Diversity Matters

This blog post was intended to be a recap of DrupalCamp Munich. It was a very well organized conference but the event was overshadowed by an intense discussion about diversity. This is why I want to focus this blog post on the learnings and takeaways from Munich regarding diversity at Drupal community events.

Setting the scene

On the day before DrupalCamp Munich, a discussion about diversity came up on Twitter and at the sprints venue where organizers were working hard on preparing for the conference. There were two related sources leading to the discussion. First of all, as Ekes pointed out via Twitter - out of 47 speakers there was only 1 woman on the agenda (2%). This is already saddening but the big attention came to happen when Twitter found out that copies of a men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine were about to be handed out to participants as part of the goodie bags.

The initial responses by the organization team were defensive rather than acknowledging the problem, basically stating that the event team can’t fix the problem of there not being enough female speakers at the conference. After a while penyaskito cancelled his session: he wouldn’t because of the two issues but mainly the lack of action and communication around them. By the end of the day, the DrupalCamp team published an official statement of apology.

Thinking about the facts

I’m glad to see that the issues have been taken seriously. Obviously there was a different perception of the severity of the problem. From my personal experience, bringing in diversity into tech events is a challenge, especially when they are organized by teams that aren’t diverse in the first place.

But if we look at the data, we can see that DrupalCon New Orleans (19% female and 81% male), DrupalCon Dublin: (17% female, 82% male) had quite similar ratios. Even though they still have a long way to go to improve this, they’re better than what we accomplished for DrupalCamp Vienna (13.6% female and 86.4% male). With DrupalCamp Munich only achieving 2% female speakers, I think this is a very alarming sign that we have to react upon and therefore support the call for action very much.

Everything back to normal?

The discussions were quite heated, especially on Twitter. Special thanks to Jeffrey “jam” McGuire for following up with a blog post on “Empathy, diversity, and open source”. Aside from agreeing on the problem, Jam acknowledged the hard work and best intentions of the local team to host a good conference. I think it is important to see & hear both sides of the conversation and from there continue the discussion.

Diversity BoF at DrupalCamp Munich

And this happened through lots of talks - both online and onsite at the camp. On Saturday evening, we had a big “Diversity Matters” BoF. 7 women and 48 men discussed the issues with live notes taken.

Some of the important takeaways from the discussion for me where:

  • Diversity needs to be looked at on all levels.
  • Providing safe spaces is needed to support minorities in joining a community.
  • A code of conduct is a good foundation but needs to be lived.
  • We need to listen to the views of others before defending our own viewpoints.

Where can I get more help with this?

We are not alone in this. To figure out how to get better diversity at Drupal events in Europe, we can look at role models and the support they provide by leading by example.

JSConf for example, has documented how they reached 25% women speakers already in 2012. Their call for speakers highlights how they offer support to attendees to become confident about their wish to speak. They also embrace an anonymous submission process. If you want to find out more, you can check out “We Are All Awesome” for some great materials for both speakers and curators.

In Drupal, Ashe Dryden’s session from DrupalCon Portland provides a good overview of why diversity matters. If you want to help or join the discussion: Drupal Diversity is a working group discussing diversity & inclusion in Drupal and web development. They have extensive resources on why we should care and what we can do to improve diversity. On the Drupal slack, find us in the #diversity-inclusion channel with more than 100 members already. Also the Drupal Community Working Group is working on a response to the happenings. You can also follow them via Twitter.

What did I learn?

Since I joined the Drupal community, diversity has been important to me. One of the reasons why I joined Amazee was that I was looking for a more diverse team to work with. Working with a diverse team is still a privilege in our industry and I would like to see a bigger movement towards getting better diversity across the whole industry.

The recent incidents have made it clear to me that this needs to go further though. It’s not enough to simply say “we want more diversity”. We need to look at diversity as a common goal and everyone of us need to make more effort in order to achieve it.

The DrupalCon Baltimore call for sessions just started and shows a clear effort to inclusivity. Optionally, speakers can identify with underrepresented communities to help the session selection team ensure better diversity in the program. Also read their blog post about setting diversity as a DrupalCon goal.

