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From "Sharan Foga"<sha...@apache.org>
Subject Committer Diversity Survey – Diversity Related Feedback
Date Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:59:50 GMT
Hi Everyone 

I'm following up on some of the feedback received in the Committer Diversity Survey. 

https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/COMDEV/ASF+Committer+Diversity+Survey+-+2016

The last survey question was one where they could leave any comments or feedback and also
give their explicit permission for us to quote or use their comment.

The following comments were received about diversity within the ASF itself. Please note that
one comment mentioned a specific project so I've changed it to be Project Y.

1. It's nice to see diversity has taken a center stage. I feel that the initial, central challenge
brought up (that women are underrepresented in the ASF) has been washed away by a general
diversity discussion. Diversity is a good thing, but I feel that we have a clear and present
problem with representation of women in the ASF and focusing on "general" diversity versus
gender diversity is ignoring the obvious issue that we could directly focus on.

2. I highly appreciate any strong policies towards diversity in all places. I think (and wish
for the future) that there is an even higher effort to improve diversity and also (I personally
think those two belong together) that there are clear rules and examples for approved or appreciated
behaviour vs discouraged / forbidden behaviour (read a clear code of conduct). I think minorities
need those clear guidelines they can refer to in case they feel they are violated. Independant
(objective) parties to resolve disputes could be helpful with that.    Thank you for making
the Apache community a better place for everybody! 

3. Apache diversity has been gradually improving.  The most notable changes started happening
in 2013 when diversity topic was discussed.  I think it is progressing in the right direction.

4. Interestingly enough, and certainly anecdotal, I have worked with a diverse group of engineers
of ethnicity, gender, and religion, over 20 years, and the one theme has been developers like
dev talk and dev things, regardless of the rest or what else they do with their time or life
energy, and I haven't seen numbers or data that suggest my anecdotes are incorrect.    Often,
especially at corporations, exclusionary, and dare I say publicly, biased fascist and business
irrelevant measures, are used to force diversity upon a group more focused on doing their
job, or what they do, than finding time to push biases or some non-tech/geek/dev agenda or
defending against absurdity or people focused on the wrong aspects of an organization or its
members. These measures are often used to keep various people from being hired regardless
of qualification or passion for solving problems, even if an organization needs people worse
than it needs an argument; kind of like Apache projects needing doi
 ng versus not doing.    So, I understand collecting the data, and figuring out what the landscape
looks like as a first step, but I am more curious to the intent, as well as future measures
or thoughts around them, to influence diversity, as well as what aspect is assumed to be promoted
or made better in a meritocracy such as Apache by attempts to increase it, as well as an understanding
of my concern related to doing versus not with relation to measures which have negative impacts.
The blog post simply refers to a nebulous concept as so many corporate emails on the topic,
without actually having a goal or purpose, or an accurate reflection of how this data may
influence the future of the org, or how projects and committees are formed if at all.    It
seems hard to justify doing anything, and I literally mean anything one can do, at all, on
earth, without a goal plus understanding of reasons and intentions when factoring how valuable
and short our time is. I think it is fair to ask 
 for this regardless of the topic.    I am here at Apache to freely use, develop, and promote
software, and have fun while doing it, with no other agenda, and assume any other human and
commiter the same, so I would like to be aware of any goals outside of this which may distract
from what has seemingly been the core of what Apache has represented for decades. I deem anything
which may be or seem to be subjective or political, which isn't specifically relevant to software
and projects being built, and the subjective arguments we sometimes have in that context,
a detour from the purpose of what many of us are doing here, and some goals and intent along
with sector statistics to back those up in the context of this and future data requests would
be helpful IMHO.

5. Diversity should be about diversity of thought.  I would expect a diversity survey to cover
attitudes and opinions and to not only focus on superficial traits.

6. My project has since inception less than 5% women committers, and of those women some have
since left the project. We have almost no racial diversity, no disabled diversity, very little
participation from Asia/Pacific.

7. I feel we lose more women than men, especially in the first year / after the first in-person
event. As well as working to improve the number of people from less common backgrounds, we
also need to work on keeping those we get

8. With Apache being a meritocracy, I feel we are very open as a community and I have always
witnessed peers being friendly and welcoming to all those who interacted with us - be it on
mailing lists, forums or in person at conferences.    That said, in the particular projects
I am involved in, the trend of lower female participation can be observed.  Whilst I do not
believe we do anything that would make potential female contributors avoid participating,
at least consciously, I personally think it would be good to explore how we can do some outreach
to get our projects more visibility to the create female engineers, designers, testers, users
and community builders.

