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Python: Call for diversity

5 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Aug 6, 2009 12:13 PM by nes

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Aahz

Posts: 14
Nickname: aahz
Registered: May, 2003

Python: Call for diversity (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Jul 29, 2009 11:31 AM
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Summary
The Python community is both incredibly diverse (Python 3.1's release manager was not yet eighteen years old) and incredibly lacking in diversity (none of the regular committers is a woman). I'm now working on creating more diversity in the Python community, and I welcome anyone who wants to help.
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My previous blog entry on Disbelief: women and Open Source generated some comments. Thinking further, I believe that the Python community really needs to be more active in creating diversity. As my post said, the first step is for us to admit that there is a problem.

I believe that the next step is for the Python community to make a formal statement supporting diversity. I've created a new mailing list (diversity@python.org) to discuss the wording of a diversity statement, along with discussing diversity issues in general. I invite anyone interested in the subject of diversity to join the list -- even if you disagree that actively supporting diversity is needed, I would like a chance to convince you:

Diversity list

Please note that I believe that the Python community is generally welcoming and that the Python community would jump on anyone who behaved in an overtly prejudiced way (unlike some controversies in other communities). However, I think that we have also inherited the lack of diversity in Open Source as a whole, and I believe that taking a more active role in building diversity will build a more vibrant Python community.

After all, as Kirrily pointed out, the more inclusive we are, the more people we have working on Python.

I just started a new job this week, so I'm not going to be pushing this any time soon -- but I also feel that I need to throw this out so that other people can get involved if they want.


Ingrid Jakobsen

Posts: 2
Nickname: ingridbj
Registered: Jul, 2009

Re: Python: Call for diversity Posted: Jul 31, 2009 9:24 PM
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Thanks for doing this. I am a woman, I've been employed as a python programmer. I've never really considered joining any open software project because I'm sick and tired of being 'the only girl' or one of a few, starting with being interested in maths and science at school.

It's exhausting just having to spend my entire life in an environment where the fact that I'm a woman doing what I do is notable. I can expect that from my work environment, so I choose to spend my leisure time in more gender-balanced environments.

This means that the first ever open source project I've even begun considering joining is Dreamwidth, because I know there are already plenty of women there. Unfortunately, it's in Perl, which, well, I'm a pythonista. And unfortunately for anyone who wants to increase (gender) diversity in other programming communities, I'm not available unless you pay me.

And I don't think I'm particularly rare in this reaction.

Michele Simionato

Posts: 222
Nickname: micheles
Registered: Jun, 2008

Re: Python: Call for diversity Posted: Aug 1, 2009 12:16 AM
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> Thanks for doing this. I am a woman, I've been employed
> as a python programmer. I've never really considered
> joining any open software project because I'm sick and
> tired of being 'the only girl' or one of a few, starting
> with being interested in maths and science at school.

This is understandable. When I was a Ph. D. student
my advisor was a woman, as well as her other students,
so I felt surrounded by women ;-) [I say this tongue
in check, but in Italy at least it is not
uncommon to find women in science].

Anyway, I wanted to say that being part of a big
Open Source project is not the only way to do Open Source.
There are many other possibilities. Writing documentation
for obscure features of a language. Having a blog about
programming. Writing small utility modules. I did all
of that and I did not need to collaborate with any pre-existent project to do that. It turns out one of the modules I wrote ended up to be a dependence of Pylons and other frameworks, so that now it has tens of thousands of
downloads. That happened by chance, the framework authors
made use of it without even telling me (which is fine,
this is what Open Source is all about, right?)

Anybody can write a module, upload it to PyPI and blog
about it; somebody will download it and use it, that's sure.
You can have many downloads or few, a big success or
a small success, but either way you will have contributed
(a little or a lot) to the Open Source community.

Ingrid Jakobsen

Posts: 2
Nickname: ingridbj
Registered: Jul, 2009

Re: Python: Call for diversity Posted: Aug 3, 2009 8:43 PM
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I think you're missing the point. Or maybe I didn't make my point clearly enough. Sure, if I really wanted to be in Open Source, I could figure something out. But I don't care enough about OS as it is, it's not inviting enough to me as it is. And so I think the fact that I've not already wanted to become a python OS programmer is the python OS community's problem, not my problem.

Bluntly, I think I'm awesome enough as is. Bluntly, I don't want to have to ruin any fun I might have being a programmer with sexism 101 teaching moments and feeling obligated to be a mentor or mother hen to any other women interested in python. I think the community can sort all that out themselves before I deign to join them.

Or, as I said, they can pay me.

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Python: Call for diversity Posted: Aug 4, 2009 2:35 AM
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> I think you're missing the point. Or maybe I didn't make
> my point clearly enough. Sure, if I really wanted to be
> in Open Source, I could figure something out. But I don't
> care enough about OS as it is, it's not inviting enough to
> me as it is. And so I think the fact that I've not
> already wanted to become a python OS programmer is the
> python OS community's problem, not my problem.
>
> Bluntly, I think I'm awesome enough as is. Bluntly, I
> don't want to have to ruin any fun I might have being a
> programmer with sexism 101 teaching moments and feeling
> obligated to be a mentor or mother hen to any other women
> interested in python. I think the community can sort all
> that out themselves before I deign to join them.
>
> Or, as I said, they can pay me.

Now it's me again who seems to miss the point entirely.

I always considered OSS as an economical model of sharing which counters the capitalist model of trade. The unspoken morality is that people who take something from the pool of the commons also give something back. The GPL goes a little further and prohibits a consumption of the commons which is then turned into private property which is equipped with its own legal structure.

People don't need to be invited nor does a particular atmosphere have to be created for OSS or whatsoever. IMO Aahz noble attempt to invite woman to Python is misguided but not for sexist reasons.

All that people need to know is how to use technology. Production and deployment is made almost as easy as consumption. Since there is no capitalist surplus value programmers who contribute to OSS are usually doing it in their spare time as a hobby activity. It's driven by people who have fun doing things not by others who want to love each other. No one in the OSS would pay you for anything and no one cares about you in particular.

Communities emerge around certain production-sites but the whole process is not about them and very few projects formalize some of their activities and create a foundation like Python.

nes

Posts: 137
Nickname: nn
Registered: Jul, 2004

Re: Python: Call for diversity Posted: Aug 6, 2009 12:13 PM
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On a more positive note while no woman is a regular committer of Python at the moment, off the top of my head I can remember two important contributions of women to date to the community:

Anna Ravenscroft as editor of the second edition of the famous Python Cookbook
http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596007973/

and

Michelle Levesque for her PyWebOff blog (unfortunately gone?) and talk at PyCon 2005 that created quite a stir among web framework developers.
http://pycon.blogspot.com/2005/03/pyweboff.html
http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=146149


I welcome any contribution to the Python community not just as regular committer. We have to recognize that being regular committer requires lots of patience because of the many people and companies with different stakes and interests in the language.

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