Thursday, April 23, 2015

Finding global voices

On the psf-members mailing list today, current Director David Mertz expressed some sentiments about increasing diversity in the governance of the foundation that I'd like to share.  Making the Python community, and the Python Software Foundation itself, more diverse, globally and across dimensions of privilege is something we have been striving for very consciously for years. Here's what he wrote (re-posted with his permission):
This year, as for the last bunch of years, I'll be the election administrator in the upcoming election. This will have some candidates for the Board of Directors of the PSF, and probably a few other issues like Sponsor Members approvals or membership resolutions.
    This year, as in past Board elections, I will use "approval voting" again. This will be explained again when you get ballots and announcements here. But the general idea is that each voter can cast as many Approve votes as they wish to for the 11 seats. A voter might vote for only the one candidate they really like to avoid diluting that vote. Or they might vote for every candidate except the one they really don't like as an "anyone but" vote. Or, in most cases, voters will vote for some number of candidates whom they feel generally comfortable with or prefer, and skip voting for any others.
    I give this preface to explain how I intend to vote. I am a white, male, middle-class, middle-aged, cis-gendered, American who has been on the Board for a long while. I may or may not run for it again (my name is on the wiki now with no candidate description, but mostly as a placeholder to get some permission issues sorted out for editing the wiki).
    But what I REALLY want is to have a PSF Board that is less American, less white, less male (and ideally represents diversity along other dimensions also: religious, sexual identities, linguistic, disability, etc). So I earnestly urge any or all PSF members, or their friends and colleagues, or other members of the Python community, or general supporters of Free Software, who might consider serving on the Board to place themselves in nomination, or allow themselves to be so placed.
    Serving on the Board is a genuine commitment of time and effort, and carries a fiduciary obligation. It's not just an item to put on a resume, and I don't want names of Directors from subaltern* groups there just as names alone. But I really do want those names as people who actively participate in making our community both more vigorous and more diverse.
    Which is to say, that for MY own vote, I can pledge to vote Approve to any candidate with a minimal indication of commitment to the selfless, volunteer tasks involved who doesn't look or sound quite so much like myself.
    Please, wonderful potential candidates, step up and let me cast these votes!
[*] In critical theory and postcolonialism, subaltern is the social group who are socially, politically and geographically outside of the hegemonic power structure of the colony and of the colonial homeland. In describing "history told from below", the term subaltern derived from Antonio Gramsci's work on cultural hegemony, which identified the social groups who are excluded from a society's established structures for political representation, the means by which people have a voice in their society.
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at