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4A: Privilege, Diversity and Inclusion in communities and in open source


#1

Notes at Riseup Etherpad.


#2

It turns out that titles are case-sensitive, so I ended up taking notes separately, but that’s OK! https://pad.riseup.net/p/CLS-inclusion


#3

I think these notes will get deleted from the pads in 30 days, so let me paste them here (apologies for the loss of formatting):

NOTES FROM PRIVILEGE, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION DISCUSSION - #CLS14 (4A)
in communities and in open source

Attendance:
Jade
Julia @juliaem @datakind
Aria
Steph @stephrouth
Bethany @betalister / @NTENorg
Ivan @rootwork
Joe
Andi
Eric
Christina
Ashley
Dale @hollocherdale
Melissa
Monique
Britta
Bruce
Tom
Lucy

Opening suggestions:
Meritocracy vs. Diversity vs. Privilege
Have your friends invite developers of diverse backgrounds
if passing out t-shirts, have women’s sizes)
On tshirts: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/T-shirts
Conveniently accesible women’s bathrooms
Initial conditions matter a lot. You can’t tack on diversity after launch of a community (avoid tokenism)
Arranging event that includes child care, other accommodations
Reach out to student groups (that may have more diverse populations)
Encourage group sign-ups–help people feel safe
Offer incentives for group sign-ups (such as tshirts)
Make sure your site has pics of people other than just white men
Diverity training with role playing (assume a ‘misleading’ avatar so people might think you are female, or some different background)

We jumped into gender diversity and inclusion, but what are other aspects?

Mexican community – interested in including people from other countries

There’s a difference b/w “body” diversity vs. inclusion-- place the value on inclusivity to experiences
Age diversity – young participants can’t go to some events and older participants can have trouble transitioning into new communities

What causes exclusivity in the first place (that prevents diverse communities)?

How to value and quantify diversity beyond male/female?
Diversity is more than skin deep, so it can be hard to account for how diverse some thing is.

Let’s talk about universal access
physical access to space
Nice start for organizing events (nonprofit tech clubs): http://organizershandbook.wikispaces.com/Venue+Accessibility
WisCon has good stuff re: accessability: http://www.wiscon.info/access.php
to technology
to online communities
and in our choice of words; be more sensitive to the words that challenge able-ism

Why is diversity important/ How to make a case for diversity?:
work to create the best product
expand faster across all dimensions
privilege is insidious
we aren’t even aware of cultural differences when we step outside our borders
Women & Tech conference puts out “why diversity” studies;
Michael K.? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Kimmel gets men to identify with their masculinity in the way that people who are othered always think about their identities in context
NCWIT
http://www.ncwit.org/resources
Michael Kimmel: engaging men to think about gender, too, and challenging everyone to find benefit in “issues” that previously seemed to benefit specific groups:
http://www.ncwit.org/video/2014-ncwit-summit-plenary-ii-engaging-men-support-women-technology-stem-and-life-general
improving things for marginalized people generates the kind of change that improves things for everyone.
Instead of don’t do x— do y – diversity can enable a more proactive community
the value of diversity means to diverse definitions of success and perspectives on the problems that we’re solving
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/ [i.e. why talking about privilege is important]

Facilitation
How do we have an inclusive conversation? Often times it is whoever jumps in at the right time is who gets to talk, potentially excluding others.
Notice if a lot of the same people are speaking; notice who is not speaking (see “gatekeeper” role below)
Suggest guidelines for who gets to talk when
Roles! (facilitator, note-taker, timekeeper, gatekeeper, stack-taker)


http://cultivate.coop/wiki/Taking_Stack_(Meeting_Facilitation_Technique)
http://new.trainingforchange.org/meeting_facilitation
http://facilitation.aspirationtech.org/index.php?title=Facilitation:Facilitator_Guidelines
asking for pronouns in people’s introductions (instead of assuming)

Diversity in Open Source Communities
reward meritocracy; reward people who put in effort vs. people who accomplish work
meritocracy/do-ocracy masks privilege within community (who has time/resources to contribute?) and unacknowledged power structures (cf. second-wave feminism, “tyranny of structurelessness”)
Tyranny of Open http://satifice.com/octofice/2013/07/02/tyranny-of-open/
The Ethics of Unpaid Labor and the OSS Community http://www.ashedryden.com/blog/the-ethics-of-unpaid-labor-and-the-oss-community
Challenge: adopt a unusual name for the community and see how your conversations change
Rather than just “bring in” diversity, work on educating those in majority/priveleged http://adainitiative.org/what-we-do/workshops-and-training/

Privilege– Is it right to acknowledge you have privilege or better to focus on what you might not understand a/b the perspectives of others that gives you a balanced view of the world?

