Diversity on the governance teams


#90

Neither can we not do anything and wait for stuff to happen on its own.

I personally do feel that there are more ways to handle this than just nurturing (though that is something that is on the table and I hope will be fleshed out as a concrete proposal soon)

Also on the table, but we don’t need to stop there. There are other things that can be done too (scattered through the thread, though I did send the core team a summary of some ideas)

(As I mentioned before approaching others is something I’m not comfortable with doing myself because I don’t think I can easily represent the Rust community – waiting for the core team here)


#91

No, but anyone interested in improving this situation should probably start organising female oriented meetups and things of that sort because that’s where you can make change. And to add to this: I already said on Twitter a while ago that I will support any Rust female developer society. Unfortunately I neither have the time, nor connections nor motivation to do this on my own. I live in a place where it’s already hard enough to scramble any developer to a meetup. But if something is happening around central Europe, let me know and I will be the first to support it by advertising for it, showing up with a talk etc.


#92

Exactly that could have been done: Not putting up that team page right now, instead spending more time building a more diverse team. (This has already been said in this thread.)

Dismissing anyone who disagrees as “people who love controversy” is not helping.

Please, do not use the term “females” when talking about people.


#93

Mitsuhiko: this very discussion – with its questioning, refuting, minimizing, derailing and excuse-making – is an active part of the problem. I am observing and experiencing that subjective fact myself, and have heard several women observing this discussion comment the same way.

It’s 2015 and we’ve been around this block about a thousand times already in the FLOSS world. It’s way past time for it to be excusable to make up reasons for women not participating in a field. There’s research on why, organized explanations of things that make it worse – conversations like this one, among them – and experience reports on how to make it better. Ball is in the leadership team’s court. They really don’t need you making further excuses, it makes it worse.


#94

Let me try to summarize the points that I feel I can present fairly. The Rust community is currently very homogenous. As a consequence, neither the core team (which existed before) nor the subteams/peers (which are new) are as diverse as everyone would like. Dissecting how that state came to be doesn’t seem to yield anything productive or helpful or pleasant, only get dangerously close to blame assignment and excuses. So let’s stop doing that.

This homogeneity has the tangible downside that some people of underrepresented groups have more reservations about joining our community, presumably based on bad experiences (own or reported) with very homogenous communities. If they would join, they’d probably find it very delightful, but they don’t because their heuristic filters us out. This filter is quite valid, or even if we’d think it wasn’t, we should still be concerned that we are missing out on potential community members.

Those who argue against the team announcement state that the above downside has measurably worsened since the announcement, presumably because the lack of diversity is now more visible. Let me repeat, nothing has changed about the demographics of the community at large, nor those of the biggest contributors (many of whom now hold a peer position, hence are more visible). It simply became more visible who the workhorses and great thinkers of the project are.

Since nobody here is a wizard, at least not one skilled in conjuring contributors and experience out of thin air, this will not change easily or quickly. This too bears repeating: All the outreach and community building (that everyone agrees to) can enable us to build a diverse team in the next, let’s say, few months. The exception being the moderation team, which does not require the Rust-specific expertise of other subteams.

One proposed alternative was to not announce teams at all, resp. disband them now and go back to the unofficial, undocumented structure that existed before. If I understand correctly, @skade has since mellowed and proposes a compromise that keeps the subteams but refines or shrinks their mission statements, but other participants are apparently still in favor of that? Anyway, the many disadvantages for lots of areas other than outreach have been discussed at length, including by me. It is unlikely to find acceptance but I don’t want to predict anything.

Here begins the part where I stop summarizing and start thinking out loud.

As I understand it, the problem with the team announcement is one of communication. The announcement and web presence of the team unintentionally sends an unfortunate message, or can be read as sending such a message. (As above, it doesn’t matter how valid these concerns are, they cost us community members.) That message is that Rust is, to quote a few ways to express it: “All white dudes”, “not diverse”, “a boy’s club”. Unfortunately, that is the truth. But it’s not the whole truth, thus misleading, and we can do better. If you want to, you can think of this as public relations rather than social justice.

So how can we do better? Obviously, the main thing is to fix the problem, that is, reach out and grow our community not only with the “default audience” but also, specifically, with groups that are currently underrepresented. Everyone can help with that, even though the leaders should (and I do imply responsibility here, not just my own wish) take part in this. But since this is established to not work overnight, what can be done while it’s in process?

Since this is a communication problem, I say: Communicate better. Once the inevitable “diversity initiative” is taking off, document it on the web site and announce it to the public. Do this well! Take the hints from the kind community members who have given do’s and don’t of outreach above, and not only apply them to the actions taken but also make clear in the press releases that it’s being done like that.