As part of the Drupal Mountain Camp team, this discussion has inspired us to focus more on diversity. We agreed to think about it on all levels:

  • Promote diversity and the code of conduct on all levels of the event.
  • Set and communicate diversity as a goal for the session selection process.
  • Actively encourage diverse speakers to attend.
  • Offer support to speakers via coaching & mentoring.
  • Provide a safe and healthy environment for all attendees.
  • Educate ourselves as event organizers by reading materials stated above.

I’m looking forward to strive towards this goal for more diversity in Drupal.

December 8, 2016

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Thanks Josef for your great writeup on this matter and how it was an important topic of the DrupalCamp Munich (which i agree was smoothly organized in all other areas).

While this writeup is spot-on, it and also the "Diversity matters" BoF and many of the informal discussions the Munich camp made room for leave the big challenge unanswered: How do we reliably improve diversity (and not only talk about doing so)? And, even more basic: How can we as a greater community have _any_ impact _at all_ on this broader social issue?

The action steps and executive summaries of those discussions and of this write-up contain good learning (e.g. many don't dare to propose a session because they think they can't really make a contribution in terms of level or topic); but they also are quite … well, either inconsistent or incomplete or imprecise on those core questions. For example: We said it looks like it's important to "provide safe spaces" for minorities (sounds good on it's own, needs to be fleshed out), while e.g. the write-up's declared role model of JSConf'2012 states that "you need to avoid treating them in a special way." This is only one example of how we a) are not nailing it by either missing some pieces or being imprecise and b) don't really know what to do because c) we are simply missing data and expertise on those matters.

I'd like to know (as we all do): What measures really foster diversity in a community like ours (global, distributed, special-interest, heterogenous in some dimensions, too homogenous in others)? Currently, we simply lack that data. Is it out there?
How can we get it, and get in more expertise on diversity?

Let's of course start with what we currently see as decent steps, like provide safe spaces, offering encouragement and mentoring, and – probably most important – actively reaching out to minorities, including e.g. refugees (like undpaul did and told us about in their inspiring session given by Anja and their new Iranian employee).

And while we start with something let's try to get reliable _data_ in.

By Daniel
2 months ago

This positive discrimination "because of" (get what you want) is bullshit. It is cancer of world society in my eyes.

If you have 3 sessions proposals but only 2 slots which should be taken? You have 2x great quality session of white heterosexuals and 1x totally poor by black transsexual and then you will decide for that poor one only because of diversity?
Will you hire some woman only because she is woman? Hire her for her quality and skills and not because of vagina. Simply we are different. People are not all same for a very very long time on this planet. It is normal thing that we have less women in IT or politics than men. Simply they are not so interested in that. Should we be politically correct and have half of women in team in case of miners? Should we be politically correct and have half of mem as nurses? Even when women simply have better skills for that?

I think that quality matters. I think that religion, sexual orientation, sex and others should not matter in decisions - on both directions: negative but positive too.

I am not (as mainstream says) rasist or xenophobe. I just prefer judging based on quality, skills and knowledge.

In fact i am partially disabled but i never wanted some advantage in terms of my work(ok it is really fine to get seat in bus because of that but i never ask for that). I know to code or i can do not know to code. Most of my customers simply do not know that because of remote. Should i say them: give me job because i am handicapped. Or should i say them: give me job because i have these and these skills and references? Sorry, i prefer skills and results and my customers too.

By Not important
2 months ago

This is exactly what is wrong with everything. "Even when women simply have better skills for that?" People like you presuming that men are simply better qualified for a job or women simply better qualified for another. This simply creates unequal chances and (even if it's unintentionally) unequal judgement of the quality their work + the capability of what they can achieve.

By Lisa
2 months ago

Sorry for not excellent english. Maybe better could be "assumptions" or "prerequisites" than "skills". Simple look at schools: how many girls WANT to go to school for car mechanics? And how many boys WANT to go to school for nurses? They CAN. There are no obstacles. But there are some things which came from NATURE. Simply women are more oriented to family and other stuff. Nobody makes any obstacles at these times. I know about only one boy "nurse". Simply he loves his job. He can do it. Without any discrimination. But generally it is job which mostly WANT to do girls. Imagine woman as car mechanics - all guys in city will prefer her over others :-)
I know about only few female programmers. They can do that because they want and they like technics, playing PC games, drones are interesting thing for them. I know many car mechanicals, carpenters and so - but no woman there(is that discrimination?).

