All the R Ladies

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Two groups are making and impact in improving the gender diversity of R users worldwide. The R-Ladies organization is creating chapters worldwide to facilitate female R programmers meeting and working together, and the Taskforce on Women in the R Community is working to improve the participation and experience of women in the R community.

R has more participation by women than many programming communities, but there's still a long way to go towards equity: the R Foundation's Women in R Taskforce estimates that between 11% and 15% of R package authors are women. (The count is based on package author first names; some manual corrections were needed because Hadley is categorized by genderizeR as a female name.)

In 2012, Gabriela de Queiroz founded the first women-focused R user group in San Francisco. Since then, "R Ladies" concept has expanded to a global franchise in eleven cities:

  • San Francisco, California, USA 
  • Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA
  • London, England
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  • Los Angeles, California, USA
  • New York, New York, USA
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Paris, France
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA

This is a great first step to increasing the participation by women in a currently male-dominated field. As the R-Ladies leadership note in their grant application to the R Consortium (which was funded in July):

The R community suffers from an underrepresentation of women in every role and area of participation, whether as leaders, package developers, conference speakers, conference participants, educators, or users. The R community needs to promote the growth of this major untapped demographic by pro­actively supporting women to fulfill their potential, thus enabling and achieving greater participation.

In addition to the groups created by R-Ladies, the Women in R Task Force is making strides towards achieving these goals. For example, the next useR! conference in Brussels will strive for gender balance amongst invited speakers, tutors, and committee and session chairs, and ensure particpation by women on panel discussions. Childcare will also be provided at the conference, and gender statistics will be published on the website. 

For more information on R-Ladies (including contacts to help you create a local chapter in your area), and the Women in R Taskforce, follow the links below.

R-Ladies Global : Women in R Taskforce