Equity on global level, what this means?

Hi everybody! :grinning:

I took the initiative to do this after the comments and conversation on our last community call.

The aim to grow a socially just community, based on the principles of equity, is on our Manifesto (ethical, democratizes science, empowers people) and on the Road Map.

Since the start, the Governance Working Group (GWG) had gave some hard thoughts on how to transpose those principles to the Governance structure.
Our worries were around set a way to avoid that the Community Council was composed of people from the same background, culture, social group, etc.

At first, we thought the council could be separated from regions. But we decided not to set this as a rule because GOSH regions are not yet defined, and some regions are more organized than others. The background diversity (ONG, not-affiliated, academia, etc.) is something we wanted too, but since there are so many other criteria to be consider, we let it as an intention. Both of this sort of diversity we don’t know how to ensure.

Spoiler for who didn’t attend the community call: We proposed a quota system where 4 of the 7 people elected has to be from “social minorities”/“disadvantaged groups”. The other 3 will be the remain more voted. The person will self-identify as part of a social minority, and no one will check or validate (unless is something absurd that is clearly done only for fit on the quota). This has several problems that we don’t know how to fix, so please help.

I will share some of the thoughts we had, and my opinions about it. So all the above is my responsibility, not from the GWG group, and explains my understanding of some of our choices. Also, none of this is “fixed”, it can be changed, and that’s why I’m sharing it. I ask your help and opinion on it, so we can solve this together.

One of our problems is the diversity of categories, groups, that can be called “social minorities”/“disadvantaged groups”. There are several groups we have to consider (in portuguese I think is called “marcadores sociais de diferença”): class (economical background), race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, in some cases even religion, and more.
So we can’t compare them, can’t assign a score to each of them.

The next level is to consider that the social disadvantages differ in each country. Some criteria are “global”, for example, being a women, or with a non heteronormative expressions of gender. But something that is a disadvantage in one country can even be an advantage in other (example: being a muslim). Other disavadntages are so local, but not less “strong” and “damageable”, that I, a white-latino-american-woman, have no idea of the existence, so I won’t “list” it, or even understand it.
So we can’t really set a global list of social minorities or disadvantages groups. And again, we can’t compare them.

Even the definition is blurred. We decided to use “social minorities” because they are groups that are not minorities on number, but on social and political influence. Another expression that can be used is “disadvantaged groups”; it represent groups that have been, historically, wronged. Both of them represent groups that have structural/colective (laws, culture, etc.) social and economical disadvantages that influence the individual opportunities. But since we can’t really define and list this groups, setting a name is complex. Please engaged on this discussion and suggest an expression, or share what you understand from those expressions.

The “self-identification” system was intended to avoid the need of a “label committee”, people that assign label to others. That’s not something we want. Neither a “validation committee” seems good. It seems compelling, not good, how can you verify if some one is gay? We have only their word, so is not something I want to set. However, can’t this be used by malicious people? Or even by people that didn’t properly understood the concept. Or someone that understand that being a white-men is disadvantaged on current societies . . . . So, for the first election we won’t check anything (unless is absurd, as the last example). But, how can we ensure this quota will serve for broaden our equity, not the opposite?

:dizzy_face: :dizzy_face: :dizzy_face: :dizzy_face:

What do you think? Does any of this makes sense? Pleas share with me.

Some mistakes will happen, but we can predict some of them if we have more heads on it.

:gosh: :earth_americas: :thinking:

:warning: :warning: :warning:
PS: since the governance proposal is almost finished, maybe we won’t be able to do major changes on this quota system, but we can start the conversation about it before the election starts.


Hi Marina!

Thank you for sharing this, this was such an important discussion during the community call and I am glad it is being continued here on the forum.

I did want to share a term that I am more familiar with using, which is that of a “marginalized” person/identity/community. Similar to the terms “social minority” and “disadvantaged groups” it is not perfect at describing every instance, but I do find it to be helpful and productive. The definition of “marginalized” from this site is this:

" Marginalized populations are groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions."

I will acknowledge that my experience using this term is limited to the US-context, but I would love to hear more thoughts surrounding the best language for this situation.



Ni! My 2 cents:

  • “under-represented social realities” is perhaps unusual, but is more straight to the point of what we’re trying to fix.

