Explicit Invitations: Passion is Not Enough for True Diversity

*
Accepted Session
Keynote
Beginner
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 from 9:00 – 9:45am in Sanctuary

Excerpt

Open Source suffers from a lack of diversity. Underrepresented populations, for systemic reasons, might never show up unless Open Source communities 'hack' themselves through explicit invitation & removing barriers to participation. Mozilla is funding two pilot studies designed to explicitly reach out to underrepresented groups in open source today. Seeking people who like to solve problems and then engaging them in a 6 week, full time accelerator program we hope to explore the question: Can we seed our communities by hacking the social/cultural/systemic issues in order to gain technical contributions from a more diverse set of minds and give to participants an experience in tech that might have long term benefits to them?

Description

The Ascend Project is a 6 week, full time course that removes many barriers and allows participants time and support as they focus on learning typical open source practices: IRC, bug trackers, code review, committing patches, and the larger opportunities available to users & developers of the open web. The curriculum will focus on setting people up to succeed, getting hooked on solving problems with code, and being a part of a bigger community with a mission for global good. The intention is to provide a counter the manner in which many populations are either completely ignored, or sometimes pushed away from participation in computer science and open source contributions when it costs too much to join in.

This talk will focus on the planning and execution (up to this point) of a project that is holding its first pilot here in Portland this September and then a second one in New Orleans at the start of 2015.

  • Now that it’s a keynote, this section is more for hallway track

I would like this talk to be rather informal where I can spend a bit of time explaining the origins, building process, and current state of the project. At the time of OSBridge we should have nearly completed the selection of participants for the Portland pilot. After attendees of this talk have the backstory I’d like to have a more interactive discussion about how to engage partners, other communities, what growth/scalability of something like this could look like, what success metrics could be, and other brainstorming that might come up at the time when more is known about the realities of this venture.

Loose breakdown of concepts covered:

  • How do you propose & budget for this?
  • Who does what? This is bigger than one person can do alone!
  • Developing Curriculum
  • Gathering partners
  • Putting out the call for participants – what was expected? what actually happened?
  • How do we set people up for success?
  • What will we do to maintain this community after the program is over?
  • How can we integrate this new cohort of open source contributors into an existing open source community?
  • Brainstorming on what matters when creating an open source community where one does not yet exist

Recommended Reading:

Tags

diversity, training, teaching, Open Source, curriculum design, partnerships, mozilla, outreach, community building

Speaking experience

(link formatting seems to hate me, but here goes)

* Panel at OSBridge - "Good news for diversity in open source 2012-2013":http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/1051.
* MozCamp Asia - "Release Management at Mozilla":https://wiki.mozilla.org/MozCampAsia2012/Schedule/desktopandmobile/Release-Management.
* PyGotham 2011 - "Boosting the numbers: Python for Women and Doing Distributed Organizing of Workshops":http://pyvideo.org/speaker/283/lukas-blakk.
* Grace Hopper Conference 2011 - spoke as part of a panel about creating teaching initiatives targeting diversity in Open Source

Speaker

  • Photo on 4 4 14 at 4.37 pm

    Lukas Blakk

    Mozilla

    Biography

    Lukas Blakk’s day job is Release Management for Firefox products at Mozilla and beyond that she has spent the last several years creating and growing partnerships between Mozilla and various diversity initiatives that promote open learning and removing barriers for people who might be interested in coding & working with open web technologies if it felt safe and welcoming. She is always looking for more ways to engage with people who are interested in open tech but just need a little bit of help finding their way in. These initiatives have included PyStar: Python workshops for women, running HTML5 mobile game hacking workshops with teenage girls, and most recently starting a Women Hacking Glass monthly meetup at the Mozilla SF office to get women access to this limited release early hardware. Lukas has been working to help increase the participation of women in Open Source through WoMoz, Mozilla Reps, and sitting on the advisory and planning committee for the Dare 2B Digital conference as well as the Ada Initiative. Her newest project is a pilot study of an open source version of the “hacker school” style accelerator, called the Ascend Project, that specifically seeks participants from African American, Latin@, First Nations, and LGBTQ (focus on the T) communities and aims to provide an immersive experience doing technical contributions in the form of writing tests for an automated test framework.

    Lukas strives to be an activist for feminist, anti-racist, social justice with a genderqueer and working class lens. You can find her on Twitter at @lsblakk.

    Sessions

      • Title: Explicit Invitations: Passion is Not Enough for True Diversity
      • Track: Hacks
      • Room: Sanctuary
      • Time: 9:009:45am
      • Excerpt:

        Open Source suffers from a lack of diversity. Underrepresented populations, for systemic reasons, might never show up unless Open Source communities ‘hack’ themselves through explicit invitation & removing barriers to participation. Mozilla is funding two pilot studies designed to explicitly reach out to underrepresented groups in open source today. Seeking people who like to solve problems and then engaging them in a 6 week, full time accelerator program we hope to explore the question: Can we seed our communities by hacking the social/cultural/systemic issues in order to gain technical contributions from a more diverse set of minds and give to participants an experience in tech that might have long term benefits to them?

      • Speakers: Lukas Blakk