Do We Have a Diversity Problem in Python Community?

Cheuk Ting Ho



About me

Co-organizer of 

Open Source contribution

Creator of

Volenteer of

Why Women Are Flourishing In R Community But Lagging In Python


  • more than 6x the number of users of Python as compared to R
  • the meetup population for PyLadies is only 1.25x greater than R-Ladies


  • R has more than 4 times more female contributors than Python


  • R-Ladies : 120 chapters in 40 countries
  • PyLadies : 45 chapters in 19 countries

Where are the users from?

  • The proportion of women graduating with degrees in statistics (44%) is significantly greater than those graduating in computer science (19%).
  • Data scientists come from a number of disciplines. For those who study math/statistics (25%), natural science (20%), social science (5%), and economics (4%), R is the primary language.
  • For those who study computer science (20%) (and some math people), C++ or Python is more likely to be the starting coding language.

Inequality of underrepresnted groups in PyData leadership

Active: There is a toxic member of a community - or a toxic culture as a whole - which prevents an equitable system of representation from evolving or destroys existing equitable systems.

Passive: There are significant biases, in which the agents in the system will be unable to make major strides toward equality by simply continuing the existing day-to-day activities.

Active vs. Passive Diversity Problems

Imbalance of gender ratio at Python conferences

Targeting some of the conferences I have been last year

  • Go through the videos recording
  • Determine gender of speaker base on pronoun the chair used when introducing speaker
  • It's not 100% accurate (assumption of speaker's gender, not all talks are recorded)

Most of them having at least 75% of the speakers are male

With the exception of PyCon UK

But there's a twist...

  • Most of the above are in Europe (exception of PyCon Israel)
  • Gender diversity may have a different definition in a different country / culture:
    e.g. Gender are balanced in PyCon NA
    e.g. Software Engineering is considered a women's jon in some country
  • male and female - about 50/50 in population
    non-binary - natually minority in population

What the community members thinks

What the community members thinks

  • Survey since 8th July, when I started giving talks about diversity.
  • There are 20 responses

Some of the thoughts:

  • ... Spaces for diversity should explicitly be provided, communicated, and made safe ...
  • ... talks are very techy and not necessarily relevant to an everyday job... Often they are not particularly welcoming to people coming from the outside especially if they don't fit the type...
  • Atmosphere is also important...
  • A visible CoC
  • The gender of the keynote speakers/speakers is also really, really important to show that the organisers care.

Some of the thoughts:

  • ... gender-inclusive culture... it's an everyday topic.
  • ... language is quite male/ geeky eg references to Monty Python, fantasy/ sci-fi films etc. If you don't know the references again this can make you feel like it's not a community for you...
  • ... Other skills are also valuable ... you aren't just sitting writing algorithms.
  • Code of Conducts very visible/stressed

Diversity Problem in Theater

 What’s the best way to address theatre’s lack of diversity?

Who's on the stage?

The War of the Roses at Kingston’s Rose Theatre in 2015 that saw the entire cast of 22 made up of white actors

Who's in the audience?

Even in London, where the BAME population is now 44%, audiences outside specialist theatres and theatre groups remain overwhelmingly white

Who's the influencer?

We do not have a single non-white theatre critic on a national newspaper here, and only a handful of artistic directors.

Chicken and egg situation

Nigerian minicabs drivers goes to see National Theatre run of Fela! (music and lyrics by the late Nigerian singer Fela Kuti) again and again

Diversify the lives being portrayed on stage, and the audiences could follow.

In theatre, true accessibility is about far more than cheap tickets

Change in gatekeepers

who actually decides what is put on, from artistic directors and theatre owners to producers

artists of colour at the Bush,  at the Southbank Centre, at the Kiln, at the Young Vic and at Theatre Royal Stratford East


taste buds and wallets:

no more overpriced fancy food

make a high proportion of its seats available for £10 each

theatregoers who are not fully able-bodied:

British Sign Language or audio-described performances for deaf, hard of hearing or visually impaired audiences

relaxed performances:

latecomers are admitted and there’s the chance to leave and return to the auditorium as needed

Stepping Forward


  • PyCon organizers reached out to women to encourage them to submit proposals and they also provided mentoring around the process.
  • PyCon also offers diversity scholarships for its conference.
  • % PyCon talks by women:

    2011: 1%
    2012: 7%
    2013: 15%
    2014: 33%
    2015: 33%
    2016: 40%


  • In 2017, they began a Diversity in Scientific Computing (DISC) committee whose aim is to increase diversity in the open source community.
  • NumFOCUS / PyData offers diversity scholarships.

Django Girls

  • In 2015, the Django Girls community organized 89 events - almost 6 times as much as year before. They went to 77 cities across 36 countries and all 6 continents.
  • Django Girls tutorial was translated to 12 languages
  • Empowering women as mentors

Young Coders

(In PyCon UK)

  • Notice many young coders are girls
  • De-tagging programming/coding is a boys thing
  • Inspire girls to pursure career in software developement etc.

My two cents

For conferences:

  1. Childcare (and other accessibility arrangement) helps
  2. Verity of topics, more than industry topics (e.g. Python for Educations)
  3. Go beyond Django Girls workshop
  4. Free the gender barrier (e.g. Transcode, non-gender labeled toilets and T-shirts)


Creating diversity in community:

  1. Female in leadership / contributors
  2. Promoting use of Python in other academic fields

What about yours?