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The Cognitive Diversity Issue in UX

Season 2, Ep. 34

Ep #34: Today’s episode is a conversation with Melanie Polkosky who is a UX Psychologist with a PhD in cognitive psychology and a long history in tech. After Melanie left a 13-year career at IBM, she wrote a book called Uncovering Truffles, a book about the scarcity and value of Women in Stem. And something she wrote about in her book stood out to me as really relevant to many people UX, across genders. In researching her book, Melanie found that certain cognitive styles can make it more difficult to get ahead in tech and leadership, and that contributes to holding many women back in STEM fields.


And here’s the interesting connection to UX. Thinking styles that are more thoughtful, observational, perhaps more empathetic... the people with these cognitive styles can have a hard time fitting into tech teams, and in leadership roles especially. And, ironically, these cognitive styles — largely intuitive, an interest in people and behavior, and highly empathetic, are a common denominator in the discipline of UX, as I mentioned, across genders. So that’s what we’re digging into today - what can someone do if they find themselves in this place - a place where they feel like to they don’t fit in, or they feel undervalued or misunderstood? Fortunately for us, Melanie has great experience and some great advice.


Melanie is a social-cognitive psychologist, a UX executive, and an author. She has deep expertise in speech technology, artificial intelligence and mixed method user research. She also holds the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential from the International Coach Federation. Her coaching practice focuses on career and life coaching. Currently, Melanie leads design and UX as the SVP Customer Experience at Sweepr. 


Follow Melanie on Quora: Early Career UX


Buy Melanie's book

Uncovering Truffles: The Scarcity and Value of Women in STEM


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