What is Open Inclusivity and why does it exist?

What it is:

Open knowledge/hacking/citizen science might just be a movement that could help change the world for the better. It won’t be able to do that, however, if the organizations that make up or intersect with the movement allow for and excuse discrimination within them. This new movement is rapidly taking shape and it is up to every individual that operates within it to conduct themselves in an ethical manner, which means that no discrimination based on race, sex, class, age or any other such factor should be tolerated. Everyone who is interested and capable of being involved, should be included.

We are also welcoming those from fields that intersect with and inform open knowledge to post their codes of conduct, especially those who are associated with organizations in industry or academia who intersect with citizen science organizations. Science and technology, where gender and racial imbalances are often downright shocking, have a long way to go as well.

We strongly feel that ALL of human society must become an equal playing field if we as humans are to survive and thrive. One way to do that is to start small within our own sphere and make sure that everyone who wants to participate can, unless they discriminate against or otherwise cause harm to their peers.

This site is intended to function as an interactive movement-wide “staff handbook” that will allow participating organizations and individuals to contribute to creating a code of ethical conduct that can help everyone involved understand how to behave in a respectful, open and tolerant manner that will help the movement grow and thrive. It will also help build bridges between the more traditional fields and the new alternative structures.

It is also intended as a conduit for those who have faced discrimination to speak openly about their experiences with the hope that the spreading of such information will help correct the problem, should they be unable to find justice within their own organization. It will also create a network of concerned activists and citizens who can be mobilized to take action against organizations and individuals who refuse to conduct themselves in an ethical manner.

A repository of resources regarding discrimination and harassment will be provided to the community.  A few different options for speaking out are included.

Please note that this organization is very new and that this website is very much a work in progress. We welcome your help in shaping and actualizing it. 

Why it exists:

OI’s founder Jen Kotila decided to try to create a solution to a problem that she learned about the very hard way– Jen experienced bullying, sexual harassment, racism, sexism, and mobbing within the hacking and biohacking labs Labitat and Biologigaragen. At the time of writing, she has been effectively mobbed out of the lab by those who were harassing her and their supporters. This is very common in harassment cases, especially when the person who was harassed speaks out publicly.

When Jen first walked into Labitat and Biologigaragen, she was coming from an arts and humanitarian background and was not aware of the horrendous problems that the tech sector generally has with inclusivity and harassment. The data are appalling, the stories are appalling and being directly affected by the rampant systemic problems that plague hacking can be devastating to an unwary individual who is expecting to be treated fairly and humanely.

When Jen learned that she was not the only person who had experienced such treatment, that whole separatist labs that exist to create safer spaces by only allowing women or people of color as members exist in the movement due to how widespread these systemic issues of discrimination are, she decide that enough was enough and that no other person should have to experience what she and so many others have within a movement that loudly proclaims its inclusivity often without even taking the most teetering step in walking the walk of that statement.

She originally conceived of openinclusivity.org in part (along with the idea described above) as a portal to help others name and shame anyone who has been unrepentantly abusive to them (as she did via social media and at public protests), but it has proven too difficult to accommodate such matters at OI at this time. Perhaps sometime in the future. However our hope is that OI will be a catalyst that will prevent any such episode from occurring again. For now, we only really feel comfortable hosting her case as it’s the one we know the most about (obviously!). We also hope to collect instances of already settled cases with permission of the person who suffered.  We also LOVE and promote at every turn Geek Feminism’s Timeline of Incidents, that hosts many cases from tech and other geek sectors and we encourage people to speak out there.  Sadly, active cases are simply beyond our organizational capacity at this time.

Our hope is that Open Inclusivity will help drastically reduce the number of such instances as no one deserves to be humiliated, shamed and attacked for their gender, sexuality, race or any other such criteria.