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Tech Career Insights – Tall Poppy Syndrome

January 14 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

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"Tall Poppy Syndrome"

Marginalizing People of Color in the Name of Team Cohesion

Join us for a candid conversation about the impact of racial equity on high performance for Black and Latinx tech professionals and the importance of fostering a truly inclusive workplace.

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Tall poppy syndrome is a term coined by the Australians - a metaphor based on the way poppies grow and what happens when one poppy becomes taller and stands out from the rest: it gets cut down so all are on the same level. The devastating unfolding of one of AI Ethics’ premier ethicists, Timnit Gebru’s, abrupt exit from Google is a reminder of the risk Black and Brown people - particularly women - take when they start standing out and making strides in their positions or in their careers. In Gebru’s case, her contributions to combat bias embedded in AI helped to slow otherwise rapid advances in racial profiling and overall marginalization of Black and Brown people.

Less than 5% of the tech workforce is composed of Black and Brown professionals. Since racial equity has become a rising organizational imperative, the focus has been on increasing numbers and meaningfully creating safe spaces for people of color to thrive. How can organizations contribute to creating these spaces where Black and Brown tech professionals can join the team and don’t have to sacrifice their identity or sit in the shadows to exist? How can Black and Brown tech professionals effectively navigate organizations that are still in development to create these spaces? Finally, how can they become effective change agents that can galvanize a movement to open doors for others to come behind and thrive in these spaces?

During this session, Elizabeth Adams, MBA, an AI thought leader and global ambassador will share her experiences in tech and insights from the basic to specific challenges tied to “tall poppy syndrome.” We’ll discuss:

  • What is “tall poppy syndrome” in practice?
  • How does anyone navigate a work environment where you’re at risk of being undercut for standing out?
  • What are strategies so you can feel empowered to continue to foster a collaborative environment while continuing to stand out in your work?
  • What are strategies that preserve personal peace in the midst of a culture supporting “tall poppy syndrome?”


Elizabeth M. Adams is a Non-Resident Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity in partnership with the Digital Civil Society Lab and the Institute of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

Elizabeth is a technology integrator, working at the intersection of Cyber Security, AI Ethics and AI Governance, focused on Ethical Tech Design. She also passionately teaches, advises, consults, speaks and writes on the critical subjects within Diversity and Inclusion in Artificial Intelligence, such as racial bias in Facial Recognition Technology, Video/Data Surveillance, Predictive Analytics and Children’s Rights.

Elizabeth impacts the world around her every day having served as a member of Global Initiatives on the Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems helping to build global standards for AI Nudging & Emotion AI, and as an appointed member of the Racial Equity Community Advisory Committee for the City of Minneapolis influencing the local Civic Tech & Tech Design Racial Equity conversation and framework.

Over the last 20 years, she’s refined her leadership acumen in tech design by leading a variety of technology initiatives in the Washington D.C. metro area. Now back in her home state of Minnesota, she remains dedicated to embedding ethics and human-centricity in artificial intelligence systems and makes time to pursue her passion of writing children's books.



January 14
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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NY United States