How do we combat the apparent culture of racism and sexism in Rust?


#1

This is a delicate topic because the problem comes from the very top.
The roadmap of 2017 contains this: “Outreach and mentoring is also one of the best avenues for increasing diversity in the project”. When you click on the link to the mentioned survey, it shows a white male percentage of 81.6%, so as a white male myself, clearly I’m on the cutting block for the future. I’m not wanted. Rust wants people of a different skin color.
It is indincative of the general direction and spirit of the Rust community

I have detected a lot of veiled racism in the Rust community, ppl here seem very comfortable discriminating against males and white people: https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/commit/b748c2e90d87985fbff1d99e17d94a10cf2b3f21#diff-23f93c5409ebc479c3e89f45c4377367

People in the Rust community keep bringing up some magical future “diversity” distribution where every single religion, race, gender, gender expression, skin color, disability will be equally represented in Rust. This is clearly a fool’s quest, it is impossible to achieve and quite frankly, how can you even desire such a distribution. Shouldn’t we have a diversity of ideas regardless of any such physical qualities such as skin color?
The Rust leadership seems to think that skin color and other such characteristica are the primary factor that influences a diversity of ideas and this is what Rust has to optimize for.
Personally I like the idea of skin color not mattering. I like the idea of gender not being mentioned. I like the idea of disability not being treated as something to be ‘pointed’ out.
The Rust leadership thinks differently, they want and openly strive for goals regarding skin color in the Rust community. How is this not the definition of racism?
How is it that the need for non-white non-male Rust programmers is specifically pointed out and worked towards?
I am poor, maybe this is why I’m so offended by this sort of overt racism and sexism.
So this is an area that Rust openly needs to optimize for? That a black person might feel more comfortable with other black people around? This is how racially aware Rust programmers are?
The 2017 roadmap openly says that 81.6% white males is a problem that needs to be fixed. I call that racist and sexist and I hope you do too.
For the future it does mean that white males such as myself are being foregone over people of a different skin color in future projects or outreach or events or help sessions, or any number of such things.
Only ‘approved’ people will be a net gain for Rust, white males are clearly a net detriment to Rust’s goals of diversity. Any white male that joins the Rust commnity now is exascerbating the perceived ‘problem’.
Maybe as a white male in the not so distant future, if I voice my concerns in some unapproved manner, I will be more easily let go than someone of a different skin color because Rust already has too many white males anyway.
The Rust community is shaped by Rust blog posts and Rust leadership. Those two things clearly and openly call for less white males as a percentage. It seems to me that actions towards that goal can easily go either by increasing other races or decreasing whites. It is not unthinkable at all that Rust leadership will decide one day to let go of some white contributors in favor of black contributors.
I want to take a stand today against this open racism by the Rust community and I hope other communities take note of this as well.


#2

White male here. Diversity is about attracting other members of the human race than us. I see skin color or gender as examples: you mention being poor, I see this is a good example of diversity. Not being so rich myself I don’t have a particularly recent laptop, which means I am probably more sensitive to slow compile times than people with newer, more powerful computers. This in turn has influenced what I do in Rust, the crates I use or create.

Having people from different backgrounds creates different use cases. A developer from the US can live with only ASCII strings; a Western European can live with ISO 8859-1 only; only when you have developers from the world then something like UTF-8 happens :thumbsup:


#3

I’m also a white male and originally felt the same as you. I grew up in a single parent house hold, went through the military and never finished college so seeing statements from organizations (not just Rust) about how white males are a problem and their numbers needs to be reduced automatically turns me off from them. After some research and reading posts from the community members, however, I think you are looking at it from the wrong angle. They don’t want to reduce the number of white males in the community, they want to raise the numbers of everyone else.

A good example of this that I’ve seen was with a recent python conference where over 40% of speakers were female. The numbers weren’t achieved through discrimination or some sort of quota, but by community outreach to female organizations. This can be done poorly, however. I remember one of the first Gophercon call for proposals being overtly racist and sexist, saying that if two proposals were considered technically equal, the proposal submitted by the non-white, non-male would be chosen.