I am programmer. I can't imagine doing nurse. I love technics. My wife is nurse. She loves that kind of being (it is not only job). Computer is hell's device for her. I think this is majority. It is ok.
If any girl/woman WANT to be programmer then she CAN. Nobody makes any problems about that. Ask anybody for job. Me personally will not ask you if you are girl, christian, vegan or other. I will ask you: and what are your skills? How can you help to our organisation? It is EQUAL.

Any girl can go to IT university. Any girl can go to mechanical engineering faculty. When i was there ten years ago we had 2 girls in class of 30. They were not discriminated. They were great essence of group. Why only 2? Because it comes from their own mind, from some nature aspects of difference between man and woman. It is not "programmer is BETTER than nurse". It is "programmer is DIFFERENT to nurse".

Mostly everybody have full access to all knowledge in the world. If you are woman and you want be programmer you can simply learn it with youtube, laracasts, lullabot etc. I think nobody(at least in drupal community) will ever rate you by your sex. Everybody will ask you for skills, for talent, for a will to learn things, for a will to help others.

I know, my opinion is not modern at these times.

By Not important
2 months ago

What you are referring as "nature" is actually culture, that is constantly changing - not any kind of constant force. As an example: Red used to be "manly" colour some 400 years ago, now it is much more often regarded as "female" colour - at least where I live.

In our community it also means we can change our culture as we see fit. Diversity is a leadership question, an attitude, and lots of small and big decisions. Transforming a community to be more diverse is slow and there are always some people who do not see the benefit of it.

However, even purely from the perspective of resourcing everything, it is better to be inclusive (and perhaps loose some other people along with that).

By Perttu Ehn @ropsue
2 months ago

Well, "not important", I'm sure that I don't really qualify in your mind to have an opinion but...

There is a problem in our industry where way too many people have a view where women make better nurses and men make better technologists. The huge irony is that the instruction pipelining that makes your laptop fast was invented by a woman, many of the high level language concepts you are using on a daily basis were invented by women and the processor inside the phone you are using to check updates on Twitter etc was developed by a (transsexual, as it happens) woman. Without women technologists, your job doesn't exist. Too many people are not seeing these diverse role models and so end up with views such as your own.

Diversity in our community matters, not just because it makes for a more vibrant and interesting community, but because we are working for our customers and - guess what - they are diverse...

Yes, we may need to positively discriminate in order to reset those role models. That's a change management model that has been proven to work in other industries already. As you are all about delivering the best outcome, surely you'd want us to be using the proven ways to achieve that?

Now, I'd like to think that the talks I have submitted to DrupalCon will be chosen because they are interesting talks but, if there are some of equal standing and mine gets chosen because I'm a gay trans woman, then so be it. If it gets more of us on stage being fabulous and opening minds; fine, I can cope with that.

By Rachel @rachel_norfolk
2 months ago

"high level language concepts you are using on a daily basis were invented by women"

You falsely spread a few weeks ago that SmallTalk was invented by a woman, when it in fact was designed by a team of individuals and implemented by a team. Stop muddying the waters with half truths.

"we may need to positively discriminate"

No, you can't have it both ways. You can't point fingers at people saying they're discriminating, but then allow openings in which cases it's okay to discriminate.

By Not Important
2 months ago

My apologies, in the small space I had available, I should have said that, as manager of the System Concepts Laboratory at PARC; she, Alan Kay, and others developed Smalltalk.

By Rachel
2 months ago

Hi "not imporatnt". I've been a track chair for DrupalCons and DrupalCamps for multiple years and selected hundreds of sessions from thousand of submissions. In my experience the example you mention here "have 3 sessions proposals but only 2 slots" just does not reflect the real world. If you end up in such an situation as a conference organiser you have much bigger problems than diversity and probably should think about not doing the event at all.
In my experience you have many more sessions to choose then slots, which means you already have a hard time too choose which one is the right one. Plus you do not know which sessions are "great" and which one are "poor" in advantage, you can read the session description and look at the experience of the speakers, but I've seen great speakers giving horrible sessions and vice versa.
So I'm sorry, your "simple example" is very very wrong, because you never have all the informations you would like to have.
A good real life example would be: You have 10 slots and around 50 session proposals. 95% if the session proposals are white-male and 5% of non-white-male. I think yes it's perfectly fine to give only 70% slots to the white-male and 30% to the non-white-male (or in a 80/20 % ratio, whatever you and the organisers team decide).

