A community of technology community managers, leaders, and builders.

Access, Inclusion, Cognitive Bias, Norms


I’m interested in sharing and discussing how community leaders create welcoming communities that have a sense of team identity and culture, while also being inclusive to diverse audiences, especially those typically less represented in the field. eg, for a tech community, being especially welcoming to women and people of color.

Please add comments with discussion topics and session structure ideas. Let’s see what we have and then we can make at least one focussed session.


Here are some topic ideas on my mind right now:

  1. Word choice as it relates to cognitive bias, particularly when it comes to words that many consider acceptable slang (eg the use of “guys” in tech arenas or when referring to ops people) or sufficiently general (eg the use of “citizen” in Code For America messaging).

  2. How to navigate/integrate between specific and general groups, eg a women’s employee resource group within a company, or pyladies and the larger python community. A big part of this is how to make people care, especially when most groups have explicit missions that have nothing to do with the diversity of its members.
    PS - If someone knows enough about pycon to give some historical context and lessons learned / tips, that would be awesome. I don’t know much except that 30% of the recent pycon speakers were female, and there seems to be years of sustained effort in this direction.

  3. Best practices for speaking-up about non-inclusive behavior and phrasing, including developing the courage and handling/preventing defensive reactions.


Wonderful topic for a session, @lucy!

Your suggestions sound valuable, but I would also like to also discuss how we get the balance between inclusion and free-form discussion.

As an example, there are some communities that are very sensitive to particular words, terms, phrases, gestures, styles, and other attributes for fear that they exclude people, but the policing of those attributes can sometimes be managed in somewhat sup-optimal ways.

While the spirit of inclusiveness is admirable, sometimes the way it is handled can actually act as a deterrent in which participants feel like they are walking around on eggshells for fear of saying something and causing offense. I have seen many good people leave communities for such reasons.

It would be great if we could provide some recommendations for how people encourage inclusiveness but also manage it in an optimal way.


Jono, I dig this. How does this sound as a clear statement of session intent:

 How to add intentional word choice to a community without throwing eggshells on the floor?



Another possible way of describing the session coud be:

How to create diversity in a community without tantrums or eggshells.



Describing other people’s concerns as “tantrums” in the title may be setting us up for a combative (less productive) conversation. How about we assume best intentions and choose something like “Proactively Building More Inclusive Communities?”

Then we might focus on things that have been effective at PyCon like: individually encouraging women to send in talks, travel funding for under-represented groups, offering booth space to orgs that reach out to under-represented groups, having t-shirts for women and facilitating different kinds of social events.


Good point! Probably best for us to remove that. :slight_smile:


+1. I’d love to share what we’ve been doing around inclusiveness at Meteor and compare notes on what other folks are doing for diversity among under-represented demographics.

Word choice is definitely in the basket of low-hanging fruit, alongside other super simple checklist type stuff (e.g., snack options for most common dietary restrictions, equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages (for <21 event attendees), shirts in women’s sizes, having directions to the women’s restroom).

One M.O. that we pass onto each new community team member is distinguishing between leading by positive example and policing against negativity – that both are necessary, but pushing the gas pedal on the former (e.g., X is what we strive for!) takes a lot of pressure off the latter.


Here are notes from our session on diversity & inclusion: https://pad.riseup.net/p/CLS-inclusion

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!