Towards improving community diversity

I think Julia needs to focus a little more on diversity and to that end encouraging women to create Julia Ladies/JLadies/not sure which name groups would be great!

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To my best knowledge, Julia and Ada are the two only languages that use a female first name as the language name.

Which sadly doesn’t make things more inclusive :man_shrugging:

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Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s an advantage. I think a gender neutral name would be better. There have already been multiple instances in this forum of people personifying the language in a way that is not very inclusive.

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It’s explicitly against the Community Standards to do so. If you ever see it happening, please flag those posts so we moderators can take appropriate action.

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FWIW, I am here pretty much all the time and I have almost never seen this, at least not in the last year(s). So, while it still might happen, it doesn’t seem very prevailant, which is good!

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That’s an interesting article. Given the covid situation and the smaller number of users of Julia at the moment, I wonder if a virtual version would be a better place to start right now. Does R-Ladies have an online home?

Here: https://rladies.org/

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I think I probably did it some times. Coming from (Brazillian) Portuguese, I need to be always attentive. Portuguese does not have a neutral gender and every single thing has an arbitrary female or male gender (not an exclusivity of Portuguese, I know). Obviously, Julia is only a specific case, many times I end up slipping and using he/she for a random inanimate object just because I thought the word first in Portuguese and wrote the “right” pronoun without thinking.

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Inclusive?
I think nobody cares about the gender (nor race) of the programmer. Everybody can use Julia freely.race

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Unfortunately it is not that simple. Sexism in overt, structural, and implicit forms is very real and common, and it requires active work to combat.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Future directions of Julia

I think that @joaoui1 raised a good point and we shouldn’t shut that discussion down. Can you split that branch of the discussion to its own thread?

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Absolutely. The Julia project officially and firmly supports efforts towards improving diversity — it’s something we care about, measure, and work to improve.

Let’s focus this thread on concrete ways in which we can improve — but before posting please consider how your post will be read by all here and if it’s a necessary voice to add to the conversation. To be concrete, a JuliaLadies group won’t form because a bunch of men talk about it, especially if the discussion doesn’t make space for other voices.

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Because my preferred form of communication is sharing relevant webcomics:

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Well Guido from Python offered to mentor women, I don’t have the details but I have proof he did (https://twitter.com/gvanrossum/status/1043896961466798080?s=20)
So mentorship would be a good beginning.
Then probably encouraging the mentees to create “Julia Ladies” groups would probably help
And finally offer a few spots in next year JuliaCon for talks about these groups

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I think it would be good to hear from women here: What is it that you think would help women programmers most? What is it that seems to hold women back? Are there some positive changes that seemed to have made a difference? (If so, we should know. If it works, that is great.) Are there some steps the community took but that did not seem to be effective? (If so, we should know. Less of that then…)

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I know you’re coming from a good place, but I’m not terribly comfortable explicitly asking underrepresented groups to do additional work to improve their own representation. I’d rather just create an open space that is welcoming and affirming and allows for participation in a manner that’s (hopefully) comfortable to all.

We had a very productive BOF session in the 2020 JuliaCon that highlighted some of the things that have worked and some places where we can do better, and there’s ongoing dialog as a result of that.

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Right you are. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice to get some feedback?

I can’t speak for women but I find diversity talk interesting. I don’t know how many middle eastern people are here but probably not many as a percentage. So I guess I “qualify” to talk about diversity. I think to try to “understand” the problem, it helps to understand how we got here first. Julia was started by a few people at MIT so its initial audience was the group of friends and colleagues of the Julia founders at MIT and the collaborating institutes. I presume those were predominantly male. The Julia core team is predominantly male. This is one source of bias. And I don’t mean bias here in a bad way. I just mean it in a self-reflective way. I think bias happens and it’s natural.

The next group of people who probably joined the Julia community back then (according to my pure speculation, correct me if I am wrong) were people in tech and academia who were frustrated enough with existing technology that they decided to spend the extra time playing around with this new language. This probably included the JuMP folks, Chris of SciML, programming language and compiler enthusiasts and other Julia pioneers who were early adopters of the language. Those again seem to be predominantly male. Imo this is hugely influenced by the male to female ratio in the applied mathematics and computing schools and departments in those universities that had early exposure to Julia. This is another source of bias.

So when evaluating our diversity stats, to be fair we have to “correct” for the second point above by seeing how far off we are from the same diversity metrics in the fields predominant in the Julia community in the schools where most people in the Julia community come from. I am sure there is a statistically “correct” way to quantify this that isn’t too self-beating but also doesn’t deceivingly pat us on the back. This would be an interesting statistics project. Correcting for the first point is more difficult but maybe possible. Assuming that males tend to have more male than female friends, and people of a certain ethnicity tend to have more friends of the same ethnicity than any other, the “exposure” of a certain sub-group to Julia is probably going to follow some noisy S-shaped, pandemic-style curve in every sub-group. This is the “natural” flow of things. Understanding and quantifying how much “natural” growth is going to happen without much interference lets us predict how much worse the diversity numbers will get in the next years if nothing is done. But more importantly, it points at some good actions that can be taken to at least stop the numbers from getting worse or maybe even improve them.

Given the above, I think it’s somewhat obvious what needs to be done:

  1. Find fields, schools, universities and countries with more minority students and academics than average and promote Julia there. When talking about different countries, the language and culture barriers become an issue here as well.
  2. Give special opportunities to minorities in the community or those who want to join the community. Although that comes at a cost for the majority. Since opportunties are generally scarce, giving advantage to one group can disadvantage other groups. Finding the balance here is “not easy”, to say the least.
  3. Have more role models. This is really not something that we can just make happen. Whether someone reaches a “role model status” or not depends on a lot of factors, e.g. career choices, personality traits, level of Julia knowledge and experience, culture, etc. I think we already have a number of female “role models” in the Julia community so this may be one less thing that needs to be worked on :slight_smile:

Anyways, this post is getting too long for my liking and isn’t offering much beyond paraphrasing the “known” so I will stop here.

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