I can explain you more on how these things work, also in related to hiring. It's very similar there. If you like to talk about it, feel free to send me a mail at michael@amazee.com.

By Michael
2 months ago

What i wanted to say: if you have to decide for proposals you do not judge by male/female, skin colour, vegan or others. At least i believe in that. You judge by quality (ok even if only by expected quality) of session. When I visit any conference I do not see in program how speaker looks like. I see title of sessions and i decide by my interests only. Same with hiring(i did it some time): show me your code(or other skills needed to that position). I do not want to see your photo, i do not want to know your religion, skin or other. That was my point.

By Not important
2 months ago

Did you review completely anonymised job applications with names removed? Otherwise you'll be making assumptions on name as to gender/racial background even if you don't intend to.

By catch
2 months ago

So, if a white guy and a black guy submits a session, the black guy has better chances of being selected because of his skin color? And then the white guy who does not get selected should feel ok and not discriminated against because there are already lots of white sessions, as if his intention was not to get his own, personal session out, but instead make sure that his race survives in the session selection? Or should discrimination against you be ok because you belong to a majority in some particular context?

I'm all against discrimination and i know you have good and right intentions but this approach feels discriminating to both majorities and minorities. I'm not trying to blame you, this is a really hard subject and I wish i(or anyone) knew the ultimate solution. In the meanwhile, it's great to know you are taking these things into consideration even if i disagree with this particular remedy.

By No guts to tell because fear of public shaming ok'd by the community.
1 month ago

Solving bias and prejudice in the example of session selection is fairly easy (e.g. via anonymized session selection).
Solving bias and prejudice in daily social interaction is a problem on society scale, that we should definitely aim to improve in our realms of community, organisations and individuals, but that we can't solve on our own.
The problem that is hard but solvable in our community realm though is: How can we attract community-minorities? We've been very busy making assumptions on suitable action steps during the camp ('provide safe spaces') without acknowledging that we lack reliable data on the effectiveness of our assumption, which are themselves limited by biases and prejudice held by us as well as individuals in the community-minorities we try to attract (e.g. 'am i welcome there and treated unbiased?').

Having this discussion is btw the most important first step.

By Daniel
2 months ago

How I (male, white, middle age, heterosexual, European) see the lack of diversity being an issue can be divided in two parts, which both of them are important in different ways.

First and foremost human culture - pretty much everywhere - prefers males over females, promotes experience even when it is not needed and shuns people who do not fit in the "norm". Every culture is blind to the bias it has. In my personal opinion this is wrong, because it treas otherwise equal peopel differently for no valid reason. It also discourages equally skilled people who just do not fit the "norm" to contribute fully. In practise this means, that because the clear majority of presenters in (Drupal) events are male, there are not that many role models for "other kind" of people. It means we're not encouraging all people to contribute (deliver sessions, code, whatever), but only a subset of them.

Second reason is fully related to this effect. Just like @rachel_norfolk explained, if we are not providing equal opportunities for everyone, we're effectively throwing LOTS of knowledge an potential out of the window. Gender, sexual orientation, skin colour or religion have exactly nothing to do with the skills and potential any person has.

I have not seen anyone suggesting, that we should start selecting sessions purely based on if someone is from a underrepresented group of people. Having a preference for example to select sessions with diversity as one of many factors means we get to see more women, more non-white and less "perfectly healty white male middle aged hetero from USA or Europe" -people on stage - and bring much much more potential with them into the community.

By Perttu Ehn @ropsue
2 months ago

I'm removing all modules that do not have a gender and LGBT equality in their respective maintainers. I also would point out our bias towards earth people.

By Tim Hofman
2 months ago

"A good real life example would be: You have 10 slots and around 50 session proposals. 95% if the session proposals are white-male and 5% of non-white-male. I think yes it's perfectly fine to give only 70% slots to the white-male and 30% to the non-white-male (or in a 80/20 % ratio, whatever you and the organisers team decide)."

