The D&I Community Panel in EuroPython 2022

· Iqbal Abdullah

Diversity & Inclusion in the Python Community Panel – EuroPython 2022

Between 13th to 17th July 2022 I attended EuroPython with Siang which was organized by the European Python Society (EPS) in Dublin. I was invited as a panelist speaker for the Diversity and Inclusion discussion panel session.

The panelists

Our moderator was Naomi Ceder and my other panelists were Tereza Iofciu, Nabanita Roy and Marlene Mhangami.

Nabanita is working to open up doors for women within the tech space in Ireland through education, specifically within the AI space. Tereza, Marlene and myself are part of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Work Group of the PSF.

If you’re not aware of Naomi’s work within the context of D&I, I’m afraid it’s too long to do justice for me to write it in this blog post. She has recently been awarded the PSF Distinguished Service Award, and I suggest you start there if you’re interested to know more.

True to EuroPython, I believe we had a healthy non-US centric panelist with considerable knowledge on diversity and inclusion wins and challenges within our community, with strong questions from Naomi.

The session page on the 2022 EuroPython website gives a general overview introducing the speakers.

What it was all about

The panelists and moderator had a discussion prior to the session to discuss what we would like to present to the audience. These are some of the points that we found beneficial to bring up:

  • Self introductions: Who you are, where you are from, and what drives your interest in D&I. What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
  • Background of D&I Work Group.
  • What do we see as the biggest challenge to increasing diversity and inclusion in Python communities, either globally or in communities we know well?
  • What project or initiatives would you cite as being particularly successful or promising in fostering diversity and inclusion in your communities or globally?
  • What is your take on how we can encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to register as PSF voting members and as important, to vote in PSF elections for board?
  • As this is EuroPython, maybe something European focused for our audience for Nabanita and Tereza: Regardless of what D&I or the US based PSF thinks about diversity and inclusion, what do they mean to you from an European perspective, being one of the most diverse places on the planet?
  • Questions from the audience?

Takeaways

We need and can do more for a more diverse and inclusive community. More doors needed to be opened and more safe spaces needed to be created for under represented groups.

Initiatives such as DjangoGirls, PyLadies and Python Bootcamp which has proven to be effective in giving access and opportunities should be propagated to other communities as well. Travel and student grants to attend conferences are as important, and need to be considered by all conference organizers. This is where monetary support to the Python Software Foundation (PSF) and also sponsorship to the conferences play an important part.

But in the end, what works best for a community can only be known and decided upon by that community itself. As Nabanita also pointed out, some of the hurdles in realizing inclusivity and inclusion, can be from the community itself, from previously held so-called “traditional” values. These might be too large for a single person or a panel discussion to dissect and do anything about.

This is where I believe cultivating community leaders is important: Not all D&I objectives are the same for each community, and community leaders can take learnings from other communities to figure out how to best approach a particular D&I objective.

Understanding these differences and working towards a common goal of shared values is also what D&I is all about.

We should have a D&I panel or sharing session such as these for each of our major conferences, if not all of them. Other than creating an opportunity for community leaders to get together and share knowledge, it is also an opportunity for members of the community to get in touch with aspects that helps us grow and the issues that comes with it.

A group picture of the panelists and moderator after the session, with Vicky. Picture credit goes to @whykay