[Osmf-talk] Gender in OSM/OSMF

john whelan jwhelan0112 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 29 00:25:28 UTC 2017

One of the challenges is that introverted, low self monitors and those who
are either autistic or display some of the symptoms are attracted to
*like computer programming and mapping simply because they aren't
particularly social creatures.  They can be very single minded and very

I think my favourite quote is about the job requirements for quants.
"Social skills are not a job requirement."  I can certainly bring to mind
one programmer I've worked with.  She could grasp complexities I couldn't,
and the work was robust and excellent but on the social skills side if you
think I'm blunt well she would be off the scale at times.

The challenge is identifying the issues that people feel uncomfortable
about but whether we can address every one to everyone's satisfaction I
doubt.  Locally one neighbour took it into his head to steal women's
underwear.  I seem to recall he eventual managed to murder someone a year
or two ago.  However another neighbour now in her early twenties has been
left in a state where she gets uncomfortable with any male who is not

I used to hire librarians because they were cheaper than computer
consultants.  They were excellent at the technical writing side.  Perhaps
one approach would be to find someone to clean up the documentation
although how you'd do that in a wiki I'm not sure.

Cheerio John

On 28 November 2017 at 18:45, Tim Elrick <osm at elrick.de> wrote:

> '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, annoyed-why-newbies-cannot-read-the-wiki-first,
> 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.
> Tim
> [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, https://www.slideshare.net/geographiliac/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>
> 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,
>> Heather
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