That said, I do agree that trying to be equally inclusive of every group will never happen and some group will always be unhappy. After the previously mentioned Python conference where they proudly announced the nearly 50/50 split between males and females, people started tweeting the organizer that they didn’t have enough minority or disabled speakers instead of congratulating them on their achievment.

Overall, I feel pretty much the same as you, but I think organizations should be judged on a case-by-case basis. The Rust community seems to be using the outreach method to be more inclusive, vs the discrimination method I saw with Go.


#4

bill, it always starts with supposedly noble intentions but I really think that their intentions are not noble and never were. Their words and actions speak a clear language: 80% white males are a problem to be solved. This is exactly the kind of language that is not welcoming to me. I will not sit idly by while the very people who claim to be welcoming to everyone, call a white male majority a problem. They are not being welcoming to white males when they call a white male majority a problem.
I said that it’s impossible to achieve their diversity goals and I meant it: There are thousands of religions, thousands of gender expressions and thousands of forms of disability. To achieve any sort of “fairness” in regards to distribution of religions or races or genders or […] is a fool’s quest with no clear benefits other than this mysterious “well he’s black/muslim/female, he must think differently than me” idea which in a way is very much racist by itself.


#5

Racism and sexism take into account systemic oppression and biases that have been part of society for hundreds of years (at least). Trying to work to overcome that history and not perpetuate it is not racist or sexist. The benefit is getting contributions from people who otherwise might not contribute.

Just because it might be impossible to create a community that reflects the population as a whole doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

I have some links for you to read and think about.


#6

The commiter has explained his commit quite well :slight_smile:.

Diversity is not only about how pigment on skin, it is also about https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/816442342773166080 she is white female, she is not inside the white male ;). Here https://www.rust-lang.org/en-US/conduct.html .

I think you are missing the point of see the % of white people, because anyway it will “fixed” (hopefully and) eventually when more people around the world use rust… but well, we all can push for get more people to use rust and know rust… I mean if rust community grow the diversity will grow and that is good.

And meybe we should not use the word “fixed”… we should say only that the percentages will change over time and that is good and welcomed.


I can’t also get to know the exact part here https://blog.rust-lang.org/2016/06/30/State-of-Rust-Survey-2016.html


#7

100% of the Rust core team are white and male. I’m not sure how anyone can look at the actual reality of the Rust community and decide that white men are the main group that is being excluded or discriminated against. I do understand your worry that you may face discrimination based on your race or gender. I hope you can empathize with people from other groups who have the same feelings about how they are treated in open source communities, and understand that our desire is to remove any barriers that are preventing people from participating.

Our goal is to be welcoming to everyone. We think that if we work hard at that goal, the Rust community will grow to include more people than it does now, without the need to exclude any groups that are currently well-represented. There is no reason to see community-building as zero-sum.

If someone has taken actions or used words against you to exclude you, please bring this up with the moderation team and we will address it. But do not put words into other people’s mouths (despite your quotation marks, no one except you has brought up the idea of “approved” people or “letting go” of contributors based on race). These unfounded hypotheticals are needlessly inflammatory.

As a member of the moderation team, I remind everyone to assume good intent even as we discuss areas where we all have different and strongly-held beliefs; otherwise we cannot have any sort of constructive conversation. If you have already decided that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong or lying, then there is no sense in continuing.


#8

As a minority person, my main aspiration for rust in 2017 is having stable library apis and more examples / documentation for popular libraries. Also, wrapping my head around futures / tokio because that is now the rust hotness…

I usually don’t even bother commenting on this type of topic but I feel very strongly about not feeling strongly about these types of issues and I don’t see my perspective always expressed. I don’t want what may be the vocal minority ( i have no evidence of this. Pure conjecture ) to guide rust into a direction that focuses resources on “this” instead of…all the things that personally brought me to rust in the first place.