Dear Michael

Is this DA policy? Because I am VERY strong against /all/ kinds of discrimination and I will not make an exception for some call "positive discrimination".

S I would like to know, does the Drupal Association as the holder of Drupalcon's know that you select sessions based upon gender and is this the official policy? If so, I will strongly reconsider if I ever want to be again at at DrupalCon again! Very strong.

(background: I have been attending all EU DrupalCon's -apart from dries the only one maybe-, organized two and have been a track chair for many as well.)

By bert boerland
2 months ago

Recruiting speakers for a conference starts from the inner friend circle of the organizers. If almost all of the organizers friends are white men, the conference gets loaded with white men. If you don't have a diverse social circle, you can still hold a diverse conference. But, you need to start by reaching outside your social circle to connect with people who can both improve the quality AND the diversity of your speakers. If you can't do that, you shouldn't hold a conference.

By Greg Boggs
2 months ago

If the result of diversity drives at DrupalCon is that people who are against diversity drives stop attending DrupalCons that'd be a win-win situation for me.

By catch
2 months ago

Sorry Nathaniel but what you said makes absolutely no sense.

He didn't say or imply at any point that he is against diversity drives.
What he seems to be against - and the only thing he explicitly said - is that he is against speakers being selected based on gender.

That is one small subset of what you call "diversity drive" which I honestly agree is also detrimental not just to diversity, but to the community development itself - that is, selecting speakers based on gender.
That doesn't mean at all that I don't agree with other things being done, and the discussion actively taking place.

By Felipe Fidelix
2 months ago

Hey "Not Important",

Why not put a name / face to your "courageous" world views? I, and other amazing programmers who are women, who are trans, who are people of color, who are building software and infrastructure -- we want to avoid you.

My engineering team? 50% women. Stay out of our way.

This blog post (and the other one, on empathy) are pretty milquetoast, 101-level writings (I'm glad someone is writing them -- I do not have the patience to coddle people like you anymore).

Still, you protest diversity so much, throwing tantrums, reducing people to body parts, clutching to specious essentialist views... it is because you are mediocre. You got used to you mediocrity being unchallenged and now you whine because you can't stand up to the competition from diverse backgrounds.

I did not judge you on your gender or skin color, "Not Important", simply on your writing -- boring, regurgitated words of someone who is ignorant about rampant racial and gender inequality in tech.

Stay mad! We will stay winning.

By roaming
2 months ago

I do not protest diversity. I protest discrimination - negative same as positive. Thats all. If girl makes decision to be programmer i say: great! If we have 50% of women in team i say great! If someone hire/accept session/etc just because she is woman(and disadvantages anybody else) i say thats bad. Simply statisticly more men want to be (and feel that) tech. Statisticly more women want something closer to mind and heart instead of brain(i do not know how to say that better, sorry for english). That is something making us different. Thats better then uniformity.
If you want to hire 10 programmers and you have 9 men and 1 women interested you simply will have 90/10 "for men". If you want to hire 10 designers you probably wil have something like 50/50 interested poeple. If you want to hire 10 nurses you maybe will have one man interested - and you are at 90/10 "for women". Not by any kind of discrimination. If you want 50/50 programmers team then you have to make it unequal for men and it is discrimination. If you want to hire anybody do you look his skin? Me not. It includes i will not discriminate him for skin colour but it also includes i will not hire him just because of it. I will hire it because of skills needed for that job.

If you are tech girl it is fantastic. Nobody makes obstacles to you - i strongly believe in it. As employer i always wanted to have diversed team but never ever woman sent CV. Too small city or something like that? Maybe. But it was no discrimination by me. Do not ask for positive discrimination same as you fight against negative one. Do not say "give my session/hire me because i am woman", better say "give my session/hire me because it is interesting/i am good at my job".

Minorities are asking for "equality" and i say: yay that is best way! We need it. But then i read "make more for them". And that is not equality anymore in my eyes.

And sorry i would like to have democracy but at these times i feel very discriminated and judged by just saying my opinion. I do not feel freedom of speech in EU last years.

By Not important
2 months ago
By Damien McKenna
2 months ago

https://events.drupal.org/news/setting-diversity-drupalcon-goal doesn't even mention 'positive discrimination' - it's 100% outreach (and maybe some funding).

