After hearing this keynote about diversity and gender at SOTM 13 and previously this video. I thought it would be good to look for ways to broaden our community through the events I help to organise in Scotland. In general, I think we are reasonably successful at attracting a wide range of people and it's worth noting that OpenStreetMap may achieve the best success when it works with existing groups and partners during mapping parties. Some thoughts of participation at mapping parties here. But we can definitely do better.
So I'm following Wikipedia's lead and hoping to work with Glasgow Women's Library to run a community mapping party event some time later this year as one way to make sure the widest and richest set of features are uploaded to OSM and offer a better alternative to inherent bias in other maps.
While organising this event, I was asked this question: 'Tell us about your experience of working with women and diverse communities and how you will ensure this project respects difference and safeguards equalities?'
Good question. Which got me thinking - does OpenStreetMap have a policy safeguarding equality or respecting difference. Well, short answer is no.
The mission statement includes 'open to all' and 'democratic process' but doesn't specifically refer to supporting or promoting diversity or equality. Nor do the draft core values
In contrast Wikimedia values includes this section:
'Our board of trustees, staff members, and volunteers are involved without discrimination based on their religion, political beliefs, sexual preferences, nationalities, etc... Not only do we accept diversity, but we actually look forward to it'
Wikimedia even had a conference about diversity.
So how do we share the mapping love with the broadest range of people?
I'm using this post to suggest we could make it more clear that our mission to 'provide free geographic data' should be backed up with more information around diversity:
A vision (to paraphrase Wikimedia): 'Imagine a map where every human being can freely create and access geographic data about the entire diversity of the world's culture, heritage and places. That's OpenStreetMap'
Short policy statement on equality and diversity to spell out that the Foundation does promote and up hold these values.
Board election manifestos should be mandated to include a section on how the candidate will address equality, diversity, bias etc.
Top ten OSM task list does include translating languages - which is great. I think the top ten task list should always include something around promoting a wider audience/diversity etc
What do you think?
More info on: Diversity mailing list