Is there evidence that supports a programming language has a stronger, larger, more popular, better community when it focuses on inclusivity? I typically see the reasoning behind people on hacker news and reddit giving up on rust having to do with it’s initial learning curve / fighting borrow checker / immaturity of libraries, tooling, and IDE support.

Edit: Also, I want compile times to be faster!
Edit2: Here is the link for the GopherCon 2015 blurb that was mentioned earlier in the thread if anyone was curious


#9

I intend to play devil’s advocate here. My brush may be too broad in some cases because I lack accurate information or it’s hard to discern whether my words describe a hypothetical or actual, and my statements may offend someone. That is not my intent, and if I’ve done so, please correct me.

To me, this conversation originates from too little information. Too much generalization, and very few specifics in the 2017 Road Map. One solution is to fill in those holes as some have began to, but at the same time, some individuals elaborate not at all because they’ve dismissed some of the concerns. I hope to explain those concerns (as I understand them), why they are concerns, and what details can be provided to assuage these concerns.

Consider that I’m effectively a stranger in the Rust community. I don’t know the team well, I’ve never met them, and we’re not close friends. I know you superficially through the questions I ask/read and the answers provided. At the very least, I must say the Rust community is very friendly, inviting, and tolerant of my dumb questions that are probably asked a thousand times already. You all have my heartfelt thanks for that.


Mentally, I’m very slow. At times, dumber than a box of rocks, hence the moniker. Eventually, I’ll understand, but it takes excruciating time to get there. As such, I hardly spend time researching how the Rust core team behaves in compromising situations (I’m busy struggling elsewhere), so when I see 81.6% of the community are white males, and that this is a “problem to solve” [1], I ask myself how the core team will solve this, and the truth is I just don’t know, I can only speculate. The benefit of the doubt is truly warranted before attacking anyone’s character, but it should not hurt to discuss my speculations/concerns, so at the least I know definitively what you won’t do, and better understand what you’re likely to do.

Here, we have one metric X = 81.6% that expresses a problem to solve. The only way to solve this over-simplified situation, is to reduce that 81.6%. At what point do you consider this “solved”? When that metric is 70%? 50%? 25%? Is this metric even driving the call for action? Why collect this data and refer to it if this wasn’t the case? Will 2017’s efforts be considered a failure in 2018 if X is still 81.6%, or a lesson that despite your best efforts, too few people related to the 18.4% are interested in learning Rust.

How do we reduce this percentage? Assuming we’re stuck with the community we have, we’re not kicking anyone out. So the only way to adjust that percentage is to alter the growth rate of “new admissions”. We can definitely reduce that 81.6% by making it harder for new white, male members to join the community, so that fewer join[4]. Or we might fail by encouraging minorities to join our community, since we can’t force them to join us. In this very limited simulation, one of three outcomes are possible.

  1. If we remain more successful at attracting white community members through 2017, then X increases.
  2. If we manage to attract as many minority members as white through 2017, then X remains at 81.6%.
  3. If we hit a home-run and our minority membership grows faster than the white membership, then X decreases.

If we limit ourselves to an arbitrary percentage value, then (1) and (2) are failures, and only (3) can be considered a success.

Personally, I hate the exclusive use of percentages in any call for action/argument because they omit the truth of the situation and erroneously become the focus of any solution/discussion. Let’s specify exactly what the goal is here. In (1) and (2) above, we could double the minority membership, which is a success IMHO, while X still indicates our community is not friendly to minorities. So let’s focus on raising the level of minority participation. The call to action is that our minority membership is <1000 and we want to raise that above 1500 by the end of 2018, regardless of what the majority % becomes.

After reading @mbrubeck’s post for the fifth time, I can see my hypothetical is impractical. The goal is to welcome everyone.


