Black Lives Matter. Ending systemic racism matters.
It’s no secret that the entire tech industry, open hardware included, has had a long standing shortfall in diversity. There are many people who have studied and shared stories about being Black in tech. With the recent events bringing systemic racism to the forefront in America, each industry should be doing some massive soul searching, figuring out ways in which their industry can better themselves and be more inclusive.
Open source culture has been problematic for minorities as long as it has been around. The Open Hardware Movement was acutely aware of this issue when we became a formal organization and baked diversity into our mission at OSHWA. Here are the steps that OSHWA takes to embrace diversity at our annual Open Hardware Summit. We urge other organizations to take similar actions:
- All of our Summits since 2013 have had a Code of Conduct – with a reporting mechanism – to provide a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.
- Since 2013, OSHWA has provided travel grants to our Summit for minority participation through the Ada Lovelace Fellowship. These grants were initially created for women, but opened up to all minorities in our community a few years back. Each year, one third of our entire Summit budget goes to bringing minorities to the Open Hardware Summit. This allows about 10 participants to travel to and attend the Summit who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
- We invite 25% of our speakers each year to ensure diversity on a number of levels. The other 75% of speakers go through a self-nomination and review process. We review this process every year, and began taking steps in March to further improve its ability to identify a diverse group of speakers for the 2021 Summit.
We recognize these are small steps. As a community, we can agree the bare minimum is listening to minority groups and believing them. We can do more. Take action. Act as an ally. Donate to organizations that support Black/BIPOC priorities. Amplify the voices of Black people in tech. Invite people from historically excluded groups to talk about their research and careers and compensate them fairly for their time and effort. Include and recognize the importance of historically excluded people and their perspectives at every level of the research and development process for technology projects. Stop the usage of racist and oppressive terminology. Educate yourself on how to talk about race. Ijeoma Oluo has a book entitled So You Want to Talk About Race and Jay Smooth has some excellent videos on talking about race.
We hope that the open hardware community joins us to take this opportunity to reflect on the current state of our community, and to continue acting to make open source hardware a welcoming space for everyone.