Where critics of positive discrimination go wrong is they see an explicit attempt to improve outcomes for some groups, and ignore the thousands of implicit/hidden cases of discrimination against those same groups that go on every day. The argument isn't made in good faith - it's not exactly hard to find information about those cases.

Also if someone criticizes what you say, your freedom of speech is unaffected. People constantly conflate criticism with censorship, they're not remotely related.

By catch
2 months ago

We seem to agree that diversity is a good, and desirable. We’re often not getting it. Can we change this without discrimination?

> From my personal experience, bringing in diversity into tech events is a challenge, especially
> when they are organized by teams that aren’t diverse in the first place.

Jam in his introduction to the BoF mentioned he’d been to Drupal camps the world over and said something to the effect that the lack of diversity at Drupal events is a greater problem in Western Europe.

Are we special? Is it worse here?

It seems Jam’s anecdote is supported by statistics for our broader industry. My feeling has always been that the Drupal community is more diverse than other Tech communities that I’ve experienced. Within Europe (High-tech knowledge Intensive Services – which includes computer programming and consultancy) is 30.4% women. It’s not completely the East/West split, but broadly. Germany, where we were, is actually stand out ‘good’ at 33.4%. As a resident of the Netherlands, I feel I have to sadly mention, it has the worst ratio of the whole of Europe with only 22.6%
Further round the world it seems R&D could be correlated and http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs34-women-in-scien… Europe is pretty awful.

Within Drupal we don’t discriminate. We just pick the best from the talks submitted by the people in our industry.

It still doesn’t add up!

With the shitty percentages in most Western European countries, we’re still failing. We must be discriminating in a negative way somehow.

Are all the best talks really from men? Maybe all the best talks submitted are from men. Unconscious bias will tell us what is best. We all do it, me, you, everyone, it’s part of being human. We think that someone will be best to do something, and we know we’re right. Without structurally working against this unconscious bias we’re stuck with it.
Anonymizing the process isn’t the answer. In a connected & close community like ours it isn’t an option. Even if it were possible, I’m not sure it would be desirable. Getting to speak isn’t some competition where the best proposal-writer wins. It’s about co-operating to make the best possible conference for everyone attending.
It’s may be better to having more people, and more diverse people, making the selection.

The people submitting talks aren’t representative. It’s not as diverse as our community. Unless men truly are the best to be speaking. We don’t need positive discrimination for this. We need to fix a broken process.

How? The first comment mentioned the answer is ‘incomplete or imprecise’. I’d go so far as to say it’s contradictory. What feels a safe space differs. Our sample set is so diverse that data, as such, isn’t going to be that great. It’s a process based on social relations.

Luckily there are lots of experiences written up about things that worked, and didn’t. Some are collected at the bottom of the notes from the BoF, and by the Diversity group, and others in this discussion. We should try them.

Find processes that don’t discriminate is not positive discrimination. Personally I’d go further and say we should positively and actively go out of our way to break the discrimination that means there are only 20 – 30% women in our industry. Maybe we can discuss that when we’re getting close to involving the diversity in our conferences as in the industry, maybe by then we’ll already have started.

Involving a diverse group of people from the start is one of the common successes written up. I come back to the quote from Josef above. With volunteers it is difficult, some people have more time, some have other commitments - all true. We need to work out how to make our teams more diverse. Can the way the team organizes be different? Make it easier, or more inviting, for more people to participate at this level? The diverse team is clearly something others found helps.

As a community we need to give space for the diverse voices and ideas that already exist. If our structures, or our behavior, prevents this, that is discrimination. After my earlier tweets (linked in the article) I made a personal decision to at least try and amplify the voices of women involved in the community, rather than my own. Having now joined in again with this, I feel it’s important to do this again.

We’re a diverse community, but not so diverse as we should or could be. We have all sorts of unconscious personal bias, and live in society with its biases. Our camps don’t always involve, or reflect, who we are. Some voices dominate. It’s not because we’re picking the best speakers. It’s because we’re not getting the best speakers. Changing this is removing discrimination. We’ll mess it up sometimes, but we need to discuss it. Look at positive examples that worked. Try them out. Review. If we actually make the effort. Iteratively it will get better.

