RFC: PyLadies Global Governance Model #11
At PyCon USA 2019, several PyLadies organizers and other key stakeholders met to discuss the future of PyLadies (see minutes and slides). This meeting was called for several reasons including, but not limited to:
Right now PyLadies is unable to engage the community in opportunities outside of being involved in their own direct chapter. PyLadies shared concerns have fallen on the shoulders of a select few (and has lead to very bad burn out) specifically because:
Let's look at some examples:
Problem: There's lots of backed up PRs for the repo, for example reviewing and accepting blog posts has been virtually non-existent since 2016. There is no clear group to oversee the PyLadies shared technical resources.
Problem: We have had some Code of Conduct reports come in and without a clear group that can receive those reports we aren't able to do much. Also Code of Conduct work requires: training, expertise in enforcement policies, etc. We can't just have a broad community take this on as it can involve legal and safety issues.
Problem: How can we allocate PyLadies funds (because yes we have some) to all our chapters? Right now there is no mechanism or body to dictate policy on this. And having an entire community execute this opens us up to inconsistency, lack of oversight, etc.
As the above examples show, most of this work is outside immediate PyLadies chapter management.
Future of Us PyCon USA 2019 Workshop Kickoff
After brainstorming with the Future of PyLadies members at PyCon the following themes emerged:
Overwhelmingly the workshop participants identified that absence of a global leadership structure as the highest priority for PyLadies to answer as we prepare for the future.
R-Ladies Inspired Global Model: A Global Working Group with Project Based Pillars
Of these explored, we've settled on the R-Ladies model since there are several similarities between our two groups. Of primary importance, the R-Ladies model retains major decision making powers at the local chapter level for how that chapter functions day to day. PyLadies has historically been a decentralized organization, and we want to make sure we continue to promote that autonomy of individual chapters to work as they historically have.
Another benefit of the R-Ladies model is that, like PyLadies, R-Ladies is a "choose your own commitment" model. Therefore if someone wants to be involved in something specific, such as tech, there is a project pillar to be involved in. We've selected our project pillars based on the initial themes voted on from the PyCon 2019 meeting (see above). If someone simply wants to provide feedback to a team for overarching concerns for all chapters, we have a Global team to consider and work on those concerns.
We've refined the model to work with PyLadies and also to define how PyLadies will work with the Python Software Foundation:
Reference: R-Ladies Structure
PyLadies Global Leadership Team
An example of a primary concern for PyLadies Global will be to manage public assets for PyLadies and manage the relationship with the Python Software Foundation. Additionally the Global team will take on bigger initiatives such as global fundraising efforts.
PyLadies Global Advisors Team
PyLadies Global and Python Software Foundation
Any PyLadies member will be eligible to be join a project team or to put their name forward to lead the project pillar. Project pillars can be run by 1+ members. On a structured basis the project teams will send reports to the Global leadership team. How frequently that communication will be and what that communication will look like is subject to how the initial Global leadership team decides is best.
In short, projects are meant to be flexible, be expanded upon or end, and open to the community to participate in.
See the above, but the Global leadership team will have some subset of it's members appointed to act as the official point of contact.
The project pillars highlighted above are suggestions created from the PyCon US “Future of PYladies” discussion and are meant as suggestions of where to start. This model doesn’t mandate how many projects or what projects but instead proposes the use of project pillars to encourage a grassroots approach to PyLadies work. Members are free to suggest new ones and join only those they see fit. Some projects may always have work and others may be temporary.
These are great questions but are outside the scope of this RFC. Once we have settled on a model and answered / addressed any concern of our governance model we can move to the next stage of answering these questions.
In 2015 a Pan Pacific PyLadies conference was suggested that lead to in 2016 the hope for a PyLadies conference. After two unsuccessful rounds of finding a location and conference chair, the entire idea crumbled. While many of us are interested in a PyLadies conference there are larger problems we saw that prevented a conference from moving past the ideation stage. These shortcomings arose in part from not having a clear group to work with to help manage projects that are global by nature. Learning from the past, the global interim team wants to help provide that structure to give global projects like a PyLadies Conference the tools and structural support needed to succeed.
We cover this in the "Overview" category above as:
However for very tangible examples we had added example problems in the "Inspiration" section. Other such examples include:
In short, lacking a global structure means most of this falls onto the shoulders of a select few. These folks have been battling many challenges including burn out, lack of time, and are simply unable to keep up with global demand. If we cannot keep up with growth and evolve our model as we grow, then we are falling short of building the inclusive Python community that our mission focuses on.
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And if the PyLadies Conference is a future project pillar, I would like to volunteer for the Tech project pillar.
@primuse @niharikakrishnan thanks for the support! Before we can talk about a PyLadies Conference though we need to figure out how to better support PyLadies on a global level, hence this proposal. Would you mind reviewing the proposal above and offering feedback or general thoughts (e.g. you support, don't) on the governance model? Thanks!
Nice work! I wonder whether the different pillars need a bit of expansion. As I see it the resource and on boarding one has a lot of work. It looks to me the main communication pillar for all the chapters. I think maybe having a short description of main responsibilites of each to see whether it is equally distributed.
Also I think the conference is a great idea to get the new model started and get together and feel like moving towards a common goal and exchange ideas.
I would also suggest to get members from all continents if possible in the core team to have an overview of the global situation.
I wonder whether it makes sense to have a pillar working towards diversity in conferences and other groups like pydata, pycons etc. Since the goal is women to be more active in the overall community. Even open source contibuting focused (that could be part of tech). Really I am not surr what is the tech pillar and also I have 0 experiencw with governance models
@mei-li answered some questions/commented in line below:
The project pillars are meant to expand to as many projects as pyladies wants to work on. If some aren’t needed anymore those will be removed. If we need more we can add more. The size of each is also flexible and again driven by interest.
