Joshua, I don't think there is anything I can really add to what you've, in
my mind, summed up perfectly.
Six years ago, after a regrettable incident of insensitivity that I was
directly involved in , we had a similar period of reflection and
discussion about the culture we wanted to foster here. Roy said something
at the time that has stuck with me, "the group that is the dominant
majority cannot understand what it's like to be an underrepresented
minority and therefore cannot dictate how they integrate into your group".
Or something. I'm paraphrasing, it was 6 years ago or so, after all.
Anyway, the point is, it's not up to you to determine how other people
should feel about something if you want to include them in your community.
So, while, like Joshua says, it stings that we apparently haven't come far
enough that we don't need, as Bohyun called them, IGs, who are we to object
if that's what makes the place more welcoming (which, really, should be the
1. I won't go into detail, but it's a source of shame and guilt and
something I've regretted since it happened. But it did happen and I own it.
Ultimately, however, it had the positive effect of both changing me and,
more importantly, was the catalyst for making Code4lib a far more inviting
place, which gives me hope -- applied toward the tech community at large --
for the redemptive quality of humanity when it has the will to do so.
On Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM, Joshua Gomez <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The past week or so I've been struggling to understand the reason for the
> strong opinions against a women's support group as a subbranch of code4lib
> or as an external entity. One argument is the reverse discrimination
> argument. I'm not sure how many have actually been making this argument
> but it has definitely been made by some. I have little sympathy for this
> argument. Perhaps it makes logical sense when the situation is looked at in
> a very narrow perspective, but in the larger view which takes account of
> social context and history, it loses validity. And I don't think that
> reverse discrimination is the true concern of most of those that have
> voiced opinions against a sub-community for women (at least I hope not).
> Others have mentioned they fear that a subgroup will only decrease the
> diversity within code4lib by pulling women away from it and into the new
> group. This was my initial concern as well, but when I look at other kinds
> of women in tech groups I realize that they don't decrease women's
> participation in mainstream groups. In fact they help boost women's
> profiles and skill sets, thus increasing their likelihood of participating
> in mainstream groups.
> I may be way off base here, but I think there is also something else going
> on besides those first two concerns. I think there is also a collective
> fear of shame and failure. I think many of the white males in this
> community truly are sensitive to issues of equality and they want to show
> their support by making code4lib a place known for supporting diversity and
> equality. When a group which feels treated as less than equals creates a
> support group for themselves that creates public shame for the original
> group for failing to achieve its goals of equality. What's more, the idea
> of a splinter group came so soon on the heels of the original thread about
> the anti-harassment policy. The policy suggestion received a very large and
> very immediate showing of support from the community. So splintering now
> just as the community is showing what it can do to support diversity and
> equality is particularly frustrating.
> I can sympathize with those feelings. But perhaps the support shown last
> week was simply too little too late. Especially considering that there are
> those still pressing the first argument mentioned and making the situation
> uncomfortable. And since I am not a member of the group that has been
> discriminated against I don't think I or anyone else not in that group
> should try to dissuade them from doing what is in their best interest.
> Joshua Gomez
> Digital Library Programmer Analyst
> George Washington University Libraries
> 2130 H St, NW Washington, DC 20052
> (202) 994-8267
> On Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 3:46 PM, Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I'm all for people creating new social structures to move themselves
> > forward doing it however they see fit. The internet is a big place, and
> > there's room for more. In this case, though, I hope it will be an "and"
> > operation, not an exclusive "or". I would be happy to hear that a new
> > formed and that it's going well. I would be disappointed if people in
> > group ended up moving away from this one big group. It happens, and I'd
> > over it, sure, but it'd still be disappointing. We gain something by
> > gathering together like we have here. It's not exclusive, nor should it
> > But code4lib has added so much to me and my work that I know how much I
> > stand to lose if we do not also keep working to stick together, however
> > difficult that can be sometimes. Respectfully yours, -Dan
> > The way to make that happen is to make the larger group welcoming, fair,
> > non-hostile. I've seen some real hostility around this idea of creating a
> > place for women -- not just people thinking it might not be as good as
> > being a single group, but real hostility. I suspect there was less
> > hostility about setting up a Python group, or about setting up local
> > groups. Removing the "difficulty" is the best way to keep everyone
> > together. I definitely do not feel, today, like I'm welcomed, mainly
> > because of the strength of the arguments against an idea that came from
> > women. And remember, there wasn't a felt need to create an
> > policy against Pythoners. These are not analogous situations.
> > kc
> > --
> > Karen Coyle
> > [log in to unmask] http://kcoyle.net
> > ph: 1-510-540-7596
> > m: 1-510-435-8234
> > skype: kcoylenet