9. I hear about diversity with gender (with proposed values I would not have even imagined)
or race/ colour: simply put, I don't care of this type of diversity (notice that I have no
issues with people who do care: I just want that diversity is not limited to these aspects).
   The first diversity to me that happens and is beautiful in ASF is diversity in countries,
cultures, native language (even if shared discussions are done in english), types of involvement
(day job vs night&WE): This is the most diverse people I ever met, since I am rarely involved
in such a worldwide effort. And that's when I meet people F2F in a conference that I see and
appreciate even more this diversity, with large group of people switching from language to
language. There is also diversity in competencies that is awesome: so much experts in so much
domains, who do their best to make it accessible to others.      Perhaps one info for the
survey that could be useful next type: native language(s) and proficie
 ncy in english.  I'm not a native english speaker (I'm french, it's better ;) ): we need
to share such a conventional base language (that everyone can massacre in his own local way).
That's during F2F discussions that it can become harder, with native speakers (or most proficient
outsiders) not taking time to go more slowly, or in contrary less proficient speakers doing
hard-to-understand massacre... But that's fun and good opportunity to learn.    Thanks for
this survey: I was not sure this would have been useful, but after doing my own answer, I
see it's good to take time to think and write down what I think from our group. I hope the
sum of our experiences will give an even more useful result.  And at least, this will reinforce
the idea of being part of a real big (very diverse) community, and not only part of some projects'
community.  And let's hope this will help attract newcomers: being at ASF for quite a long
time now, I still feel small when looking at older members. And I 
 know when I speak with newer ones that they are still missing a lot of knowledge and feel
themselves intimidated: without really making formal graduation on ASF knowledge, we need
to find some way to answer to questions at every level of maturity: I think that it's the
hardest part (provide simple content for beginner and precise and detailed ones for more advanced)

10. I think that a diversity survey is long overdue and I thank those involved who are pushing
community over code through these diversity studies.

11. I'm also a service connected disabled veteran (e.g. I was injured in a war).     In the
US that's also a protected group (actually, both veteran of a war and service injured are
both)- might be a relevant thing to measure as part of diversity. Or maybe not- I don't know.


12. What does sexual orientation, race, or age have to do with developing open source software
for the public good?  Nothing!  I am involved with 3 projects actively, and several others
infrequently.    sex, age, or race has never been a factor in the 12 years I have been involved
with the ASF for any of these projects.   I am unaware of the sex, age, race of most of my
fellow community members unless they make such information explicitly known, nor does it matter
to me [or religion, nationality, etc].  And yes, I've followed the extensive survey discussion
on the mailing lists and watched as the "we need diversity information" people tore into those
who questioned the need for this survey.   I chose to remain silent rather than make myself
an unnecessary target.   I suspect the silent majority has no interest in this survey and
sees it as pointless.   The first question on this survey should have been "Do you see a need
for collecting diversity information to further the mission of 
 the ASF?"   
       
13. Diversity means a lot of things to different people. I think sometimes people are a little
scared of the word because they think it means having to change (and they don't want to).


14. I attend lots of conferences and meet-ups, and I would say ASF diversity is better than
average.  At least, ASF is aware of the need to be inclusive and welcoming, and goes about
it in a reasonable manner.

15. Yes diversity among other projects and helping us to contribute is awesome and I love
the ASF way.

16. I'm curious about the results. I'm afraid you will get a very high middle-age Caucasian
male majority... Sorry about that!

17. Having worked for many years at a large company that cares about and is actively working
on improving diversity, I have found the transition to working with Apache to be jarring from
a diversity/inclusion perspective. If this weren't now a required part of my day job, I'd
likely stop participating in OSS.    For example:  - While my work environment is 10% female,
my Apache environment appears to be approximately 1-2% female.  - Regular usage on the mailing
lists of unnecessarily gendered words makes me think the others in this community assume all-male
colleagues or at least are not aware of diversity issues. Folks at my company changed their
language years ago -- s/guys/folks/, s/gentlemen/everyone, s/he/they, etc.  - Though I have
a highly technical and relevant background in the project I participate in, I get a nagging
feeling that folks aren't taking me as seriously as they do others -- feels like the unconscious
biases may be higher in this community than in my company env
 ironment. (See studies like this: https://peerj.com/preprints/1733/)  - Watching flame wars
like the recent threads on Project Y''s dev@ list that even include board members makes me
really question the civility that can be created in an open community.     But on a positive
note, I was thrilled to find https://www.apache.org/foundation/policies/conduct 

18. ASF is very diverse and a truly global organization. There though there is a tendency
between various geographical groups to cling together once in a while.

19. As far as I can tell, people are mainly focused on moving forward regardless of the type
folks on the other end of the communication thread. It seems that willingness and aptitude
are the only prerequisites. 

20. The diversity issues at the ASF are similar to diversity issues in technology firms or
IT departments of non tech firms. Gender diversity is a function of the culture of the societies
in which we live. In the former communist bloc, women were encouraged to study STEM subjects
at school and become engineers. ASF committers and the ASF as an organization can promote
diversity, but our action as citizens, fathers, mothers, is more important for diversity than
what we do as ASF committers.

21. I find diversity at the ASF to be mixed. We have participation from many countries (excluding
Asian ones) but we do not seem to have very much participation from women. The reason for
Asian country under participation is probably language, but the gender imbalance is a bit
more mysterious since it seems substantially bigger than the imbalance for computing in general.

22. In general terms, Apache membership is meritocratic and allows anybody to participate.

We also had seven comments where people did not give their permission to be quoted so I have
paraphrased the general feedback below:

- One comment was concerned about diversity because of things they had read on the incubator
mailing lists.

- One thought that diversity within the ASF was good

- One was unsure of what strategy to use to attract females into their community.

- One thought that people are people and that gender or ethnicity should not matter.

- One highlighted that some of our projects are very welcoming while others seem quite hostile.

- One thought it was too soon for them to comment on diversity

- One didn't think that diversity was important in open source as lot as people can work together
well.

As you can see, we had a lot of feedback on the diversity topic itself. There are a couple
of viewpoints, one saying we need to work on it and the other that it shouldn't matter. 

I'm still willing to spend time working on ways to promote diversity and I think it is good
that the survey has given us at least our own benchmark. How representative it is – I
think is another discussion thread!

Thanks
Sharan

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