  • I do think there are some clear lines we can draw, specially as we’re discussing a global council, and there are very well known global privileges that are major in that/our context:

    • male privilege
    • white privilege
    • wealth privilege
    • conservative privilege (fit to social traditions)
    • colonial privilege (main country exerts colonial-like power)

Within this frame, one way to make it work is to have every candidate declare if they benefit from each of those privileges. For example, I benefit from all of them, despite being born in South America to a migrant family of villagers from the Middle-East. I think that inverting the burden of “self-identification” has a lot of benefits - among them to make people “come out” as straight white rich men.

Then we’d have our election normally and we’d get an order of the candidates. If the elected do not represent all five under-represented social realities, and do not include four people representing at least one of them, then we’d replace candidates by promoting someone from a lower position until that is satisfied. (Alternatively, each participant could be considered to only contribute one of their aspects to the total representation, so the criteria doesn’t satisfy when one person concentrates most diversity - i.e. if there are three rich white straight woman and one poor black queer male from Iraq).

Now, those privileges might not cover everything, but they do cover the things that are most consensually striking in our current global context, and IMHO that’s the best trade-off point. Either having more criteria - without expanding the size of the council - or leaving it completely open will make things really complicated and create situations where people would feel injustice, as well as incentives for bizarre disputes and animosity.




Thanks @briannaljohns and @solstag !

I like this! is less aggressive to those who are part of marginalized groups, for who “coming out” may be very unconfortable and even offensive.

Ok, I have nothing to question in these.

Ok, but we could also add something like:
“Does my color/race or ethnicity give (not sure if that’s the right word) me social privileges on the country/community I am part of?”

I really like this one. It could include, or explicit, the relation with gender expression. I understand that is already included, but we could highlight is. This also includes religion traditions, doesn’t it?

1 Like


[ white privilege] Ok, but we could also add something like […]

White privilege is very different from those, both because it is global and because it is not ethnic, though the ethnic dimension occasionally intercepts it.

I consider that at the scale of the global council we ought to focus on global biases lest we don’t remedy any bias given the “signal-to-noise ratio”. I’d argue that ethnic issues are better dealt with in terms of “conservative privilege” (see below), and also better dealt with in regional organizations - be them formal or informal.

Bias can affect two things: the self-development of the individual and the perception of voters. By working to fix this at regional levels, we’ll have improved the chances of self-development and thus of having able global candidates. Since at the global level voters won’t carry over the biased regional perception, things are prone to organically improve with that.

[conservative privilege] I understand that is already included, but we could highlight is. This also includes religion traditions, doesn’t it?

A final document would certainly provide more guidance, though I’d rather not be too prescriptive. It should be clear that this is about privilege, not about diversity. There are circumstances where more traditional people enjoy no privilege, connected to how liberal is a society in respect to its traditions.

This is the criterion where regional realities play more of a role, and ethnic issues might show up in case traditions have ethnic requirements.


1 Like


Today on the GWG meeting we talked about this option, everybody liked it and are willing to implement it.
Still, there are some topics that need to be consider and “solved” before we add it to the Governance/Election proposal.

I share them here so you all can contribute on it.

The options that consider “self-identification” won’t prevent us to deal with people that are clearly not marginalized, or underprivileged, but will claim to be, either with bad intentions, or because don’t “believe” or agree with the need for equity on the council, or even because consider themselves underprivileged because “now a days white man are minority”, or something like that. People with this behaviour can simple not identify their one privileges, claiming, for example, that they never had privilege, they work for everything they have, meritocracy, etc.


  • What does it mean if you haven’t declared anything?
  • Not declaring privilege is grounds for getting priority in the election?
  • Does not declaring privilege equate to being marginalised?
  • How to deal with people who refuse to admit privilege? What if we disagreed with the non-identification?

@marinappdf stop asking hard questions!!! :sweat_smile: :rofl: :joy:

Let me see what I think…

It would be a statement that you enjoy no privileges. Which, see below, if false would be quite easy to notice.

In a collective sense, yes. Individually, not necessarily. The idea is that we want representation of all social realities. So, under the rule I suggested, if you don’t enjoy privilege X but there are already people like you among the elected, you won’t be given priority individually.

Someone without any privileges need not be marginalized. Just like someone missing only one privilege can be. I see marginalization as a personal trait that depends on your life history. Even if you’re not privileged you may still manage to step out of marginalization if you’re lucky or very well fit for professional success. You’re still underprivileged and still suffer stigmatization, but you may be able to achieve conditions wherein you can live a wholesome life in spite of that.

