Who am I?
I am the first (and only) woman Debian Developer from India.
Some of my activities in Debian are:
- Community Team delegate since Aug 2020.
- Application Manager since Jul 2020
- part of DebConf20 orga team.
- also working with the Outreach team since Aug/Sep 2020.
- lead the winning DebConf India bid team and would be leading the DebConf India 2023(?) team.
I have been mentoring people to contribute to Debian. I am involved in organizing numerous packaging workshops and other Debian events (including the latest multilingual MiniDebConf India 2021) throughout India. I am also involved in organizing other free software events like Free Software Camp.
Debian is both my passion and livelihood (Gitlab Inc. sponsors the gitlab packaging I do).
Why am I contesting?
Concerned with the skewed gender ratios within the Free Software community (and Debian) I am working towards doing whatever I can to better the situation. How many times did we have a non-male candidate for DPL? If I am not wrong, when I contested last year, I became the second non-male DPL candidate till date. Last year, my primary goal of contesting for DPL was to bring the diversity issues to the mainstream. I believe I was successful in that at-least to a small extend. This year also my primary goal is the same.
I am aware that Debian is doing things to increase diversity within Debian, but as we can see, it is not sufficient. I am not proud, but sad when I have to say I am the first and only woman Debian Developer from a large country like India. I believe diversity is not something to be discussed only within Debian-women or Debian-diversity. It should come up for discussion in each and every aspect of the project.
DPL elections is an important activity in our project and I plan to bring up the topic of diversity for discussion every election till we have a non-male DPL.
I feel that one effective way to encourage diverse people to contribute is to have more visibility for diversity already within the community. As more and more women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people who are already part of the project become more visible instead of staying hidden in some part of the project, more gender diverse people will feel comfortable joining our community. Geographic/ethnic diversity are also important areas which need attention.
What are my plans as DPL
Looking back, my inexperience was evident in my last year’s DPL platform. This year, I plan to put forward a solid platform.
Below are some of my focus areas and what I plan to do in each area.
Since diversity is my primary focus, let me start with that.
In-spite of spending a good amount of money on diversity, we seem to not get the expected outcome. My first task as DPL would be to revisit the existing spending pattern to analyse why and where we are going wrong. When I say we should focus on diversity, I do not mean that we should blindly spend money in the name of diversity. I am personally aware of instances where the diversity budget expenditure did bad instead of any good.
Another thing I would focus with respect to the diversity budget is to publicise it more so that people who deserve it get to know about it so that we do not end up spending it just for the sake of spending.
I have heard Debian-women project did some incredible work till it went dormant. Now we have the Debian-diversity initiative, but hasn’t gained much momentum yet. I plan to streamline their activities and if possible have a delegated team focusing on diversity. The delegated team shall co-ordinate all the diversity related activities in Debian. This team will also be involved in the decisions and expenditure of the diversity budget.
Debian-localgroups which was conceptualised by our current DPL is a great idea to promote geographical diversity. I plan to use the potential of localgroups to organize more local events and have more diverse people contribute to Debian.
My second focus area is outreach activities. I have been working with the Debian-outreach team for around 6-7 months now. I feel outreach is one important activity which often does not get its due importance. Our outreach team end up being just co-ordinators for GSoC and Outreachy. I have a couple of ideas planned out for outreach.
Debian camp is a concept that I borrowed from Free Software Campfor which I was one of the core organizers. Basically the concept is to have 3-4 months long online mentorship program. The advantage of a Debian specific mentorship program is that we can tailor the program according to our specific needs.
There will be two parts for the program. In the first part, the primary focus will be on the philosophy of Debian (and free software) and why one should contribute to Debian etc. We can have common sessions on these topics for the mentees. In the second part, the mentees will work with mentors on the projects of their choice.
In this activity, I plan to have the Debian-outreach team as the co-ordinators/facilitators who work in collaboration with Debian-diversity, Debian-localgroups, Debian Academy etc. The Debian-outreach team will be doing the back-end activities of organizing, scheduling etc. while other teams will be helping out with resource persons/mentors/projects etc. I specifically intend to have Debian-localgroups involved so that we can have localised activities and not just in English.
More updates can be found on salsa.
The question of whether to pay stipend or not could be discussed later and decided (we did not have stipend for the Free Software Camp and still it was a success).
This is an in person camp which can happen during the DebCamp (this is an idea I borrowed from mollydb). I believe that there is nothing like in-person mentoring.
Often we have new people who attend the DebConf are confused on what and how to start contributing. This bootstrapping activity can help them to find directions. I do believe that we have a lot of people interested to help out with this. Exact plan to have this worked out can be discussed and decided later.
Review of current activities
A thorough review of current outreach activities is long overdue. We need to examine the effectiveness of our GSoC and Outreachy participations, what we can do better and what we can do new.
Debian community is a great community. But that does not mean we are perfect. Some points I would be interested to take up as DPL are:
Even when we say we are a welcoming community, for an outsider it might not appear so. There are a lot of reasons for this. The main reason being that online communication often leads to miscommunication and unintended flame wars. As a community, we need to work towards making Debian more welcoming to all – new comers and old timers alike. I am very keen on facilitating discussions on this as a DPL.
It is often observed that Debian as a community is reluctant to change most of the time. As a DPL, I would like to develop a culture of embracing change. I would encourage and facilitate people proposing new ideas and processes for improvement of Debian.
One advantage I have over most of the previous and present DPL candidates is the amount of time I will be able to commit for my DPL activities. My work setup is such that I get to decide when and how much time I work. This means that I can give good priority to the DPL activities.