Today is International Women’s Day. It is timely that I share notes from our recent OSM and Gender discussion. About 20 women and allies joined to talk about gender issues in OSM. Some of the topics we touched on were: research on gender in OSM, gender experiences, code of conduct and next steps.
Some quotes on why having an OSM and Gender dialogue matters:
“I believe the map represents the world and the contributors to that map should all be representative. “ “Discuss/Learn what to avoid and what to do on regular basis to improve diversity.” “I joined because the tone on the mailing lists is not right.” “I’m part of Geochicas and we work towards having more participation of women in the community. We encourage women to create and be part of mapping projects lead by them.”
Over all, we aim to support a safe and inclusive OSM. This means collaborating with each other and you, the OSM community and the OSM supporters.
What does the data tell us?
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team performed a community survey. Of the 267 people who responded, 27% were women. In addition, HOT microgrants/device grants went to 40-45% women.
The YouthMappers community data - We estimate that about 40% of our 5,000 students are female from annual chapter reports. We also see that 25% of our 113 chapters in 35 countries have more than 50% female participation.
It is complex to give accurate and representative quantity of data on gender balance in OSM. For a community that focuses on tagging information to improve the ‘dataset’, it is very clear that there low focus on the baseline data in the demographic makeup of the contributor community. There is a misunderstanding on the need to achieve gender equality in OSM. In fact, there are some people are offended and challenged by this. The GeoChicas community is trying to obtain gender representation and relations data via a survey. Other research efforts continue to explore this topic. Participants on the call discussed how to get more data on the community to help support change and more equality.
How does the data differ (tagging, pathways by gender) and is it in the taxonomy?
At State of the Map Brussels 2016, there was a great talk about [gender and tagging/mapping] (https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tagging_in_Support_of_Women_and_Girls) in OSM. On the call, we reflected on the progress of this discussion and the need to support efforts to ensure that the data of OSM is more inclusive.
How the can the community improve on mailing lists - tone, attitudes?
Reflecting on the state of the OSM community, participants cited a sick culture, hostile, not welcoming for women and other genders. There have been frequent examples of this over the years. We cited some personal stories and then moved on to the question about: “how can we improve this?” We agreed that mailing lists need to moderated and that we all need to encourage a healthy experience on any OSM list. Some colleagues suggested that we move discussions to other places where there is moderation and where good etiquette is encouraged and supported. Perhaps we need to encourage moderation training and reminders for each list to support a culture of discussion without attacks. One person suggested that moderators could have a telegram private group in case of not being able to have a private list.
Code of Conduct
OSM has an [etiquette guidance}(https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Etiquette), but it is not enforced and sometimes not regarded. Participants of the OSM and Gender dialogue talked about reinforcing this with a Code of Conduct. In our discussion, we highlighted that there have been multiple conversations on the mailing list about this idea both ‘for’ and ‘against’. Colleagues from Public Lab shared their code of conduct as an example. Here is more about Public Lab’s code. There are many examples of community management tactics plus codes across open communities. here is a list of resources
It is very clear that there are ongoing issues in terms of tone and inclusive in OSM. Even though it was not a question posed by the HOT survey, a participant reported back that people cited it as an issue. “some participants mentioned they uncomfortable on mailing lists and OSMF mailing list.”
Another participant mentioned: “There isn’t a baseline of acceptable and non-acceptable speech. All the things that a code of conduct needs to describe.”
- Help wanted - can someone help lead an OSM and Gender discussion in a West coast Americas and Asia-friendly timezone? Just contact Heather or Kate to let us know. Or, leave a comment below.
- We will keep in touch in various places, including the Diversity-talk mailing list. Join us.
- Be an ally and help support positive interactions on all OSM community spaces.
- Join working groups and mailing lists. Encourage each other to support a positive OSM.
- Encourage all genders to map and consider how women and other genders can be represented by the big and wonderful OSM (the map and the global community).
- Help the GeoChicas community survey outreach (Twitter handle: @GeochicasOSM - Telegram Channel @Geochicasosm - Feel free to join, is mostly Spanish speaking women, but you are more than welcome to share your opinions with us!) Gender representation and relations survey: German: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScCNcfihYSwHYIyZoP9Lc4ihBsVUd2b-i99ktSuAauZeoKfJA/viewform Spanish: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScoTUj4HP2-KOH58pku7zkRmK843uXWhN7o_UazepfH2DbzKA/viewform?usp=sf_link French: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdHDUr4Gstrs8BqKEdbYs8gZznXR2_0leZMsSAwuo5Jo0LFaw/viewform?usp=sf_link English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf2-MoTnCgqc3Jnu1zValuh6enKzR_049k1aAQtR2sl9qEJsw/viewform?usp=sf_link Portuguese:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeJMYwvH3isV6hRE39RWsAjGaLfjRKvm26bveYeqXTSQFvXHg/viewform?usp=sf_link
On a final note, Kate and I wrote an article for the Open Organization Workbook about OSM and the community. In the piece, we reflected on some ideas on how OSM could be more inclusive. These OSM and Gender discussions build on this - we can all improve OSM and support each other.
Thanks to all the participants in the discussion. And, to all the allies in this ongoing conversation. Happy International Women’s Day.
Heather and Kate