Even before that, emphasize what’s already great about the governance model, including on the team page. That Rust is developed by an open and inclusive community, that the team merely sets directions and breaks ties in votes, that team members are community members first and foremost, that the teams are not set in stone, that new teams can and will be formed, that membership on the team means more administrative work than any real power. Maybe put the moderation team first, or right below the core team. I feel like that is “cheating”, but whatever, it’s marketing, right? :smiley:

As for the actual outreach and community building, I don’t feel comfortable asserting anything about it except that I’m in favor and if someone near me (Rhein-Main-Gebiet, Germany) wants to do such work I’ll see if I can help. I am not part of any Rust user group or any similar group from which a Rust user group could branch off. I also lack the time and the experience to creating one ex nihilo. I am stuck with armchairing about how to behave on the Internet.


#95

Core team member here.

First, I wanted to thank everyone for the open and honest discussion on this thread already. I was away with family during the weekend, and haven’t been able to respond until now.

Second, it’s clear that the recent team announcement has caused pain to people organizing outreach efforts, possibly damaged those efforts, and is sending a poor signal to those in underrepresented groups. As a member of Rust’s leadership, I am deeply saddened by those effects, and I’m sorry.

A bit of context. The newly-introduced subteams are part of a larger scaling up of Rust’s governance, which has several aims, including moving Rust to a greater degree of community ownership, and stepping up and formalizing our commitment to the community code of conduct. I believe both of these aspects are necessary, but certainly not sufficient steps in ensuring the health and diversity of Rust and its community in the long term. (Note also, with respect to explicit goals for the subteams: that’s laid out in a fair amount of detail in the RFC itself, and additional details about subteam operation were laid out in the subteam announcement.)

That said, as the original post points out: we are sorely lacking in diversity right now. This is true of the Rust community in general, but it is even more troubling at the leadership level. It would be easy for a person in an underrepresented group to get the impression: this project is not for you.

Looking backward, I see at least two mistakes:

  1. By far most importantly, the core team (of which I am a member) has failed to make diversity a visible, front-and-center priority. While we all want more diversity, and we have done work to foster a reputation as a friendly, safe, and approachable community, we haven’t been sufficiently outspoken about addressing the lack of diversity, nor have we invested heavily enough in doing and supporting outreach to underrepresented groups, or to removing obstacles in their way.

  2. Specifically, in making the subteam announcement we failed to acknowledge the lack of diversity and highlight concrete plans to improve it.

As to the makeup of the teams: I absolutely think our leadership should be more diverse than the community, for many reasons, and along many axes. But, like others in this thread and elsewhere, I have thought long and hard about whether there are members of underrepresented groups in the community who would fit these roles but were overlooked, and I am struggling to find them. In other words, I think that the makeup of the subteams is a symptom of a deeper problem: our failure to attract attract a more diverse community in the first place, and in particular to foster leadership among underrepresented groups.

I do not think the answer is to roll back the subteams. We need to scale up Rust and its community involvement in this way (as the RFC argues in detail), and have already gone through a community process to establish this new structure. We need to move forward, in some way that begins to address the more fundamental problems.

Here are a few ideas for immediate steps we might take (in addition to others that have already been discussed):

  • Form a community subteam, as many have suggested. Such a team has been in mind since we first discussed subteams, but we had intended to wait until the initial teams were fully running before bringing more online. We should fast-track the discussion of this team, and consider an explicit element of its charter to be leading the effort, and making policy decisions, related to diversity within the Rust community. That is, while diversity is a problem all of us should be aware of and working on, this team would be tasked in part with leading our efforts, including raising awareness within our community.

    Ideally, this team would be led by a member of the groups we wish to better serve – which would mean inclusion on the core team as well – but as @mbrubeck and others have said, we need to do this in a way that doesn’t ask people to “do disproportionate or unpaid work to fix problems they didn’t create”. In any case, the first step is to get the ball rolling on the creation of the team itself.

  • Seek to expand the moderation team with representation from additional groups that it is trying to protect; doing so will help the team to better achieve its goals, and will send a more clear signal to those groups that we care about the safety of our spaces for them. Again, though, we need to find a way to do this that does not ask for disproportionate or unpaid work.

  • Publicly address our diversity issues. This should start with a blog post on http://blog.rust-lang.org/, a very visible platform, that draws explicit attention to the lack of diversity on the teams and within the community, and outlines the steps we are taking to address it (i.e., the action items that come out of this and other discussions). In addition, we should look for more permanent places to put this information. For example, a similar acknowledgement might go on the “teams” page, to make clear our dissatisfaction with the status quo, our strong desire to find leaders from underrepresented groups, and links to our ongoing efforts to do so.

We also need to identify additional avenues for long-term investment in diversity, and I hope this thread can start moving in that direction once we have some agreement about steps to take for the immediate situation.


Organizing Community Organization
Brainstorming: community subteam
#96

I can’t believe my eyes.

I hope this isn’t meant seriously or that there’s some kind of misunderstanding, because the way this paragraph is worded is terrible. It sounds like you basically assumed a very negative opinion of the Rust community (a “red flag” as you’ve put it) without any actual negative experience with the people. Only based off the fact that they have a certain skin color / sex / etc., you assumed they’d be discriminative against others. That is the very definition of prejudice and that’s the very thing Rust people are trying to avoid here.

Gender and/or color of skin of authors of a language should no way be an acceptable reason for someone to stop learning that language.


