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Gender Representation in the IETF Nominating Committees

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Mallory Knodel
Last updated 2024-04-04
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Network Working Group                                          M. Knodel
Internet-Draft                       Center for Democracy and Technology
Intended status: Informational                              4 April 2024
Expires: 6 October 2024

        Gender Representation in the IETF Nominating Committees


   This document extends the existing limit on nomcom representation by
   company in order to improve gender diversity by ensuring that not all
   voting members of the IETF Nominating Committee (nomcom) belong to
   the same gender.

About This Document

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   The latest revision of this draft can be found at
   nomcom-gender-representation.html.  Status information for this
   document may be found at

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 6 October 2024.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2024 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.  Code Components
   extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as
   described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Gender Representation in the IETF Nomcom  . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Suggested Remedy  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Privacy Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   5.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   6.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   7.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4

1.  Introduction

   The literature supports the claims that lack of gender diversity in
   hiring teams reinforce under representation of gender minorities in
   leadership positions and that lack of gender diversity in leadership
   perpetuates gender discrimination [Vervoe].

2.  Gender Representation in the IETF Nomcom

   The IETF considers influence and weaknesses in nomcom selection in
   [RFC8713].  Likewise, gender diversity in IETF leadership should be
   considered a community strengthening exercise insofar as gender
   diversity has been shown to lead to more productivity, creativity and
   reinforces a culture of respect and value for all participants.  If
   we consider the nomcom as a "team", it will itself benefit from
   having more gender diversity among its voting members.

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   The nomcom itself conventionally asks candidates some form of the
   question, 'Describe your perspective on what diversity should mean
   for the IETF, and the degree to which existing IETF participation
   meets those expectations.  What have you done in the past to
   encourage participation by those who might otherwise not have
   considered engaging with the IETF?' implying diversity is regarded in
   the IETF.

   To address gender representation in the IETF nomcom, at a minimum we
   can ensure that all voting members are not of the same gender.  All
   attempts to ensure gender representation in the nomcom should
   include: a. increase participation in the community from women and
   non-binary individuals so that the eligible pool is more gender
   diverse.  b. encourage eligible women and non-binary members of the
   community to accept selection to the nomcom.

   While the IETF does not routinely confirm the gender of volunteers,
   we have committed to improving gender diversity in the community by
   way of measuring it and identifying concrete steps to mitigate

3.  Suggested Remedy

   The “two-per-organisation limit” can easily be extended to ensure a
   nomcom consisting of no more than n-1 members from any one gender
   (where n is the number of available volunteer slots), requiring skips
   for the nth slot until a gender minority volunteer is chosen.

   This assumes that for any given pool therein contains at least one
   gender minority volunteer.  If there does not exist one gender
   minority volunteer in a given year's pool, this rule is withdrawn and
   the community should be notified of this reason that all ten nomcom
   volunteers will have the same gender that year.

   This short remedy might update [RFC8713].

4.  Privacy Considerations

   Serving on the nomcom is voluntary.  Public disclosure of one's
   gender and pronouns in the IETF Datatracker should remain voluntary.
   Disclosure of one's gender during meeting registration for the
   purposes of tracking communty diversity should remain voluntary and

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   The pronouns used for an eligible nomcom volunteer in conversation,
   mailing list discussion, recorded meeting videos and notes can be
   strong indicators of that volunteer's gender.  However it is best
   practice to resolve any doubt by directly asking the volunteer
   whether they identify as a member of the dominant gender.

   As part of nomcom processes that change as a result of this
   document's recommended remedy, the gender of eligible nomcom
   volunteers must not be publicly documented, and wherein this
   information is used to determine the pool, it must be kept private.

5.  Security Considerations

   There are no security considerations for this document.

6.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA actions.

7.  Informative References

   [RFC8713]  Kucherawy, M., Ed., Hinden, R., Ed., and J. Livingood,
              Ed., "IAB, IESG, IETF Trust, and IETF LLC Selection,
              Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the IETF
              Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP 10, RFC 8713,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8713, February 2020,

   [RFC9389]  Duke, M., "Nominating Committee Eligibility", BCP 10,
              RFC 9389, DOI 10.17487/RFC9389, April 2023,

   [Vervoe]   Vervo, "Gender Discrimination in Hiring Practices", 2022,

Appendix A.  Acknowledgments

   Thanks to Martin Thompson and Suresh Krishnan for informed initial
   thoughts on bringing this idea to the community.

Author's Address

   Mallory Knodel
   Center for Democracy and Technology

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