At the first meeting of the new OSMF Board, we discussed forming a Diversity Working Group, and I was charged to draft a scope of work. I appreciate the opportunity to take up the task to help get this effort moving. It’s fair to say that we all want participation in OpenStreetMap and the Foundation to be more representative of the whole of OSM and the world we want to map. This post sketches my thoughts on how we got here, and what this could look like. I’d love feedback. After some period of discussion, I’ll help organize a meeting (or set of meetings to accommodate time zones) to kick things off.
As background, the topic of diversity has been active for a long time in OpenStreetMap, in posts and mailing lists, including the dedicated diversity-talk@ list, discussed in Board election statements and QA for several years and at Board face to face meetings, and in person sessions at State of the Map. This year’s Board election of all white men from Europe and North America prompted active discussion across Twitter, OSM Diaries, and within the board email group. This discussion was at times difficult, and other times was productive. It became clear to me that there is a wide range of impression on what we all mean by “diversity”, the degree to which it’s a problem, if things should change, and how that change might be accomplished.
These discussions provide us with a broad set of topics to start thinking about an OSMF working group. I find it daunting, but at the same time we are provided with much to reflect on and work through on the topic of diversity. As the OSMF board, we are in a position to help the community channel these discussions into productive, impactful, data-driven and community oriented group. Structurally, this could take the form of a full working group, a working group with a time delimited lifespan, or a Board committee.
Here’s a proposal for questions the group might address
- What does diversity mean for OpenStreetMap and the OpenStreetMap Foundation?
- What open communities are successfully addressing diversity and how can we learn from them? For example, Guillaume suggested looking at the Python Diversity Statement as a good starting point.
- How diverse is the OSM/OSMF currently? How will the group measure and conduct research to find out? What research and data already exists?
- What are the root causes and systematic issues within our community that could be addressed to improve diversity?
- What actions can be taken to improve? Where are the biggest opportunities for community growth? This could include a wide array of approaches, from recruiting more people to OSM/F, mentorship, work on inclusion in our interaction and communication, or a hundred other things. The actions wouldn’t be the responsibility of the group to implement alone. Most likely this would involve coordination with working groups, the Board, and community.
- What is the timeline to checkin and evaluate these efforts? What’s working, what isn’t and why? Where do we need to iterate on approaches?
Again, I want to hear from you all on this sketch, what such a group should focus on, and if you’d like to be involved. This effort itself is going to work best with a diverse group of people. Please add your comments here on this diary entry; or link in a diary comment to posts on the channel of your choice. If you’d rather communicate privately, you can send me a message through osm.org.