NPTECH and Diversity

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Facilitated by Michelle Murrain, OpenIssue

What does "diversity" mean to open source software development? How diverse is the network of nonprofit developers? Should we pay more attention to it as NPTECH developers?

Session Notes

  • Go round

Reasons for coming, hilights

  • Interested in seeing more people of color in the space
  • My mother was an engineer, or an IT director
  • Being a part of a social justice movement
  • Want to hear different perspectives, age, race, gender, etc
  • The development circles I am in look very different from my social circles -- I want my development communities to reflect my everyday experience
  • Software codes value systems, and I want value systems that reflect my values

Open discussion

  • There's been a lot of chatter and conversations over the past year about calling people out about communities being unwelcome, either explicitly or implicitly
  • Open source communities and NP tech communities are different in terms of their welcomeness -- NP tech is generally more welcoming
  • Talking about Cotweet as an example of how embedding values of "not being an asshole" makes it really good
  • Software has morality -- when you use Apple API's you're using the API's of a company that uses 9 year olds to make phones, and when you use indie media's API's you're using anarchist API's and you can extend then
  • The personality of open source projects -- if women or people of color haven't been involved -- does this change the character or the flavor of the software and how welcoming it is to people
  • The issue of how people end up doing the work they're doing -- it does lend to the diversity of projects. My experience coming into Drupal was my experience as a graphic designer. Because of how I look people can trust me as somebody who hasn't been trained. If people saw me and said "you don't look like a developer" that would be much harder.
  • I'm totally DIY in a lot of of ways but I don't know HTML
  • Why don't we see more women in the space?
  • There are very few visible role models for young women... going through the school system young women are not exposed to technology
  • There are a few other issues (seen mostly in developing countries or poor people in the US). Many women had less access to education. Also, many women would use the "family" computer rather than their own computer so their opportunity to install Linux is diminished
  • Much of it is the culture of software development -- "lone wolf" and "hero complex" mentality -- giving up their lives to really dedicate themselves to one skill. Ability of men to give up a well-balanced life. In some projects, women sometimes drop off sooner because some men stick around because they're "proving something". It's a pattern. Perhaps women are less prone to participate in unhealthy situations.
  • Men also have the privilege to do this
  • What is Drupal doing right?
    • There's a Drupal checks group on that facilitates discussion between women. Drupal, because of the size of the community, maybe there's more women, but perhaps the proportions are not all that different
    • My experience of the Drupal community has been pretty negative.
    • There enough of all kinds of people in the Drupal community that the core community does not matter
    • THe first Drupal chick meetup in Boston felt really good. Webchick is super smart and also savvy about these kinds of social and political issues
    • Even talking about CSS using their vocal chords was pretty mind-blowing for me
  • I've never felt extremely comfortable with Linux chicks or Drupal chicks -- only those groups will get offended, and everybody else assumes the opposition has been voiced and acts as those women are "offended" -- I'd like the whole community to respond
  • My understanding of other communities vs Drupal, is that Drupal as a community gets together in person more often
  • I have a friend who I went to DrupalCon together with, and we do it more now, but it's hard to go alone to a random web meetup
  • The python community just went through a great process where they came up with a statement of diversity "the lack of diversity in the python community is a bug and we need to fix it"
    • Something happened after PyCon
  • These events of sexism aren't new, but there's more attention being drawn to them
  • "We have a tendency to hire our own image" -- so it propagated itself. As things have become more open, there's been more talk about it
  • There's a plus and a negative side to pornography -- pornography has driven technology innovation, but just because
  • Talking about a large software development team. It started as a 40 person dev team split 20/20 men/women, and as women left as the company moved toward a web company, women left, and after the team had 5,3,2,1 women, it became impossible to hire women
  • Back to Drupal, webchick started as Google Summer of Code.
  • In Joomla, many Google Summer of Code people were women, but they didn't contribute core code
  • Do you have to code to be considered a part of the community? Many women are involved as translation, documentation, design, etc.
  • In CiviCRM community, it's much better at valuing the different kinds of contributions
  • What are the entry ways and what are the ways that people are pulled in
  • joomla documenters who are women are not the ones who check things in, therefore not getting credit
  • are there as many troubles in brining in people of color/LBGT as women, general consensus from group yes
  • talk about usernames come into play, women choosing unisex usernames
  • Last year, this devsummit space was really isolating. Most of the communities I run in usually have explicit anti-oppression principles. When you're somebody coming into a space and you're not the norm of the community, you brace yourself for something, and that's a barrier to want to participate
  • I found a site that had a list of things you could to to include "everybody else" -- one thing was that you respect people's time committments (inclusive of people with families, who need to have a day job, etc). Think of the things that keep people from participating and removing those road-blocks.
  • An anecdote: there was a big release party for an open source software project, on the release party they recognized the partner of the main contributor for supporting him as he developed the software -- as a major contributor to the software project
  • Those of you who are hiring or trying to bring people on
  • We're hiring by having a "dating" process so we can suss out issues