By ekes
2 months ago

There are a couple of problems:

Firstly, complaints about a lack of diversity are often seen as an attack, suggesting that the members of a particular community are racist or sexist. In their eyes, being racist or sexist requires overt hatred of a particular group, and as they do not feel any hatred, they consider the label to be incorrect and the complaints to be arbitrary.

Technology has a mindset associated with it that a lot of people subscribe to; the best ideas float to the top, and knowledge and skill are coveted above all else. Because on the internet we're just a username - often a racially and sexually ambiguous username that says nothing about our physical characteristics - our code contributions are all that anyone sees, and code either works or it doesn't and it's either fast or slow.

Therefore, it must be the case that technology communities suffer from fewer social problems seen offline, if they have any at all.

But this suggests that people are completely aware of their own unconscious biases, and completely objective, which is absurd. It doesn't translate to offline meet-ups and events.

I think it's important to reassure members of the community that they are not being attacked and assumed to be card-carrying members of the KKK, but instead that they may not have noticed how small things could contribute to an atmosphere that might not overtly reject certain types of people, but could be unwelcoming for entirely-preventable reasons.

It's not about excluding white people or men, but about encouraging people who differ from that stereotype to be welcomed, as otherwise they just won't bother coming.

It just seems more egalitarian to shape events to make them more welcoming of everybody. Not giving special treatment to anyone. Just removing obstacles. Even from someone as anti-social as I am, it makes sense. :^)

By Paul Kerrigan
2 months ago

"I think it's important to reassure members of the community that they are not being attacked and assumed to be card-carrying members of the KKK"

No, it is not.

By roaming
2 months ago

I am not surprised by some of the ignorant comments found here. This is a discussion that the community just seems to be catching up to. I would like to, however, give kudos to Brandon Williams, Amazee, who runs local meetups in ATX, who I think embraces everyone and makes everyone feel welcome at the meetups and to the Drupal Community.

By P Silva
2 months ago

I am female. Speakers should be chosen on the interest and relevance of their topic, the quality of their speaking and their ability to share knowledge and information. No other criterion should matter. Drupal is a relatively technical CMS, and most people who develop are likely to be male. Women in this industry are used to dealing with more men than women, and we don't mind being a minority. Any women who find men intimidating, quietly move into other fields.

That said, it does no harm to be aware that as a CMS, Drupal is becoming more "techie" and "male". I grew up on D6, and love D7. I found both almost instinctive to use. Drupal is a tool I use to achieve a goal - an interactive website that my clients can be taught to use.

I planned to start on D8 over the holidays, but my shared hosting wasn't happy about it. I would have had to delve into the guts of PHP and MySql, changing default configurations without a good idea of the implications of what I was doing.

Perhaps what is needed is the occasional Drupal conference for people who develop WITH Drupal, but who aren't excited about the arcane details of Twig, the REST API and Guzzle. You guys might meet a whole lot of nice girls there!

By Dianne
2 months ago

I agree with a bunch of this Dianne. I'm too old (35) and I've worked too hard to work with teams and people that aren't diverse, I can't count the number of jobs and organisations I just wouldn't bother applying for. I've spoken to a bunch of men and they feel the same way too. I can't help but think that most guys in Drupal I know would have been way more impressed with a Permaculture Weekly or Veganism Rules or so many other magazines and just tossed Playboy in the bin. Whether they commented or tweeted or not the collective facepalms vibrated across the world.

I do know I probably won't get a look in with recruiters and businesses that push the "work hard play hard" tech boy club culture - but I know guys that have zero interest too. More fool to them - I'm awesome.

I worked in a company that built in Drupal with no connection to the community (to their detriment in part why they closed at the start of the year) so it's very interesting witnessing the community as a person who builds in Drupal with no connections observing how it works and trying to assess entry points and possible place in a community that is reasonably advanced.

I am very concerned about Drupal 8 - and the points you make are the ones I connect with most Dianne - I'd absolutely go to that conference you speak of to have an honest discussion and assessment of the future - and I would only go if there were a diverse array of voices and people part of a community going forward. I don't know with what level of confidence I would build in D8 and if and which organisations or businesses I would encourage to build in it and with whom - and that feels to me like a major problem. Having said that I'm building a site in D8 at the moment and I'm ore than happy to test and explore, but I am critically evaluating other platforms - which honestly I'd rather not do.