Good resource in general on this topic: The digital magazine Model View Culture: http://modelviewculture.com/ - “Technology, culture and diversity media” - next issue (probably coming out this week) is specifically on open source and diversity. Also see https://twitter.com/modelviewmedia or their weekly newsletter on “tech, culture and diversity”: http://modelviewculture.com/mailinglist

The issues of diversity benefit all-- create an inclusive conversation around issues rather than quotas

Do you need a Chief Cultural Officer? Diversity adds value.

Diversity Fails
diversity of clothing
diversity of venue and bathroom access

Takeaways:
Create a code of Conduct / Anti-harassment policy (great sample http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment)
Start by going to other events and building relationship (by focusing on their issues)
“meritocracy” and “do-ocracy” don’t eliminate issues of privilege and power; instead they reinforces them (privileged people are able to contribute more)
Valuing diversity means committing to evaluate yourself and your community – not just saying “we welcome everyone” but actively working to determine why some people are being excluded
In open-source communities, code is often valued above all other contributions - also see “The Startup Mythologies Trifecta” by Shanley Kane (the mythologies operate in OSS too): http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-startup-mythologies-trifecta
challenge your assumptions on a daily basis
create partnerships with groups that are winning at inclusion to increase diversity (or with non-profits that are explicitly working on increasing diversity) - start at the beginning with them and build in accountability, don’t just tack them on at the end

From a transportation advocacy wall, relevant to discussion: “Advocates and researchers are usually motivated by their own concerns and aspirations, and that current efforts to broaden the scope of who has access to advocacy are the best way to address this rather than mystical attempts to comprehend the motivations of x or y group.”

Discussion part two: Advanced diversity (“we will talk about more than just hiring more women! inclusivity! intersectional! race!!!”) - 3:00 PM Friday, 3C, Table #1 - https://twitter.com/capnleela/status/490227227070447617


#4

Jono commented about “inverting” the problem of diversity. I’m not totaly sure what his definition of inversion was, but I agree that it is important to look at the problem from the other end.

Instead of thinking “how can we get more of xyz group in our community,” it is important to talk about “how can our community change so that xyz group will naturally be part of it?”

A typical software example that always stands out is about getting more women to code.

Instead of trying to get more of women to complete a specific task, is it possible to expand the company/community to include more things to which women choose to contribute?

The reason why the former stragety concerns me is that you may not really be solving the diversty issue. If we are working in a “white male”   dominated industry and are simply reaching out to “recruit” diversity, then we risk of attracting non-white or non-male people who simply fit the white-male mould. i.e. I’m not interested in finding (not)white women who act like white men. Clearly this does not solve the issue of diversity. We don’t want more “different” people doing/being the same thing. We want to do different things with more types of people.

To invert this, we need to destroy the culture/perception of then industry from its roots and integrate communities (or aspects of communities) rather than trying to transplant people into the melting pot.


#5

I am really keen to find practical examples of things people can do to make people feel more welcomed in communities, and I think a great way of doing this to ask people what makes them feel unwelcome or uncomfortable about joining a community, and then we identify ways to prevent that from happening. :smile:

Right. I think the key here is about how do we optimize people for success and then how do we celebrate those successes to demonstrate that success can be achieved, irrespective of gender, race, (dis)ability, or other attributes.

I believe if we build an environment that optimizes for community success, diversity will naturally flow.

As I said in the session, I prefer to take an empowered approach (“here are things to expand and broaden our horizons”) as opposed to a critical approach (“these are the things that are wrong and we need to create rules to fix them”).

I have always believed that we change the world more effectively by empowering people to take a wider and longer view of their surroundings rather than give them a checklist of words, phrases, and behaviors that are unacceptable and then police those actions. This is why I think harassment policies serve a limited use…the kind of people who will violate those standards of conduct are (a) unlikely to read them in the first place, and (b) most likely ignore them.

I instead want to help people understand why we should engage respectfully with each other, so the document does not define the behavior…but the understanding of people defines the behavior.

I think we do this by encouraging great conduct and rewarding that conduct. Of course, we should not tolerate unacceptable behavior, but all to often I feel some discussions of diversity come from the defining-lists-of-rules approach as opposed to empowering people to be better people.

Just my $0.02.