That’s where the voters, the community kicks in. A candidate that does not admit some blatant privilege they enjoy is exposing their lack of honesty and it’s up to the community to refuse voting for them. Also, during the elections, all candidates must be able to answer questions about how they relate to their privileges or lack thereof. Note that most of the privileges we’re considering are quite simple to assert when considering a candidate: if they advanced in life as a male; if they’re perceived as white; if they live in a rich country; if they grew up with a roof, food, free time and education. The only item that might require more in-depth explanation is the conservative privilege, but it shouldn’t be too hard to validate given the Interwebs and a brief explanation.

So, the community must understand what is at stake here. If a white dude says he doesn’t enjoy male or white privilege he’s basically revealing his unfitness to represent our community and people must score him accordingly: zero.

So… that’s how I imagine it could work.

1 Like

Ok, i like this.

In this case, the quota we be not for people from marginalized/etc. groups, but for people that don’t enjoy of any of this privileges. And the other 3 are just the better voted, regardless of their privileges.

Let’s say, the 3 best voted are elected, and the other 4 seats go for the quota.

The self-identification should could public (is there a way of doing it without being rude?) before the voting starts. No validation or verification will be done, that’s on the voters common sense (?).

About this:

I tend to be West centered, after all, that’s my reality, so this makes sense and is complete for me. I would love to hear from people from the East, please, @gayatri , @JiLi and @hpy , what do you think?

Not sure if I understood this. We can definitely work to better self-development of people on regional levels, but that’s not where we are right now, so the structural “disadvantages” (injustices, oppressions, etc.) that affect people opportunities will be up independently of what we do. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant.

Anyway, it seems very hard to consider all the regional tones.

We set this quota to promote equity. This means, considering all the opportunities differences, we want to promote better opportunities to people from social minorities. But also, the community council is about representativeness, so we do want several forms of diversity. The opportunity the council represents is the opportunity to “give” voice to groups, needs, world views that are systematically cut off. So is not about if some one, individually, was able to dodge, “escape”, of social injustices and oppressions, and found a way of getting opportunities. The quota aim to promote a council with people that represents, that will bring up, that will talk about, perspectives that are not usually heard on the technology development. The question thus is "Does the proposed quota systems promotes this?"


Hi @marinappdf,

Huge apologies for my late response to this thread. I confess I struggle a lot with this issue, and more so regarding my own identify. To keep my response (relatively) short, I will respond to the part where you tagged me, i.e. with regards to “West centered” concepts like male, white, wealth, conservative, and colonial privilege, etc.

My home country is Taiwan, and wealth privilege (and big wealth gap) is certainly a big deal similar to what I observed having collectively lived in the US and UK for 15+ years. Interestingly, there is also white priviliege, but in a strange - and in my opinion - unsettling way where “white” people are with special privileges and given more space when they are the extreme minority in a fairly homogenously Asian society. Back in Taiwan, I am aware of the male privilege that I have, and it is also similar to what I’ve seen in the “West” (though I try to avoid the West-East dichotomy). Another thing is that Taiwan has been subject to serial-colonisation over hundreds of years by both European and other Asian countries and didn’t stand on it’s own until 70-ish years ago, yet it is now considered to be heavily “Westernised”, which all gets very complicated.

On the other hand, I’ve trained and worked as an ecologist for most of my academic career in the US and UK. At least in the ecological sub-fields I’ve worked in, they’re dominated by white, old men and I’d be in the extreme minority. I remember being part of a marine conservation research project 2010-2013 (which was amazing in other ways, happy to share in another thread… there’s OSH potential there!) and of the probably 50+ people I worked with on and off during that time on field work or writing papers, I was one of only two “Asians” and there was literally only one African American woman. It’s not that people necessarily treat you “badly” all the time, but you are constantly reminded in subtle ways that you “stand out”.

All of this is to confess that I struggle with my own identify. I feel like I have so much privilege being where I am (for example, I was only a few out of hundreds of people graduating from my secondary school that went abroad for higher education) yet I have previously been “put” into minority buckets. Maybe this is all very context-dependent. Anyways, I think there are definitely people who would fit the governance goal of diverse representation better than me and can speak more on this topic in more thought-out ways.

Sorry this probably doesn’t help very much, but maybe someone can at least critique my points of view. I’d be grateful if someone can help me improve and be more aware/sensitive… :pray: Thank you!


Thanks for sharing!
I think this is very complicated subject, as you said, and we have a lot to learn about it.

I hope we can continue with this conversation.