#97

Thank you, @skade, and I apologize for this. I was hesitant to use stronger language in my initial post here, not because I don’t think it’s warranted, but because I hoped to start the conversation in a way that didn’t immediately put people on the defensive. However, you are right. This is not okay, and it was not unavoidable. I am personally ashamed at my own part in failing to prevent this mistake.


#98

Usually such assumptions are based on experience with groups in similar fields with similar make up. These are warranted assumptions and based on these assumptions, prior experiences and opportunity costs, people in under-represented groups make the decision not to get involved.


#99

These assumptions are in no way warranted. I can’t believe you’re seriously suggesting an assumption that some white people are going to be bad just because some other unrelated white people are behaving bad is warranted. Again, that is the very definition of racism - you assume something negative about someone just based off their skin color. This can’t happen. This is a violation of Presumption of innocence.

I can’t believe this is happening. Please someone wake me up.


#100

No, just no. Stop it right there, please.

The whole “reverse racism” argument is absolute nonsense. Please read something on this topic, before arguing about this further. I recommend something like this: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/reverse-racism-doesnt-exist/

Also, no one said this was specifically about race. It’s just that people tend to be extra cautious with groups that strongly resemble other groups that they had negative experiences with.

After a certain amount of negative experiences, people do this just out of self protection, not discrimination.


#101

One fairly straightforward way to avoid asking for unpaid work would, of course, be to offer it as paid work.


#102

I also hesitated to talk about this for similar reasons, but I think it’s important to address it. For the record, my ancestry is half Asian and half European. @Manishearth has mentioned that he is non-white. While I don’t know for sure how any other members of the team identify, I think it is fair to say that the racial diversity of the teams is just as much an issue as the gender diversity. If the teams, including the moderation team, are all or nearly all White and Asian, then we lack representation from the groups that face the most racial discrimination in tech. (I don’t want to minimize racism experienced by any Asian people in our community, but just to acknowledge that we are not one of the highly underrepresented groups in this field, at least where I live.)

I hadn’t yet mentioned representation of gender and sexual minorities, again for similar reasons. But I know it’s an equally important issue for both the moderation team and the community as a whole.

One team will never include every intersection of interests, but we need to do better than today. And where we do lack a point of view within the team, we need to at least be aware of that and take active steps to counter it.


#103

Yes, someone mentioned specifically race and gender. Also, I understand why people are cautious, it’s understandable, but being cuatious is one thing and judging someone upfront without even giving them a chance to prove themselves is another.

What exactly do people need to protect themselves against from the Rust team?


#104

Underrepresentation and ignorance. This has been discussed to the end of times in the 90 posts before yours how the Rust team gets no trust bonus. I recommend you to let the matter rest.


#105

With my moderator hat on, I am going to say very firmly that, when people who have faced discrimination share their experiences here, it is not okay to turn around and blame them for their reactions, even if you think they should react differently.

We won’t all agree here, but disagreement needs to be respectful and careful. If you have a serious problem with what a specific person is saying or how they are saying it, please consider contacting one or more of the moderators. We want to hear from all viewpoints, but directly calling another participant racist is not going to help this discussion and is not how we are going to let it proceed.

(If you disagree with this moderation call, again please take it up with me or the other moderators before arguing it in the thread. This thread should remain focused on the main issues, not any meta-discussion.)


#106

Thank you.

I support all three initiatives (though I hope there will be more!), and am willing to help however I can.

:smiley:


#107

Ok, ok. I should probably leave. I’ll just like to state for the record that I have not blamed anyone for anything. I was just trying to defend the team, which has always been very nice to everyone as far as I could see, for being unjustly accused, that’s all. Hope this all ends well.


#108

Hello all,

Since this discussion is getting quite long, I wanted to fork out a thread focused on planning our outreach efforts. Can we move that subset of the discussion there?


#109

Hello all,

So, as promised, it is Monday, and I am reading this thread. I’m sorry I couldn’t participate much earlier, it was simply impossible, but this thread – and more importantly, the underlying hurt that caused it – has been very much on my mind nonetheless. I just finished reading the whole thing top-to-bottom, and I want to give my overall reaction.

To start, I think there is a genuine problem being discussed here, and I’m glad it’s being discussed. While we have expressed an interest in diversity for a long time, and tried hard to ensure our community is welcoming, we have made relatively few active efforts to grow that diversity. We need to do better.

In any case, I believe strongly that when you’ve made a mistake, the right thing to do is admit it, and then focus on what you can do better right now. In terms of “official” actions, I basically agree with the next steps that Aaron put forward (community subteam; prominent blog post) and I’m very interested in having further discussion about proactive steps we can be taking. (Oh, I just saw erickt’s started a thread on this, so I think I’ll just go participate in that for starters. :smile: )

Rather than removing the subteams we have now, I’d rather that we simply grow them. The size of each subteam is not fixed and it was always expected that they will grow over time. Of course, as has been mentioned a few times, growing the teams (other than moderation) will require growing the community first, which will take time (as most good things do).