R-Ladies. Building, Growing, and Sustaining a Community - WSDS 2021

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in English Community

December 11, 2021

On October 7 I participated in a panel called “R-Ladies: Building, Growing, and Sustaining a Community “ at the Women in Statistics and Data Science conference.

The abtract for the panel said

The mission of R-Ladies is to achieve proportionate representation of minority genders (including but not limited to cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer, agender) by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently underrepresented in the R community. Over the last nine years, R-Ladies has grown from a single meetup to a major global organization with 206 chapters in 58 countries and 93,000 members.. Building, growing, and sustaining this community takes significant and coordinated volunteer contributions from many real humans. This panel will feature globally distributed members of the R-Ladies Global team as well as chapter organizers. The panel will discuss the various R-Ladies initiatives that are currently active or in planning stages, reflect on lessons learned and challenges faced, as well as share success stories.

I shared the live panel with Shel Kariuki, Mouna Belaid, Athanasia Mowinckel y Katherine Simeon. Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel led and moderate the panel.

Shel start the panel presenting Starting and building a community all within the pandemic period then Mouna Belaid talk about How to Explore your Community Management Skills into Your Professional Career. Athanasia Mowinckel let us know how was to Build resources for an international organisation and Katherine Simeon share insight about Building an online community with @WeAreRLadies

I present Conferences, regional development and the R-Ladies way

How many are we and where are we?

In my talk I present the last R-Ladies' numbers 216 chapters, 61 countries, 95794 members and 3545 events. As of Oct 18th 2021, R-Ladies in LatAm has as many chapters as USA/Canada (59 chapter, 27%), and the english speaking North America is the only region with more members, 28% of R-Ladies are from LatAm.

… and how does this relate to conferences?

In the work Using R in Latin America: the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly by García Alonso, et.al. conducted a survey on how R is used in Latin America. When looking at the results of the participation by gender of those who answered, the number of the total survey shows that female participation is less than male participation. But when you ask if these person belong to a community, then the numbers the numbers are reversed and there is more female participant, reaching 60%.

And here comes one of the most interesting insights from this survey, when asked what is the community of which you feel part, more than 40% feel part of R-Ladies, in second place (18%) feel part of LatinR and seventh place is ConectaR.

Lest see whay I mention this three communities and how R-Ladies is key in the regional and conference development.

1. Create our own R Conferences

LatinR and ConectaR are two conferences created and runned in the region. R-Ladies was also the community where the organizers of Latin America SatuRday start talking and help each others.

LatinR born after a combination of message in the R-Ladies Organizers Slack. Heather Turner post an announcement that the R Foundation Conference Committee was interested in the emergence of academic-focused R events in regions not currently covered by useR! and she also send a direct message to Laura Acion and me. In less than a week, we had organized our first videoconference to start thinking about how to face the challenge.

This quick response was not the result of mere luck, but the consequence of a year in which the R community — through R-Ladies Chapters, its other local RUGs and social media presence— grew stronger in South America. That we met through R-Ladies allowed us to trust each other to organize the conference even when we did not know each other personally. By mid November everything was set up: a name, a place, a date, and a motivated international organizing committee. As I was already organizing conferences with SADIO (the Argentine society of informatics and operations research), I proposed LatinR as a new event within the JAIIO (the Argentine conference of informatics and operations research) for its first edition in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018. After that we have a second edition in Chile and two virtual edition because of COVID-19.

Thanks to this conference we have important personalities of the R Community come to our Region for the fist time or participate given talk and tutorials, like Jenny Brian, Hadley Wickham, Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, Erin Ledell, Alison Presmanes Hill and Maëlle Salmon.

2. Encourage people to participate

R-Ladies has a Review network that provide feedback on abstracts and applications such as scholarships to encourage R-Ladies to apply for these opportunities. This initiative is lead by Jennifer Thompson + volunteers.

We also have specific Slack channel in our Slack Community call #user2021-community-feedback to discuss, share and get feedback on your abstract, video, slides, etc.

As the twitter say this was inpired in the LatinR slack channel call #clinicadecharlas. Thanks to that channel I got feedbak for my RStudio::global talk which become the first not English language talk in the conference.

3. Be creators, not just users

R-Ladies chapter in Latin America help to host tutorials on useR! 2020 that went virtual because COVID-19

and also become Communities partner of RStudio::Global. In 2021 was also useR! 2021 Global, R-Ladies network was key for a global, diverse and inclusive conference because we can invite people from all over the world to be organizers and increase the reach in such way that we have the bigest edition in attendees and countries reached.

  • 122 countries, 16 were latin american.
  • 1806 attendee, 221 were latin american.

A worldmap with the number of participants to useR! 2021 for each country. We reached 122 countries. Participants range is 1 to more than 200.

Most important, the roles that Latin American has were key roles: global coordinators, keynotes, organizers, reviewers, tutors, authors, event facilitators and participants. You can read more details in this blog post.

4. Diversity and inclusion beyond gender

This diverse team, with a lot of R-Ladies in, allow us to go for diversity and inclusion in other dimensions, beyond gender:

  • Geography: authors, keynotes, organizing team, pc team from America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Every day in different time zones.
  • Language: content in English, Spanish and French. Author can record their talk in their native language. Keynotes in other language than English.
  • Economic: Price according to your country of origin and your employment situation. For both attendees and sponsors. Fee waiver without having to explain why you need it. Financial help (childcare, internet connections).
  • Accessibility: Planned from the start of the event. Screen reader-friendly and lightweight platform (internet bandwidths). Accessibility guides for content (tutorials and talks). Subtitles in all talks. Subtitles in two languages in the keynotes. Awards to recognize this effort.
  • User Level: content for all levels. Special events for newcomers. Social events for the communities.
  • Code of conduct: Code of conduct, training and payment for the task to the team that had to reinforce the CoC.
  • Volunteer time: useR! was a volunteer effort. This excludes people that don’t have time to work for free. Payment for the activities to some roles of the organizing team to allow more people to be part.

The big learning:

A diverse team that takes into account the intersectionalities of the communities members will improve any result.

and that include conferences.

Posted on:
December 11, 2021
7 minute read, 1430 words
English Community
R-Ladies Community
See Also:
Day 13: Distilling how to use Participatory Live Coding in-person and online - Tip 6
Day 12. Distilling how to use Participatory Live Coding in-person and online - Tip 5
Day 11. Distilling how to use Participatory Live Coding in-person and online - Tip 3 y 4