Hi everyone,

Pine and I had this exchange in diversity which I thought might be of interest 
more broadly so reposting here. 



> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Victoria Coleman <vcole...@wikimedia.org>
> Subject: Re: How to increase the diversity of Wikimedia technical 
> contributors and staff?
> Date: August 9, 2017 at 2:33:03 AM GMT-4
> To: Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com>
> Cc: "Addressing gender equity and exploring ways to increase the 
> participation of women within Wikimedia projects." 
> <gender...@lists.wikimedia.org>, Angel Lewis <ale...@wikimedia.org>, Maggie 
> Dennis <mden...@wikimedia.org>
> Pine,
> thank you for bringing up this important topic. The Google internal memo 
> certainly brought the diversity issue in sharp relief. I don’t profess to be 
> an expert on diversity in STEM but I do want to share some thoughts based on 
> my own professional experience as well as some academic research that I have 
> recently come across. 
> The first thing to note is participation of women in computer science is 
> actually growing. For example, in  2015 Computer Science was the top major 
> for women at Stanford 
> (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-women-technology-stanford-idUSKCN0S32F020151009
> <http://www.reuters.com/article/us-women-technology-stanford-idUSKCN0S32F020151009>).
>  I serve on the Advisory Board of the Computer Engineering Department at 
> Santa Clara University and although the numbers are not as striking, the 
> proportion of women has been steadily increasing. Of course women represent 
> only one dimension of the diversity issue but perhaps the patterns here may 
> be instructive for other groups. So I don’t think this is a “pipeline” issue 
> any more. I am sure it once was (certainly it was when I started my career) 
> but it is not so now. So if more women and minorities enter STEM professions 
> why is it that we have so little representation of these groups in mid and 
> senior levels? Well, the answer seems to be that people in these groups leave 
> STEM careers in much greater numbers than other groups. So it seems to be a 
> problem of retention vs intake. Academic research that I have recently come 
> across from UC Irvine, MIT, Rice and McGill makes for interesting reading as 
> we try to unpack why this is the case. In [1], the authors make a shocking 
> (to me) statement:
>       “The field of engineering is a particularly robust site for 
> understanding gendered processes of professional socialization because it 
> remains the most gender-segregated field among STEM occupations at all career 
> stages”
> Why this is the case is certainly a topic that merits both research, analysis 
> and action. In [2] the researchers found that unfairness drives turnover and  
> that unfairness is most pronounced in the tech industry especially in women 
> of all backgrounds and underrepresented men of color. [3] argues that 
> professional role confidence, in other words an individual’s confidence in 
> their ability to successfully fulfill the roles, competencies, and identity 
> features of a profession, and women’s lack of this confidence , compared to 
> men, reduces their likelihood of remaining in engineering majors and careers. 
> These are my thoughts and I warmly welcome those of others in the community. 
> We have a lot of work to do to understand the diversity dynamics in our 
> communities. The Foundation is committed and actively engaged in 
> understanding the diversity challenges within staff and the volunteer 
> community. Some of our initiatives are captured in 
> https://office.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diversity_and_Inclusion 
> <https://office.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diversity_and_Inclusion> but I am sure 
> there is lot more that can and should be done. 
> Best regards,
> Victoria
> [1] C. Seron, S.S. Silbey, E. Cech, B. Rubineau, Persistence Is Cultural: 
> Professional Socialization and the Reproduction of Sex Segregation, Work and 
> Occupations, Vol. 43(2) 178-214, 2016
> [2] Tech Leavers Study: A first-of-its-kind analysis of why people 
> voluntarily left jobs in tech, Ford Foundation, Kapor Center for Social 
> Impact, April 27, 2017
> [3] E. Cech, B. Rubineau, S. Silbey, C. Serron, Professional Role Confidence 
> and Gendered Persistence in Engineering, American Sociological Review, Vol 
> 76(5), 641-666, 2011
>> On Aug 6, 2017, at 10:31 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com 
>> <mailto:wiki.p...@gmail.com>> wrote:
>> I read the unofficial Google internal memo that has been the subject of some 
>> controversy, and upon reading it my Wikipedian-trained instincts were to 
>> wonder where the citations were that should, if they were available, have 
>> supported numerous assertions that were made in that memo. I'm not an expert 
>> in diversity -- and I suspect that the author of that memo isn't, either. In 
>> the absence of verifiable and reliable sources, I'm skeptical of numerous 
>> assertions that were made in that document.
>> This leads me a question that I've had in mind for awhile. How can we 
>> increase the diversity of Wikimedia technical contributors and staff? I'm 
>> referring both to gender diversity and racial diversity (people of African 
>> descent appear to be significantly under-represented).
>> My unscientific hunch is that what would help is increasing people at young 
>> ages to consider a career in a science, technology, engineering, or math 
>> ("STEM") field, and then continuing to support their interest from 
>> elementary school through college. 
>> (Personal story: I was a poor performer at math in middle school and at one 
>> point I emotionally gave up on the subject, yet I did significantly better 
>> when I reached college and (a) had instructors whose styles were more 
>> compatible with how I learn and (b) had classroom environments that were 
>> more supportive of learning.)
>> I don't know to what extent Wikimedia should be involved in encouraging 
>> people at early ages to become interested and stay involved with STEM, and I 
>> think that we should ask ourselves if perhaps this is an area in which we 
>> should make some financial and time investments, with the goal of 
>> facilitating development of diverse candidates into engineering and 
>> technical roles for the community as well as organizations like WMDE and 
>> WMF. We probably shouldn't be steering people at young ages to make 
>> long-term commitments to STEM or the Wikimedia ecosystem, but perhaps we 
>> could take some actions that would at least encourage them if they seem to 
>> be interested in STEM to continue their academic growth in those domains. I 
>> don't know if there is data that explains how gender and racial disparities 
>> develop and how to address them, but my hunch is that the earlier that the 
>> issues are addressed, the better.
>> I don't know what other options to suggest; perhaps people here will have 
>> some ideas. I'd particularly like to invite Victoria to the conversation; 
>> perhaps she can comment sometime in the next several days (probably not for 
>> several hours, since this is still Sunday evening on the US west coast).
>> Hoping to hear some thoughtful discussion,
>> Pine

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