Exploring Communities of Practice: Spotlight on R-Ladies

We want to introduce the ESCALATOR community to inclusive digital and computational environments, fostering a sense of belonging for all. We’ve had the privilege of speaking with Yanina Bellini Saibene, who shed some light on the transformative initiatives led by R-Ladies.

Key Info

🎼 What would be the theme song of your community, that speaks to the heart of your culture?

Sometimes we talk about R-Ladies Magic, when our community supports our members and they express that thanks to the community they achieve something important for them or they try something new or they feel empowered. That is why Kind of Magic by Queen is a good song to choose.

🎡 Kind of Magic - Queen

πŸ“š Tell us more about your community

Can you provide a brief overview of the community’s mission?

R-Ladies is a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote gender diversity in the R Community. We work to achieve proportionate representation by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently under-represented in the R community. R- Ladies’ primary focus, therefore, is on supporting minority gender R enthusiasts to achieve their programming potential, by building a collaborative global network of R leaders, mentors, learners, and developers to facilitate individual and collective progress worldwide.

How and when was this community established?

The first R-Ladies chapter started in San Francisco in 2012, the Global Organization was funded in 2016.

Which region(s) are you active in?

We are a worldwide organization.

Who is this community for?

For any person that identify with a minority genders (including but not limited to cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer, agender)

When and where does the community connect?

The hearth of R-Ladies are the local chapters. We have more than 200 chapters around the world that have in person and online meetings. We also have a Slack

Community workspace for R-Ladies around the world and a Organizers Slack for those people that are responsible for a chapter.

🀝 Can you share more about getting involved

How can new members join your community?

The first step is to become a member of the closest chapter to them and attend their meetings. You can also volunteer to organize a chapter in your city if there is still no one or help to organize a chapter that is already working. You can read more in our Organizers Guidelines. They can also join our Slack Community to connect and chat with R-Ladies from around the world.

Talk at an R-Ladies meeting is another path for participation. You can always contact your local organizers. Finally, we have an R-Ladies Directory for people to look for speakers and experts. Our members can join the directory for being in the list.

What does the onboarding process look like for new members?

The onboarding depends on the roles, but for organizers they have to fill a form and then we will create a GitHub issue with all the steps that the new member and the Global Team has to do. For example, R-Ladies Global Team will take care of all the steps to create the chapter infrastructure (like meetup accounts, email, github repo) or to give you the permission to that infrastructure. The new members have to update information for our database of organizers and for the Global Team to give access to the infrastructure.

We also have our Organizers Guidelines with the description of every step the new member and the team will do.

What can members look forward to in 2024?

Our amazing chapter will continue organizing events and meetups in person and online worldwide. There are events in several languages and for beginners to expert levels. And if you want to talk at some chapter, please get in touch with your local organizers. The GLobal Team continues working on improving our process for off-boarding and the services we provide for chapters. We are also working on our governance and we will share news with the community soon.

Is there space and value for women in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) from South Africa to join this community?

We work for R-Ladies being a friendly and welcoming space for womens and other gender minorities. We hope that our space is supportive and helps to spread the word about your skills, to learn and practice in a safe space, not only about R but also about your career path, to provide information on opportunities like jobs, scholarships, and training. We also hope it is a good place for people to share their knowledge and give back to their community.

🌍 Can you share some thoughts on DEI in your community

In what ways has your community created welcoming and inclusive spaces for underrepresented groups in the digital and computational space?

All the roles of leadership in our community are exclusively for womens and other gender minorities. Local chapters decide who can attend R-Ladies events, but organizers, speakers, global team members are always womens or other gender minorities.

Could you share some of the key initiatives or programs the community has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion within the field?

R-Ladies is an initiative for promoting gender diversity. Our chapters are at the heart of our organizations. The Global Team also has different activities to support our mission. For example, we have the R-Ladies Directory, which lists more than 1600 women for people to look for speakers, specialists, analysts, etc. This allows for an easy and quick search for women experts in different fields by conference organizers, journalists, and others.

Another initiative we have is our Abstract Review. If you want to apply for a diversity scholarship, a grant proposal, or a talk for a conference, you can send your proposal to our network and we are going to find a reviewer for you to get feedback before sending the proposal.

There are more activities that you can check on our webpage: https://rladies.org/activities/gt-coordinated/

Can you share any of the success stories or milestones the community has achieved in terms of DEI?

We have a continuous growth in chapters and countries we reach, which encourages us to continue with the work at the global level of the organization. Chapters are where we provide a safe space for people to learn about R, but also about community organization, public speaking, career paths, etc.

What advice would you give to other communities wanting to create inclusive and welcoming spaces?

Involve the people you want to support in the decision making of what you are going to do and how, Have clear guidelines on how people can join and contribute. A Code of Conduct is an important tool for creating safe and welcoming spaces.

🌟 Final words of encouragement

Why would you encourage people to join communities of practice?

Because there are spaces where you can grow, you can learn and share not only technical skills but other interesting topics. You can also have access to opportunities and information first hand and to a contact network.

Give a word of advice for individuals who are not yet involved in a community of practice.

There are many communities around the world with different missions and activities. Surely there are one (or more!) that can be the right fit for your goals.