#6

The reason why the former stragety concerns me is that you may not really be solving the diversty issue. If we are working in a “white male” dominated industry and are simply reaching out to “recruit” diversity, then we risk of attracting non-white or non-male people who simply fit the white-male mould. i.e. I’m not interested in finding (not)white women who act like white men. Clearly this does not solve the issue of diversity. We don’t want more “different” people doing/being the same thing. We want to do different things with more types of people.

This is a great point.


#7

I think a great way of doing this to ask people what makes them feel unwelcome or uncomfortable about joining a community, and then we identify ways to prevent that from happening.

People are already saying this. Women are saying this. People of color are saying this. White men don’t need to ask them, they need to listen to what they’re already saying.

I believe if we build an environment that optimizes for community success, diversity will naturally flow.

I think this masks the structural prejudices (sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia) that exist in society. “Optimizing” for “success” will be defined by the people who already have power and are already recognized as experts.

Commitment to diversity takes more than “being welcoming,” it takes actively attacking the systems of oppression that operate in all communities because they exist throughout our society.

I have always believed that we change the world more effectively by empowering people to take a wider and longer view of their surroundings rather than give them a checklist of words, phrases, and behaviors that are unacceptable and then police those actions.

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” --Dr. King

With acknowledgement of the gendered language there, I think his point is a good one. There is bigger, deeper work than just rule-making. But there are basic codes of conduct or standards of behavior that are necessary to recognize each other’s humanity.

Women get physically attacked at tech conferences. Imagining that we can just ask people to “take a longer view” without specifically removing people who present physical violence toward others will continue to put women at risk.

Of course, we should not tolerate unacceptable behavior, but all to often I feel some discussions of diversity come from the defining-lists-of-rules approach as opposed to empowering people to be better people.

I feel uncomfortable with someone who is positioned as an expert in community management and who publicly expresses disbelief in the existence of privilege.


#8

I am not suggesting we mask the issues you describe here, I am suggesting that I think there are multiple ways to challenge them. We should never tolerate unacceptable behavior, but I think we also need to help people to develop more open minds. I think this is best achieved with a carrot and stick as opposed to just the stick.

Agreed, but it also needs to be more than just identifying a set of rules to define to maintain diversity too. We need both approaches.

That isn’t what I said. I made it quite clear that we should never tolerate unacceptable behavior, and violence against anyone is clearly unacceptable.

I never expressed disbelief in the existence of privilege. What I said was that I think the best way of combating the undue influence of privilege is to help those with privilege have a wider view of the world.

Let me give you an example. One of the most tremendous lessons I learned in this area was from Karen Sandler (formerly of the GNOME Foundation) who once shared her view that people who think they can understand the challenges of a different demographic (gender, race, sexuality) will never truly understand it as they don’t experience it directly.

Back then I thought I understood the challenges of being a woman in technology but Karen’s insight changed my world-view. She taught me that I have an “idea” or an “informed inkling” of what the challenges are, but I really don’t know what it feels like to walk in those shoes.

Now here’s my point: she shared this wisdom with me as a way to enrich my world-view and perspective. She didn’t tell me I have privilege and therefore I don’t understand the challenges of women in technology. She knew I am a person with privilege (as a white, hetero, dude) and she shared something that helped me to be a better person and to have a broader understanding.

This is a subtle, but important point. The way in which she imparted the information empowered me to understand as opposed to lecturing me to understand. This makes all the difference (in my humble opinion).

We all know privilege exists and is a problem. I am not denying that. I just believe that one tool in our armory is to empower those to have this wider view as I believe it will build a desire to learn more and share those experience more widely too.


#9

Ooh, this is a very interesting thread. Only just spotted it!

The OSS issue came out now. I was lucky enough to be able to write one of the pieces:

I guess the summary of my argument is that many open source communities are hobbled by this centring of white male culture and coding as the primary contribution type. Indeed, people often perform their whiteness, maleness, etc. through these activities. Which is why you see so much pushback against diversity efforts. It’s not that people dislike the idea of diversity itself (though I suppose some might) but rather, what we see happening in our communities is boundary policing and the protection of identity integrity. But we need to get past that if we want to change anything. (Recognising non-code contributions is a good first start. Documenting culture through codes of conduct, diversity statements, etc. is another easy thing to do, as it can reduce the acceptability of performative masculinity, whiteness, etc.)

This is a topic I care about a lot. And it’s the focus of much of my work on the OSS projects I’m involved in, though I didn’t get to speak about that experience. Feel free to ask my anything here.

Highly recommend all the other pieces in MVC!


#10

I’m curious to hear opinions on how this plays out in OSS subcommunities, such as technical writers. Based on what I’ve seen, the issues may be different in some sub-groups.


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