Increasing Diversity in Open Source for a Better Internet
We propose initiating a diversity program that maps the various entry and participation obstacles that exist in various OS projects, and empower current OS volunteers from underrepresented communities to tackle these obstacles in a collaborative, concrete way.
The program’s primary goal would be to research and map the various
obstacles and challenges underrepresented groups face in regards to entry and continued participation. This includes documenting case studies of both successes and failures. Not only can this provide us with an understanding of how challenges differ from project to project, they can also help us analyze how diversity plays out in various OS community environments.
During the research process we will identify OS leaders from underrepresented communities who can serve on an advisory board focused on crafting effective, collaborative approaches and solutions based on their collective experiences that, at the same time, can be tapped for guidance and knowledge by various OS projects. We will identify ways to empower these individuals to serve as human bridges and recruiters for their specific sub groups. Most importantly, we will amplify these individuals’ voices by providing them with a platform to share their concerns, experiences, and recommendations.
The second goal of the program will be to disseminate collected knowledge, and help projects adapt best practices that lead to more open, diversity friendly working environments for volunteers. We anticipate this will take many forms from the creation of a virtual resource center, to cross-cultural trainings and consultation. Most importantly, we will use this phase to trigger and guide conversations among the wider OS community so that more efforts and attention are shifted to identified problems.
Lastly, outreach strategies will be designed and executed to bring in groups not strongly represented in OS. This may include helping members from the advisory board secure speaking engagements in their local communities, executing an outreach campaign, and/or using social media to identify and cultivate potential volunteers. Much of this work, however, will be influenced by what the research reveals.
To initiate the program, the focus will be on helping the community behind OS anti-surveillance and anti-censorship technology, paying particular attention to groups already funded by the Knight Foundation. Possible facets of the program include:
- Research and map the various entry and participation challenges as reported by current members of underrepresented communities.
- Identify and empower current OS volunteers who could serve as human bridges and ambassadors, and work with them to create programs and solutions.
- Organize cross-cultural communication workshops at project-specific events or provide cross-cultural communication trainings to OS boards.
- Compile a list of diversity “best practices” and case studies of successes and failures.
- Launch a central resource repository of tools, organizations and programs.
For Underrepresented Communities:
- Develop and execute outreach strategies to bring in more diverse groups to the OS community.
- With the help of existing community members, help improve the onboarding process for various tools. Additionally, ensure mentorship channels are established properly.
- Provide current OS volunteers from underrepresented communities with a platform to share their grievances and recommendations.