There had been two or three attempts around 2015 of this. It all frizzled out. Without a clear objective and a structure in place to get a conference off the ground I think it’s easy to spin your wheels. That’s why we got together to think about this from the vantage point of managing the entire organization. Once a clear governance model exists it’s my hope that a conference becomes an easier project for pyladies. Obviously as a part of a conference a future of pyladies track could emerge!
Definitely a great point. Once we have a modem we want to take on then we can start determining the process of selection be it an election or some type of appointment.
For pydata that is overseen by NUMFocus a separate foundation that pyladies doesn’t have an official relationship with in the way we do with pyladies. And those groups have their own conference teams and such. I think a strategic partnerships pillar is interesting but I would caution a conservative approach at first. If we spread ourselves to thin we can have burnout. Also having X pillars to X conferences doesn’t feel as beneficial. A general pillar to derive what does diversity mean if there is going to be a say a partnership pillar would be the way I may suggest this start.
Tech in this case means handling pyladies.com for example. If we want to add content to the website or do a redesign no one clearly owns or works on that. A project team could!
As per the governance model we just want feedback on what makes sense to you as an organizer for how to work and who owns what.
What is expected to concretely change as a result of adopting a governance model? I guess this is trying to fix one or more concerns, but I don't see them made explicit.
I don't love anchoring an annual meeting at PyCon US. Surely that would make more sense to be a video conference call. Or rotate location each year through Americas, Europe, Asia.
@pfctdayelise I answered your concerns inline below:
We cover this in the "Overview" category above as:
However for very tangible examples:
In short, lacking a global structure means lots falls onto the heads of a few and we are not able to keep up with the global growth and demand for more PyLadies chapters as well as we are unable to grow and evolve our mission.
The global team is welcome to change when they hold their annual meeting, however aiming for a max in person meeting is likely going to be a priority for this group. This issue is to focus on the model and not the particularities of who is in the group or how they are selected. Also our kick off chat at PyCon USA this year did include support for video conferencing in.
I think this question is a bit premature but I fully agree these are the type of concerns the global body should take on to consider global diversity and inclusion of the community.
Just wanted to add some reasoning behind my thoughts:
Responding in line ....
@gacafe thank you for raising your concern. In fact, your concern about integrating community feedback has been at at the heart of this conversation since the start. For example, when we kicked off this dialog at PyCon USA 2019 we considered this by inviting seasoned community organizers from a broad background including regional diversity (e.g. we had members from India, Mexico, Canada, UK, Africa, broader EU, and USA), years of seniority as a PyLadies member/organizer, and different professional backgrounds. As you call out PyCon USA has a bias towards those within the USA, so this is always a work in progress. In fact, this is why we are purposefully presenting this governance model to the community through a request for comment period to be mindful of soliciting and incorporating feedback from a global audience.
That said, can you specify what specific issues you think needs to be presented to the entire community to arbitrate on or vote on?
Let me provide you reasons for why we have selected this proposal (as provided in the proposal above). Right now our participation is not including the entire community, in fact most of our work that isn't tied to specific chapter management has fallen on the shoulders of a small few (and has lead to very bad burn out) specifically because:
Let's look at some examples: updating and maintaining pyladies.com and our
Now why do we need a Global board? Simply put some decisions need a small group to take on initial conversation, recommend policy, and then make decisions on it. And yes, this would always include some format of consulting with the broader community, this global group however is the group to take lead.
Consider some recent examples that would have been best handled by a Global board:
As the above examples show, most of the work that would fall under the Global board needs to be owned by a group that has 1.) the expertise to do it (e.g. should be those with organizing experience, know the PyLadies community) 2.) can work with the Python Software Foundation (who holds our PyLadies trademark, we are after all a nonprofit because we are a part of the PSF), and 3.) has the bandwidth to commit to working on this for a period of time.
The Global board then acts more so as a group of advisors for all the project pillars, which are open to all to participate in based on their own expertise, interest, and time.
Lastly, your point on "having a process in which others can get involved" -- this RFC is solely focused on the format of the governance model as stated above in the proposal and questions. We will subsequently be opening up another issue to propose a format for the global board selection process that will include things like 1.) how will the work be done 2.) what is the number of seats open and more.
I agree there are concerns around global representation and other diversity factors we need to address to ensure our global governance is creating an inclusive community. We will be opening a separate issue after this RFC ends to discuss how we do selection of the Global board to take on this more complicated questions. First we need a governance model in place before we can start determining selection process!
The more I understand the idea it makes great sense! Thanks for taking the lead on this.
With your latest comments it became more obvious what gap this governance model wants to cover, it would nice if these detailed examples were included in the proposal. (pull requests management, blogs, CoC issues)
As it looks to me the governance model aims to rather create groups that own some core topics rather than create groups that "decide for the community". If that is the case, I suggest to clarify a bit how flexible is this model and how it plans to incorporate community feedback as @gacafe mentioned. Eg.
So rather than focusing on the invite only spaces in the model description, I believe it makes sense to have appointed members that own a topic and at the same time the whole discussion and decision making is as transparent and accessible from the outside as possible.
For example, I wanted to suggest that #organizers slack channel is open and not invite only. I believe there is no really need to make something restricted as normally only the "officially appointed members" or simply interested community members will participate in a topic or discussion. There is always the possibilty to switch to a private channel with few people for a topic. If openness is core part of the model, I think it has more possibilities to avoid silos or communication problems.
@lorenanicole @gacafe Globalization is definitely a high priority and a big part of Python's growth. Part of the reason Lorena posted publicly was to cast a wide net for feedback. Please do pass along your thoughts. If you are at PyCon Brasil next month, I would be happy to have a chat with local organizers in Brasil.