Working to Bring More Women and People of Color Into the API Specification Conversation

If you have worked within the world of API specifications you know that, like the rest of the technology sector, it is men, especially white men that are dominating the conversation. When it comes to moving forward OpenAPI, AsyncAPI, JSON Schema, and other leading API specifications, there is a severe lack of women actively participating within the community, speaking, and contributing to each of the specifications. Over a decade of working in these communities and organizing events I have learned there are numerous reasons for why this is, ranging from it being intimating to be the only women or person of color in the room all the way to direct harassment and hostility towards individuals. It’s a big problem, and it’s one we need to keep working on improving. I know first-hand that the API Specifications Conference, API Days, Postman Galaxy, and AsyncAPI Conference invest a lot to make sure speakers and attendees are as diverse as possible, but as pointed out today in the AsyncAPI SIG Meeting by AsyncAPI’s Senior Technical Writer Alejandra Quetzalli, we have a HUGE amount of work to bring more women into the API specification conversation.

To help drive more conversation and action around getting more women and people of color involved in API specifications work, I wanted to share my thoughts here on my blog, but also fire up discussions within each of the top API specification communities to solicit ideas for how we can get more women and people of color involved in the discussion, but also to explore what some of the factors are for keeping women out of the discussion currently. You can jump into the discussion across all three of the leading API specification communities here:

  • OpenAPI - The discussion forum associated with the specification repository on Github.
  • AsyncAPI - The discussion forum as associated with the community repository on Github.
  • JSON Schema - The discussion forum as associated with the community repository on Github.

We are looking to have this conversation out in the open, sharing what obstacles are in place when it comes to women and people of color joining in the conversation, as well as brainstorm some ideas for how we can bring in more diverse voices at all levels of the conversation. I am very interested in helping drive this discussion within the API specification communities, but it is also a top priority for me on my Breaking Changes show. I am determined to get to the point where I have an equal representation of men, women, non-binary, but also more international, as well as black and brown voices present. To help me reach this goal in season two of the podcast, here is some of what I am currently doing.

  • Team - I am looking to hire more women and people of color as part of the production team for the show.
  • Research - I dedicate time each week to researching guests on LinkedIn and the blogosphere, where I prioritize product and engineering managers, as well as business leadership who are women and people of color.
  • Guests - Strict schedule for season two that enforces a balance of men and women in the schedule, as well as a diverse set of international, black, and brown voices joining me on the show to discuss APIs.
  • Amplify - I will be evaluating all blog posts, tweets, press releases, and other marketing and social media to ensure that there is equal representation for women and people of color when it comes to representation in visuals and storytelling.

What else can I do? I am looking for ideas that will help me change the balance of this on the show, but I know from experience that I will need to do this for real on the ground in the API specification communities as well as on my show, otherwise I will always be working overtime to balance things out on the show. I have a CRM dedicated to helping me keep track of the diverse voices I am looking for in the world of APIs, but as a white man I need more ideas and suggestions from the community on how we can change things up. Jump in on one of the conversations in either the OpenAPI, AsyncAPI, or JSON Schema communities, or feel free to Tweet or email me if you’d prefer. If you are someone from any of the underrepresented communities that are regularly absent from technology and the world of APIs, feel free to ping me directly for help learning about how you can get more involved, and how we can better showcase the work you are already doing. I am also not looking just at women and people of color to step up, I expect that more of you white men are going to step up and help me do the work here to help me find the diverse voices we need to change the tone of the API specification space—I appreciate all your help!