first do this, you might see an increase in transgressions when culture-rules have been established because breaking them will be more obvious to everyone. Handling this is an opportunity to grow as a team and experience that pointing out differences is a learning opportunity. Smoothing the path for having a diverse team in which biases can be uncovered and inspected and different considerations are appreciated. When the diversity of a team changes (or has remained unchanged for a very long time) it is often valuable to run a new culture session.

Once you have a diverse team you want to keep them and for this you need to invest. Particularly on psychological safety so that the differences that exist in a diverse team can be openly discussed and valued as an asset, instead of becoming undercurrents of annoyance. To know the state of your team you must measure and attach interventions to the results where necessary.

Many of the things that improve diversity on paper, in practice only work when they are owned and lived. Perhaps at first by the founder, HR and management team and eventually by the entire company. Openly display the behaviour you want to establish. Cultural sensitivity can be learned and awareness of and reflection on our own biases should be standard practice in HR. Openness and transparency in management sets the tone for openness throughout the company. Model the appropriate cultural rules. Call out incorrect behaviour and openly reflect on your own behaviours and underlying biases. Challenge your peers.

To experience all of the benefits and minimal drawbacks of a diverse engineering team there has to be an environment of real appreciation of the differences brought to the bench.

Why diversity matters in STEM [source]

1. Different approaches to a problem are often key in solving them. People from different backgrounds often approach work and problem solving differently.

2. White men do not make for better engineers. There is the same potential for engineering greatness in any other human classification. This potential is not being realized.

3. If you are to avoid worker shortages, you should not ignore most of potential work pool by focusing on one category.

written for Elektor HR special in 2022

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Solarpunk de Buurt

Kom zondag 5 november naar Solarpunk de Buurt workshop in de Kas Keerweer

We duiken samen in de eco-sociale utopia van SOLARPUNK met voorbeelden en verhalen. We bespreken de principes van een solarpunk toekomst en fantaseren over hoe onze buurt eruit zou zien. Iedereen maakt een eigen stukje van deze toekomst door deze te schrijven/tekenen/schilderen/knipselen.

Met dank aan Buurtbudget deelname is gratis & aanmelden via

update: toot met gemaakt werk expositie van dit werk in OBA Mercatorplein tot 15 november en daarna in OBA De Hallen tot 31 december

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Solarpunk XR workshop

Together with the Extinction Rebellion circle Regenerative Culture, I am organising a Solarpunk the Future workshop

Time: Saturday 28 october 13.00-17.00 uur

Location: Greenpeace Loods. Exact details via e-mail.

Registration (max. 20 people) and more info:

We will get together and dive into what solarpunk is, sharing some examples and discussing the main priniciples, before imagening what a solapunk future would look like for ourselves and our community. Then we will all create a snippet of our solarpunk future by writing/drawing/painting/collaging it.

This workshop is an afternoon of communal imagening, spending time in a utopian future and finding comfort, joy and active hope by being in a tomorrow to aim for.

The workshop will be in English, free to join and open to everyone. Hope to see you there!

update: toot with the snippets we made

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Solarpunk for engineers

A Brighter Future Ahead

There is a socially fair and bright green future that embraces technology. A fantasy that you can aspire too with all of the making and none of the guilt.

Sometimes it might seem like all is bleak, especially in hardware design and manufacturing. Many of the fantastic solutions we engineer are made with unethical materials and used to uphold a system that is lacking in meaning and threatening our very lives.
Changing these things seems beyond our control. In these trying times, it is important to imagine a future we actually want. We could really use an inspired future where your soldering iron can be a tool for good.


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Climate Calling Engineers

Move Fast and Fix Things
The sixth synthesis report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear: “Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming.” What are we going to do about it?

The sixth synthesis report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the collective scientific wisdom on climate change and how to fix it. They inform the UN. The main message of their latest report has hope: “There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, and they are available now, but currently, we are not applying the technical solutions we have with enough vigour, scale or speed.

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White Rabbit into White Rabbit

A recording of me singing White rabbit (Jefferson Airplane) patched into our White Rabbit deep spatial effects module. We made the White Rabbit in creative collaboration with Error Instruments

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