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Quick question for the ClojureBridge community here. We're having discussions over at the F# software foundation slack about programs for underrepresented tech groups and I brought up the ClojureBridge project. I'm looking over the documents for organizing in the ClojureBridge repo, and I see the resource on a guide to men's attendance. What's the general consensus on coaches/organizers being men? It seems like that is less than ideal, obviously, but in certain areas where programmers, let alone functional programmers, are a rare breed, it seems unavoidable matter of statistics. Any anecdotes about what ClojureBridge groups have done to solve this problem?
it is quite common to still have men as coaches/organizers, but there are several things you can do to make the most of it
if you know women in your community that could coach, encourage them do to so, and if more coaches apply than needed then give preference to the women
if you have women on the organizer team then let them be on stage as much as possible, e.g. to do the introduction, make sure the men are prepared to take a back seat and be a bit more quiet than they usually might be
if you keep organizing workshops somewhat regularly, and cultivate your community with e.g. a project group, then after a year or two you'll have former attendees that are able to coach
if you have the budget you can even invite people to coach and/or come and do a lightning talk. We (Berlin) have considered inviting women from London, we've been lucky so far with sponsorship so we can afford to pay for a low-cost carrier
in smaller communities you might have to work with what you have, which might be just a handful of men. In that case at least make sure everyone is clued up
I figured that gradual evolution of the group from male-lead to non-majority group lead by way of the students would be the answer. Are there good examples of this being a successful tactic? My worry is that it might be difficult to gain traction for a workshop for minorities led by members of a majority group. It seems like it might potentially come across as insincere, or abrasive for people who might already be uncomfortable with learning programming in a group setting. What we could do to work towards making a handful of men as welcoming as possible for this sort of workshop?
plexus' suggestions are great and what I have always heard/given as tactical advice on this subject.
I like the way you're thinking, though, @johnppatterson. I think there are some really big, important questions at the root of this. What's going on when a group of guys need to impart their technology to people in marginalized groups? What's going on when there is an established new technology and there are no/almost no people from marginalized groups involved yet? Did anyone from a marginalized group ask for a workshop? If people from marginalized groups take your workshops, what is that going to do for them? Will it help them get a job? Will it grow their career?
I could go on and on. 🙂 But I have to say that when I start asking myself those questions about related efforts that I have been involved in, I come up with some answers that make me feel very, very uncomfortable.
I could certainly see similar efforts having a more jingoistic drive to them than they realize. That the project could become (or be initially) about injecting one's technologies/opinions where it hasn't necessarily been asked for or will be useful, and could be about using marginalized groups as a vector for their own platform instead of providing themselves as a means to other's ends. The answer could be: don't try to force what isn't naturally happening, but I also know that in places that are want of diversity, if a local group is not vocal about a learning space like ClojureBridge, I don't think many people would think to ask of something like ClojureBridge.
Yeah, it's complicated. All of the ClojureBridge workshops I have been involved in have been really great, really fun experiences. And it has definitely had a measurable effect on the number of women at Clojure events, at the very least.
I'm heartened to see that you are thinking a lot about these kinds of issues. I bet that means you'll come up with a good approach.
If you decide to go the *Bridge route, there is an organization called Bridge Foundry that helps them get going. It's the parent organization of RailsBridge.
Neato, I'll check it out and pass it on over at the F# foundation. Someone came into the foundation channel and asked about resources for minority developers, and I had heard of ClojureBridge before, but I didn't realize it was part of a bigger project as well. For most of the F# community I don't think this will be as big of a concern. There are some vocal, passionate, and awesome women doing F# and actively involved in the community, but I know they also tend to be clustered in areas like San Francisco or Seattle where there's a large development community. Remote locales present an interesting set of challenges for community outreach, let alone proactive outreach for marginalized groups.
Yep! totally. Same thing has been an issue for ClojureBridge. My favorite case is Minneapolis, which is hardly a tech hub, but has had something like 4-5 workshops.
@johnppatterson off the top of my head I’m aware of Rachel Reese and Donna Malayeri from F# stuff (although maybe Donna is not involved anymore, not sure), although you probably are familiar with both.
I'm not familiar. Fairly new to the F# community at large myself, so I'm still learning all the faces and names. The .NET Fringe conference in Portland a couple months back was my first introduction to the people behind the language.
Well Rachel and Donna are both awesome, so maybe they would point you to other great people/resources
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~donna/ - Donna worked on some part of the F# team at one point
Cool deal. It also seems that Rachel is doing a lot of work to spearhead education and community activities around F#. a mutual contact introduced me to Rachel as someone willing to lend a hand at getting an FSharpBridge type of grass roots program started. I'll talk to her some more and see where she weighs in on the whole thing. Thanks @alexmiller and @bridget !