Diversity and Inclusion in the Julia community

It is no secret that the Julia community, like many other communities in science and technology, has a diversity problem and this year, we’re actively working to fix it.

Brief history of diversity efforts within the Julia community
There have been a handful of great initiatives to try and increase diversity within the Julia community in the past few years. Some of these include providing funding to underrepresented minorities to attend JuliaCons in the past, Julia Computing providing financial support in the form of small grants to multiple diversity initiatives (more here), and continuously having open conversations about diversity during JuliaCon’s birds-of-a-feathers sessions. Nevertheless, we saw this year in the Julia User & Developer Survey that for example, less people identified as underrepresented in science or computing (slide 37), and women representation remained at 3% (slide 35), as compared to the numbers from 2019. For these reasons and more, the discussion at JuliaCon2020’s BoF on diversity and inclusion led to the creation of a small group that is devoted to increasing diversity in the Julia community via active initiatives and providing support whenever needed. The group is currently working on diversity initiatives in several different forms, and even though the group has only been around for a couple months, things are already starting to look promising. Below, we summarize the strategies we’ve taken and some action items we are currently working on.

Our current diversity initiatives
So far, we have identified three major areas to work on to achieve better representation and inclusion in the Julia community and these are:

  • Recruitment. The goal here is to expand our outreach to include groups that aren’t well represented in the Julia community. Action items:
    • Continuous outreach to groups/organizations/colleges whose communities identify as underrepresented in science and computing and offering them Julia workshops given by Julia experts.
    • Changing the time of our “Julia Beginner Ask Us Anything” event every time we offer it to include as many time zones as possible and make it accessible to people all over the world.
  • Education: Recruitment alone can easily be ineffective if a support system wasn’t created – and this is the purpose of this item (Education) and the following item (Engagement and Support). The goal here is to provide educational material to beginners as well as communities speaking a non-English language as their primary language. Action items:
    • JuliaES is an organization currently creating Julia educational material in Spanish.
    • Julia beginner ask us anything is an event that we started to host once every month while rotating time zones. We are currently in the process of redesigning these events to allow for anonymous questions to make these events even more beginner friendly.
  • Engagement and Support: As mentioned earlier, this item is part of creating a support system and is meant to provide an inclusive environment to new Julia users and contributors.
    • Discourse: currently working on improving moderation on discourse, and creating a system to support enforcing the community guidelines.
    • Exercism.io: Exercism is a platform for code practice and mentorship, and Julia is now a track there.
    • Establishing a group for underrepresented genders in the Julia community (similar to PyLadies or RLadies).

Our invitation to you
This group was established on a purely volunteer basis and can use some help to expand our initiatives or support existing ones. If this topic sounds interesting to you, join us at our next Julia D&I call, or feel free to request joining our slack group.

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Thank you for organizing this!

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I don’t really think the point here is to discuss how julia is doing relative to other programming language communities or even to find the ‘root of the problem’, it’s to discuss what actionable efforts have been made in this community so far, and what we can do next.

I think discussing comparisons to other communities or discussing ‘root problems’ is important, but honestly not very relevant to what @nassarhuda is getting at here.

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To echo what Mason said above, the D&I calls are monthly meetups for the D&I working group. The core focus is on taking action and working together to find ways to advance the mission of D&I in our community.

If you want to understand the root cause of the lack of diversity in tech, I’m guessing there’s lots of literature out there on that. Also, making comparison against other languages doesn’t really provide much value given the end goal of D&I. We don’t just want to be better than (insert your second favorite programming language) from a diversity point of view, we want a truly diverse and representative Julia community.

The key takeaway from the JuliaCon BoF is that we need to make progress and take action. We are unlikely to solve all of the systemic issues that cause a lack of D&I but again, the goal of this working group (in my opinion) is to execute on specific projects/initiatives that individuals in the group think will move the needle (recruitment being one of these).

Jeremey, if you have projects you think that will have a lot of impact and want to invest some time into bringing them to life, feel free to get in touch!

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This discussion remembered me of:

I am not saying this is a mirror of @JeremyCavanagh opinion. It just came to my mind as a more extreme (and hypocritical) take on the “root of the problem” issue. The fact is, for most problems we really care about solving, it is impossible for most of us to directly attack the general version of the problem in a significant fashion. We need to do what we can in our very limited scope. See also the tale of Dukdukdiya.

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Great News. As an Spanish speaker, this initiative are very important. I will jopin to JuliaEs group and see the exercism track

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