If “Our goal is to be welcoming to everyone…”, I can see how that policy intends to avoid a zero-sum situation. I can also rationally imagine a [hypothetical] misguided effort to reduce that 81.6% that seems zero-sum to me. I don’t mean all community building becomes zero-sum if this effort comes to pass, but it does strike me as a zero-sum situation on a smaller scale.

The 2017 Road Map advocates mentoring as a method to improve minority participation. I don’t know how Rust does mentoring, so I envision a simple program where one mentor pairs with one candidate. If this mentoring program is key to reducing the gap between minority and majority, then it appears to me that a candidate must be selected based on race/sex to encourage more participation from minorities by favoring them in the selection process (how else does mentoring reduce that 81.6%). I imagine myself in the position of a mentor selecting a candidate. If I have one minority candidate and four majority candidates and a desire to support minority participation, I will select that single minority candidate to further a cause I believe in. To do otherwise would subvert that effort by at least promoting the status-quo, and as a result I’ve intentionally discriminated against four individuals based on race/sex[2].

I see this as a zero-sum situation, albeit very short-term, because at this moment a finite resource (mentoring) is awarded to some candidates and denied to others. Long-term, those denied may/will/should benefit from the contributions to come from the mentored candidates, and everyone gains from that perspective (sorry @mbrubeck, this didn’t fully occur to me until I got this far).

If the Rust team advocates reducing that 81.6% through mentoring, and if mentoring works as I imagine, then I would be alarmed by an organization indirectly encouraging racism/sexism. Those are big if’s that have yet to be substantiated, and it’s still fiction at this point, and I expect it will remain fiction.

Outreach programs I don’t have any argument against. Their purpose as I see them is to reach out to others, whoever those others may be.


With these very simple scenarios, I can understand why @Meai1 is concerned. As the OP’s title states, “How do we combat this?” Transparency.

  1. The team can elaborate more on that 81.6%. What does it mean to the team and why is it actionable?
  2. What actions are you taking (with details)?
  3. And what goal are you trying to achieve with that action?

If 81.6% carries any actionable significance, I’d like to see that it’s an arbitrary metric to pursue this year and next year we’ll be polling other metrics to pursue efforts to reduce disparity of those metrics in our community.

I can see a benefit[3] to mixing up a little what may be the de-factor standard operating procedure of 2016, and push everyone outside their comfort zone.

This is all just food for thought. I’m not demanding answers to these questions, nor am I insinuating nefarious plots. The Rust team is free to do as they please, they’ve done a terrific job thus far, and will continue to do so I suspect.

The OP and Road Map’s “X% imbalance needs action” struck a chord with me, but after spending six hours writing this mess, I’ll return to spectating.


  • [1]: My knee-jerk, over-simplified, and yet not entirely unrelated summary of the situation.
  • [2]: I don’t subscribe to any notion that racism/sexism only applies to minorities. I approach that point from a mathematical perspective. racism = { A discriminates B | A, B ∈ All Races }, and similarly for sexism.
  • [3]: Parable of the Polygons
  • [4]: I realized while proof-reading that if minority growth drops, method (1) doesn’t guarantee success.

#10

If you have two candidates, one is privileged on several axis (be it gender, race, class, being cis…) and one who is not, the situation is stacked against the less privileged candidate from the get go. Even if you decide to help the less privileged more, this is still not discrimination against the other. It is like seeing, that someone gives a poor person a dollar and crying foul because there are millionaires getting none in this moment.


#11

So even for the mentorship situation it need not be zero-sum. We already do mentoring, and we’re not picky in who we mentor.

At the same time, there are specific outreach programs (RustBridge) that often tie up with groups of underrepresented folks and hold events. None of these events are closed to any group. However, these events are advertised more in certain circles.

It’s a similar effect that cause the lack of diversity in tech in the first place. Nobody is sitting down and going “nyeh heh heh I’m going to only hire white men for this job”. At least, I hope not. But people do do things like choosing to do outreach to Ivy League schools (which often have extremely skewed diversity numbers). This, among with other on-the-surface-sensible choices aggregate and cause many of the diversity issues in tech companies.

