Increasing Drupal contributions from underrepresented groups

How the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team is working to better include women and underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions.

For the past two years, I've published the Who sponsors Drupal development report. The primary goal of the report is to share contribution data to encourage more individuals and organizations to contribute code to Drupal on Drupal.org. However, the report also highlights areas where our community can and should do better.

In 2017, the reported data showed that only 6 percent of recorded code contributions were made by contributors that identify as female. After a conversation in the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Slack channel about the report, it became clear that many people were concerned about this discrepancy. Inspired by this conversation, Tara King started the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team to understand how the Drupal community could better include women and underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions.

I recently spoke with Tara to learn more about the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team. I quickly discovered that Tara's leadership exemplifies various Drupal Values and Principles; especially Principle 3 (Foster a learning environment), Principle 5 (Everyone has something to contribute) and Principle 6 (Choose to lead). Inspired by Tara's work, I wanted to spotlight what the DDI Contribution Team has accomplished so far, in addition to how the team is looking to help grow diversity and inclusion in the future.

A mentorship program to help underrepresented groups

Supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project.

The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. This includes building better representation across gender, race, sexuality, disability, economic status, nationality, faith, technical experience, and more. Unfortunately, underrepresented groups often lack community connections, time for contribution, resources or programs that foster inclusion, which introduce barriers to entry.

The mission of the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Contribution Team is to increase contributions from underrepresented groups. To accomplish this goal, the DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal. Each mentee is matched with a mentor in the Drupal community, who can provide expertise and advice on contribution goals and professional development. To date, the DDI Contribution Team supports over 20 active members.

What I loved most in my conversation with Tara is the various examples of growth she gave. For example, Angela McMahon is a full-time Drupal developer at Iowa State. Angela been working with her mentor, Caroline Boyden, on the External Link Module. Due to her participation with the DDI Contribution Team, Angela has now been credited on 4 fixed issues in the past year.

Improving the reporting around diversity and inclusion

In addition to mentoring, another primary area of focus of the DDI Contribution Team is to improve reporting surrounding diversity and inclusion. For example, in partnership with the Drupal Association and the Open Demographics Project, the DDI Contribution Team is working to implement best practices for data collection and privacy surrounding gender demographics. During the mentored code sprints at DrupalCon Nashville, the DDI Contribution Team built the Gender Field Module, which we hope to deploy on Drupal.org.

The development of the Gender Field Module is exciting, as it establishes a system to improve reporting on diversity demographics. I would love to use this data in future iterations of the 'Who sponsors Drupal development' report, because it would allow us to better measure progress on improving Drupal's diversity and inclusion against community goals.

One person can make a difference

What I love about the story of the DDI Contribution Team is that it demonstrates how one person can make a significant impact on the Drupal project. The DDI Contribution Team has grown from Tara's passion and curiosity to see what would happen if she challenged the status quo. Not only has Tara gotten to see one of her own community goals blossom, but she now also leads a team of mentors and mentees and is a co-maintainer of the Drupal 8 version of the Gender Field Module. Last but not least, she is building a great example for how other Open Source projects can increase contributions from underrepresented groups.

How you can get involved

If you are interested in getting involved with the DDI Contribution Team, there are a number of ways you can participate:

  • Support the DDI Contribution Team as a mentor, or consider recommending the program to prospective mentees. Join #ddi-contrib-team on Drupal Slack to meet the team and get started.
  • In an effort to deliberately recruit teams from spaces where people of diverse backgrounds collaborate, the DDI Contribution Team is looking to partner with Outreachy, an organization that provides paid internships for underrepresented groups to learn Free and Open Source Software and skills. If you would be interested in supporting a Drupal internship for an Outreachy candidate, reach out to Tara King to learn how you can make a financial contribution.
  • One of the long term goals of the DDI Contribution Team is to increase the number of underrepresented people in leadership positions, such as initiative lead, module maintainer, or core maintainer. If you know of open positions, consider understanding how you can work with the DDI Contribution Team to fulfill this goal.

I want to extend a special thanks to Tara King for sharing her story, and for making an important contribution to the Drupal project. Growing diversity and inclusion is something everyone in the Drupal community is responsible for, and I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Congratulations to the entire DDI Contribution Team.