And then there are the people who actually pay the money for stuff. These businesses and organisations are working very hard to diversify - or they probably already are. When they don't see that in a tech company or community they take their cash else ware. The story and inclusiveness of open source is part of the narrative we sell as open source developers, when others sell and prove that they do that better market lead is lost. Business is all about supporting more women and diversity in tech right now. It's something looked at in procurement - and more and more it's women with technical knowledge that are making company decisions on purchases. If you can't sell to them they will go else ware - it doesn't really matter how on trend your opinions on diversity are or aren't.


By Lyndsey
2 months ago

Well, as a 64-year old female front-end developer and 40-year business owner this annoys me immensely. There are a plethora of training events across the tech universe. I choose which to learn from based upon the quality of the presentation, not the gender. Always. I do not have the leisure time in business to trade my time for less-than-the-very-best information. If you have done a RFP and promotion that is widely and fairly distributed to a population of interested speakers who include both female and male, at some point, it becomes a female's responsibility to step up. It's not Drupal's job to coddle my female colleagues. Treat us as equals and provide us an equal opportunity -- that is the behavior I would anticipate.

While many fail to acknowledge it, the truth is that there is women do have different interests than men. I fish. And yes, I am a huntress. I am a backpacker. I ski. I ride horses. I code. And I find it the rare young woman or middle-aged woman (forget my age group) who thinks it is cool to dig deep into code. Sure they exist. But let's not be overly zealous in forcing women to feel bad about digging into something they do not want to dig into. Respect their right to choose professions that delight them.

Do I support more coding training in schools? You bet. Do I want dojo coding in every rural town and metro market where those who want it can take advantage of it? Of course. I also have a friend at a university who leads a STEM program. It's a battle to get the girls into some aspects of STEM.

The magazine? Well, a bit tacky but understandable. Was there a female bag and a male bag? Maybe that could have been provided.

But, please, it's better than good to assure that the opportunities to do the steep climb to Drupal be available to women. But please don't get so stuck on diversity that in the process you make women feel bad for not choosing to want a life in front of a computer screen as I have chosen.

And safe spaces? Well, I noticed a long time ago that I learned more from my scabs than I ever learned from a party. Don't protect people from developing a thick skin. It's a good tool to have.

If Drupal persists in this direction of valuing women over valuing top-of-game content, then I'm gone, says this woman.

By Sunshiney
2 months ago

I generally agree with this Sunshiney except that the world is now moving so hard and fast towards tech that without women being more engaged in tech I feel we will exacerbate social and economic divides. So we gotta include them.

I also feel that tech is so oversaturated that without diverse experiences, ideas and perspectives we are going to bastardize the whole damn world and end up with a sludge of crappy vanilla soup. Is that even an analogy? I think my procrastination time is over ;)

By Lyndsey
2 months ago

My two cents worth; We should focus on eliminating overt examples of gender and race bias. Humans, by nature, are very diverse and belong to many overlapping groups. Trying to be "diverse" without defining what we mean by the term will lead to absurdity. But gender and race are historically the realms where most of the bias has taken place, so let's start there. Learning how to move beyond tolerance and into inclusion in these two realms will lead to greater inclusivity in other realms. Also, I feel like we treat this stuff with such a clinical mindset. We are all people. We need to learn how to open our hearts to each other and hear each other's stories and experiences. That will lead to a kind of inclusive culture that no amount of rules and procedures can do on their own. There's a place for rules and procedures that get us moving in that direction.

By Douglas Gough
2 months ago

Another industry hijacked and infested with the cancer of identity poltics and 3rd wave feminism. I remember Github's recent inclusive policies that stated "white women are the problem". I actively avoid all groups purporting to be "gender equal". Men, never attend or fund these sick groups.

By Anon
2 months ago

If you have read this far you are probably disappointed at what level we are discussing diversity in the Drupal community. We are still arguing with people that don't want to provide a fair share of space to marginalized people.

But there is hope. There is a growing group in the Drupal community that cares.

I will support you. I will listen to you. I will believe you, not judge you. I will treat you as equal. I will make mistakes, you will tell me and I will honestly apologize. I want to be someone you can count on. You should not feel alien among us.

By klausi
1 month ago

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