It’s the same kind of effect that can be used to reverse it. Do more outreach to underrepresented groups. Advertise more in these communities. For example, some companies have had great success hiring good candidates by specifically targeting outreach at HBCUs.

It does not have to be zero-sum.


Nor is the diversity goal on the 2017 roadmap as simple as something where we think of it in terms of “solved” and “failure”. Sure, keeping track of these numbers tells us what’s working and if there are things horribly wrong with the health of the community. But it’s not like a lack of change in these numbers a priori means we “failed”. We need to look closer at why those numbers changed and perhaps refine our methods.

Nobody is viewing this as the oversimplified version of “We have a number of 81.6% that we need to ‘fix’”. This is a nuanced issue. Nuance isn’t something the roadmap is for.


#12

Another white male here. I have never felt left behind in this community, and I have always felt welcome. The 81% is actually a problem, and it’s not that there are too many white males in the community, there will never be enough people in such a great community. The issue is that somehow, the community has not included properly most other genders and races, and we have to work to make non-white, non-male people feel more comfortable in that community.

The problem is the proportion, not the people. No one has ever written in this community that somebody isn’t wanted. Then, you link a commit where the gender of many statements has been changed from male to female. Maybe you could argue that a move like that wouldn’t make females better included, I sincerely cannot know if I were a female it would make me feel wanted or included only by changing a gender, but I also can understand that having everything with the “he” word wouldn’t make it inclusive for a woman, because her pronouns weren’t even appearing in the text.

If you read the actual commit, seems fair that if all-male pronouns have been there for about 30 years, makes sense to now have all-female pronouns for another 30, don’t see the discrimination against male people there, in any case, we would still have to wait 29 years (or a bit less) to actually repay the discrimination against women.

So, when I see that the community wants that +80% proportion become much less, similar to the actual white-male proportion in the world (I don’t have numbers, but that will probably be about 20-30%? I don’t see it as they telling they don’t want more white males, they of course want more white males, they just want other non-white, non-male people too! which is the opposite of discrimination. And they do things to try attract other collectives.

I have seen before white-male people not understanding discrimination because they have never suffer it, and seeing the loss of non-white, non-male discrimination as a discrimination against them. I wouldn’t have even commented this if it weren’t because of our current world situation, but we really have to stop seeing as 80% of white-males as something “ok”.


#13

I’m not wanted. Rust wants people of a different skin color.

Rust wants everybody.

The 2017 roadmap openly says that 81.6% white males is a problem that needs to be fixed.

The actual roadmap does not mention white males or any percentages at all.

For the future it does mean that white males such as myself are being foregone over people of a different skin color in future projects or outreach or events or help sessions, or any number of such things.

You seem super concerned about white men being underserved, but to me it looks like existing efforts are doing great with white men.

If you’re interested in Rust and having trouble getting started or finding help, or you know someone in that situation, let me know. I want to help.


#14

As an underrepresented minority, I feel the same way a lot of the time. There’s nothing I’d like more than to just be able to work on Rust stuff. Unfortunately, the world isn’t quite there yet, and after years of listening to and learning from other people who do more advocacy work to increase representation of various groups in tech than I do, and a lot of thinking, I’m coming to terms with the fact that there are things I can and should do to help other people like me get into this programming language that I enjoy. Part of what I can do is talking to more privileged people in this community to get their help so that minorities aren’t the only ones doing the diversity work!

There are examples where making something more welcoming and accessible to underrepresented folks has improved the situation for everyone. There are many, many examples where a bad technical decision could have been avoided if the people making it and testing it were less homogeneous and more representative of the population as a whole.

Having a goal to do more outreach to underrepresented groups makes sure that we have as many people as possible with as many ideas as possible here to do the work for the other parts of the roadmap.


#15

As far as I’ve been made aware (perhaps it’s just a perpetuated stereotype), I am an overrepresented minority in tech. So, this graph from the survey can be misleading to correlate “No” to “white male”.

