[Osmf-talk] Gender in OSM/OSMF

Tim Elrick osm at elrick.de
Tue Nov 28 23:45:03 UTC 2017

'One would hope that we welcome all', indeed. However, the few
scientific studies that looked into gender and other social biases in
OSM (e.g. study by Steinmann, et al. [1], Stephens/Rondinone [2] or
Uhlmann, et al. [3]) suggest that these biases prevail. The OSM
community still is dominated by young, white, middle-class males with a
tecchy background (me included, although the young doesn't hold anymore).

Anyone who follows OSM discussions will notice a specific communication
style - I would describe it as open and pretty direct/blunt (which
adheres to specific cultural traits, that can be found in male-tecchy
dominated communication as well as e.g. 'German style' communication);
the above mentioned studies suggest that quite some people interested in
participating in OSM could be deterred by such a communication style
(and I just want to remind you about the discussion of Severin's
contribution a couple of days ago). Please note, that I do not say one
cannot get accustomed to this style and if you do, you find out that
most communication is not intended to be disrespectful or unfriendly at
all, but more often e.g. protective of one's work,
surprised-that-someone-does-not-understand-the-priorities-in-OSM, etc.

We can also find (gender) in the features mapped: while we have a quite
sophisticated use and differentiation of brothels, we still miss this
use and differentiation in childcare (yes, there are a lot of
amenity=kindergarten, but if you compare amenity=brothel to
amenity=preschool/nursery/creche ...). My point here is that the
interests of the persons mapping, of course, reflects in the features
mapped; and I am glad it does; however, apparently, we are still missing
the caring fathers and mothers who map the pre-schools.

So, as much as I value the OSM eco system and its distinctive
communication style and dealings, if we want to broaden our contributor
base and overcome some of the social biases (of course, there are
economic biases, too), I guess, we have to think about our communication
style and dealings with each other, too.


[1] Renate Steinmann, Elisabeth Häusler, Silvia Klettner, Manuela
Schmidt and Yuwei Lin 2013: Gender Dimensions in UGC and VGI: A
Desk-Based Study, http://hw.oeaw.ac.at/0xc1aa500d_0x002e6e72.pdf
[2] Monica Stephens, Antonella Rondinone (2012): Presentation at the
Association of American Geographers' Annual Meeting in New York:
Gendering the GeoWeb,
[3] J. Uhlmann, F. Tommasini, H.-J. Stark (2010): Presentation at the
FOSSGIS e.V. annual meeting in Osnabrück, Germany: Empirische
Untersuchung der Motivation von Teilnehmenden bei der freiwilligen
Erfassung von Geodaten, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz.

Am 27.11.2017 um 08:28 schrieb john whelan:
One would hope that we welcome all no matter what gender they declare
themselves as or if they declare themselves at all.

Having people declare their gender means leaving them open to "trolls"
and many feel safer not doing so.

>From my work validating and giving feedback its apparent that you cannot
assume the gender from the user name and I know of a number of people
that would rather be judged by their contributions than by their gender.

Cheerio John

On 27 November 2017 at 03:05, Heather Leson <heatherleson at gmail.com
<mailto:heatherleson at gmail.com>> wrote:

    Dear OSMF members

    I'd like to re-open a discussion about gender in this community. 
    How can we improve the gender balance? I know there are some amazing
    leaders and best practices. It would be great to hear from women and
    other genders that are often rare voices. Kate posted about
    diversity this summer. Let's build on this.

    As much as I've been vocal during this period, I tend to read and
    not comment on this forum. The reason for that is partially due to
    the tone. OSM can only truly global if we keep working on this.

    Also, would the "actions" from this discussion flow to the
    membership working group? I notice that there are no women listed on
    the wiki for this group. Maybe we need a "gender chair" to really
    follow through. The "membership working group" does not appear to
    have the offical responsibilty to improve the community experience.
    If not the "membership working group" to take up this gap, then
    maybe we need a balanced "community working group" .

    Thank you and have a good day,


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