Diversity in PureScript Community

#1

Continuing the discussion from A PureScript community Code of Conduct?:

@joneshf brought up the topic of diversity in the PureScript community in the Code of Conduct thread. I think it might be worth spawning a different thread here to collect thoughts on improving the diversity in the PureScript community.

Relevant quotes from the article follow:

I came across this Quartz article, “The programmer who created Python isn’t interested in mentoring white guys”, about Python’s Guido van Rossum and his thoughts on diversity in Python’s community. This point of view might help the PureScript community as people work to improve PureScript’s communication with new-comers and new contributors.

In a rare interview with the programmer in October last year, which was recently published on YouTube, he was asked about the lack of diversity among the people working on open-source programming languages. He noted that it was an issue, and said that those who ignore it, because open-source projects are available for anyone to contribute, are not seeing the full picture.

“It’s not just joining a project that’s the problem, it’s staying in the project, which means you have to feel comfortable exchanging emails and code reviews… with people that you don’t know personally but you communicate frequently with online,” he said. Van Rossum thinks that these exchanges can be difficult for women because of unconscious bias and male-driven cultural norms within open-source communities.

“It’s not just about writing the code, but you have stand up for your code and defend your code, and there is a certain male attitude that is endemic in many projects where a woman would just not feel comfortable claiming that she is right,” he explained. “A guy who knows less than that woman might honestly believe [he is right], so they present a much more confident image.” In his experience, van Rossum sees incompetent men’s ideas gaining acceptance more often than merited because they are more forceful in how they present them.
~ https://qz.com/1624252/pythons-creator-thinks-it-has-a-diversity-problem/

And here is the solution that Guido is applying.

He believes the key to making open-source communities more inclusive is establishing (and enforcing) codes of conduct and mentoring. Van Rossum says that he now mentors women and underrepresented minority programmers. “But white guys can forget it,” he said. “They are not the ones who need it most.” (In typical programmer speak, he calls mentoring a “completely distributed, democratic approach.”)
~ https://qz.com/1624252/pythons-creator-thinks-it-has-a-diversity-problem/

So, I guess the key strategy for accomplishing the goal of ensuring diversity in the PureScript community is by helping members of minority groups feel comfortable joining and participating with the community. I guess having a mentoring strategy would be an effective way, but the mentors would need to also care about improving and enforcing a welcoming and helpful environment in the PureScript community.

4 Likes
#2

I would support adoption of a CoC for the core org (which likely would extend to community channels). We’ve tried to encourage more contributions by using shorter release cycles, which I do think has worked, but there is a core social aspect that is missing which I think would also help. However, I don’t feel as comfortable being overtly restrictive around mentorship (at least as a core maintainer) since I think we need all the contributors we can get.

6 Likes
#3

So you plan to ban people based on their skin color like the python guy wants to do? Or is it the idea to help anyone that needs it no matter their appearance ?

#4

The intention is to bring up ideas for the PureScript community to adopt to help groups of people who are under-represented or discriminated against in the tech world. The situation won’t improve unless existing groups in tech help them, and that starts by having a discussion about it and brainstorming ideas.

I think this isn’t about negative action against existing groups, but about positive action by encouragement and opportunities.

I think the PureScript community isn’t organized enough or have enough free time to actually take action on these ideas, as a group/organization.

#5

@danielo515 Not a single person has suggested banning people based on their skin colour. Please read the post and linked article properly before jumping to conclusions.

#6

Sorry, maybe ban was not the correct word. I mean, do not give a helping hand to people based on their sex and skin color. Is that more accurate?

That sounds as ban IMO. He banned white guys from his mentorship.

Under-represented ? Maybe, discriminated? I never saw a single person on the open source world being discriminated by their sex or race. I think this kind speech and people trying to gain attention with it are taking problems from other environments and trying to push them here, where they do not exist.

Having rules of conduct, guidances etc is a good thing, but discrimination against any group based on their sex or skin color is just wrong.

#7

Since Python is quite crowded, he has to pick who to mentor (for lack of time to mentor everyone), so he’s just making a political statement here by dedicating his time to a goal he values. Note that he’s free to do this choice. Btw, if you quoted a bit more from him you’d see that mentoring in their community is a “completely distributed, democratic approach”, and to me this means that other mentors are able to make their own choice too - no one is imposing anything AFAIK.

To use a metaphor: just because you’re able to pick a certain product at the supermarket and will always buy that one it doesn’t mean the other alternatives are banned. You’re just making a political statement as a consumer.

Note that this is not “reverse discrimination” or whatever, but “protection of minorities”: because network effects enact a positive feedback cycle to reinforce the prevalent party, you’ll need to be especially careful about helping minorities.
(this is the same pattern as “government/plutocrats produce the most effective propaganda” because they’re in power and they have better means to do so. The generic keywords if you want to learn more about this are “network effects” and “power law”)

I also got weirded out when I first heard about these things many years ago, but it turns out I was just in a bubble with nice and diverse people.
Once out though I started to see and hear a range of bad things, from un-welcoming to straight out discriminatory (and this seems similar to Guido’s experience too), and in my experience they happen also in ours/neighbouring communities. It doesn’t need to be open discrimination, many times it’s very little things that disrupt and intimidate someone trying to approach a community.
So please don’t dismiss legitimate issues as “people trying to gain attention”, because it’s the last thing we need if we want to worry about diversity (which we do)

Diversity is an unconditionally good thing to have, and I want diversity in the communities I’m part of. This is a problematic aspect of many programming communities, and as a white dude whatever I’ll use all the privilege I can to help underrepresented minorities overcome any issues they might encounter while interacting with the communities I’m in, and you should too.
(Side note: since our community is small I mentor everyone unconditionally anyways)

As @chexxor and @hdgarrood already noted no one is advocating for this and we all agree that discrimination is very very bad, so I’d kindly ask you to not bring this up again as it has already been discussed

9 Likes
#8

Unfortunately I can only put a single heart to @f-f reply, but I would have put a shitload of them if I could.

4 Likes