If that was the intent, it should have been more explicit. I didn’t take the survey but I probably would have answered “no” just by how I read it. Being a person of color does not an underrepresented demographic make. By the looks of it, there are multiple orthogonal options and an older, disabled, white male could have selected “older” and “disabled” but not “No”.

I would like to see more scientific methods used to determine the demographics by clearly defining the data. If there are people who feel so strongly about this, it’s doubly important that the census be proper.


#16

We on the community team have been gathering feedback about the 2016 survey since it happened on this tracking issue in order to improve the 2017 survey. We would welcome help to make the demographic questions more scientific.


#17

that answers this questin I did have from the start:

I’m not white and I dont live in USA and for example I’m atheist and I remember answering no… so that graphs the 81% of white comes from? well I’m sure I’m not white and I’m a number there, that is why I could not find the exact point for the percentage of white people… ;)… I didn’t even get that was the graph because my pigmentation is not white (remember there is only one race “human”, we only get different pigmentation) and I answered as “No”.

So I will say this… all people that doesnt live in USA and is not white using rust except if not very specific to the other options is on the 81%, it is wrong to assume it is only white poeple, with only 1 counter example discard the assumption, at less there is one, me.


#18

Sexism is a overly political term in this context. Lets face it, the IT business is extreme male dominated. During my study times om a 35 people class, you had exactly one women. Think she later become a analyst.

There is nothing wrong with gender neutral usage. But the whole “30% off philosophers are women, so we need to be sure that 30% or more are written in female form”. Simply avoid hot potatoes by not using gender specific example or posts.

Rust may have a largely white representation on the poll but that does not always shows the whole truth. Go for instance has a large white development population, if you poll in English. Try polling in China in Mandarin / Cantonese and you will get a totally different result because there is a massive Go community in Asia. All of a suddenly the white male are in a minority compared to the dominating Asian male community.

People tend to think that English is a universal language and they poll in English. But in a LOT of countries English is not dominant yet, you can have strong dominant communities that use a specific programming language ( and rely on there own local forums with translated documentation ).

I know plenty of Chinese ( guess where i am writing this :slight_smile: ) that hardly speak English and mostly rely on there own communities. Do not forget, by pushing a global positive discrimination agenda, one is actively discriminating against other groups.

Code of conducts to fix those issues, tend to draw a lot of criticism because they also are enforced by people. People who have the same flaws as all of us. It even tends to create adversarial conditions ( me vs them, us vs them ) in situations that normally can get handled more easily. Let alone cultural differences. Lets say something stupid: “People who eat with there mouths open are disgusting”. Most people will agree with a statement like that, except, that same statement in Asia will be a sensitive topic.

By trying to enforce a perceived or real code of conduct, one ends up with “white colonialism”. Our values mean more then yours. Its a slipper sloop. And i do think that basic common sense is more of a value, then any ridged enforcement of rules or PC.


#19

The fact that my original post was flagged&hidden, really shows that all of you are wrong and I’m right. I’m making a post with my personal opinion on my race and gender and because I have the wrong skin color, my post gets flagged and hidden.
You will of course claim that it has absolutely nothing to do with that, that I was just too offensive in some form or another.
This is exactly what I’ve been warning against: We already live in a Rust community where white males are openly being talked down and discriminated against. The fact that this is spearheaded by white males themselves, really is irrelevant.
If writing “81.6% white males are a problem” doesn’t raise any red flags for you, then you are the problem.


#20

I unhid it. Discourse autohides things if they get flagged enough.

To be clear, there’s plenty in your post worth flagging. It’s full of strawman arguments, and given that you also posted this pull request it’s pretty clear that you’re trolling or otherwise do not intend to contribute constructively. The main reason that I’m unhiding this is that it has spawned some constructive discussion.

Your latest comment is not constructive at all. We permit discussion on these topics, but they must be civil and avoid sweeping accusations.