The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter. So, we decided that we’d like to take this opportunity to promote an organisation that supports and empowers women and gender minorities in STEM fields that still suffer from underrepresentation. As a journal, we publish a lot of articles on software and code that are used in the study of different fields in ecology and evolutionary biology. We have a wide audience of R coders and R users who follow us on social media and read our blog. With that in mind, R-Ladies seemed like a fairly obvious group for us to promote…

Post provided by MAËLLE SALMON and HANNAH FRICK, two members of the R-LADIES GLOBAL TEAM.

What is R-Ladies?

R-Ladies is a global grassroots organisation whose aim is to promote gender diversity in the R community. The R community suffers from an underrepresentation of gender minorities (including but not limited to cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer, agender). This can be seen in every role and area of participation: leaders, package developers, conference speakers, conference participants, educators, users (see recent stats). What a waste of talent!

As a diversity initiative, the mission of R-Ladies is to achieve proportionate representation by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently underrepresented in the R community. So our primary focus is on supporting minority gender R enthusiasts to achieve their programming potential. We’re doing this by building a collaborative global network of R leaders, mentors, learners, and developers to help and encourage individual and collective progress worldwide.

R-Ladies Cape Town meetup, February 2019
R-Ladies Cape Town meetup, February 2019

There are R-Ladies meetup groups all around the world. We call them chapters,  and they organise local meetings with talks, tutorials, book clubs, social events, etc. in cities. There’s even a remote chapter, for R-Ladies who can’t attend events in person because of their location or personal situation (e.g. parents of small kids). We also have a global community Slack for exchange and collaboration, a Twitter account with a weekly rotating curator, etc. There are loads of cool initiatives under the R-Ladies umbrella!

How Can You Get Involved?

If our mission resonates with you, you can participate in the community as an R-Lady or support us as an ally!

As an R-Lady

This seems like a good point to remind everyone that R-Ladies includes (but is not limited to) cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer and agender people. A first easy way to enter the community is to register in our directory. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be listed on our website and it will be easier for people like conference organisers find and invite you!

R-Ladies Cape Town meetup, February 2019
R-Ladies Cape Town meetup, February 2019

After you’ve registered, check out  the R-Ladies Meetup page to see if there’s a chapter near you. You can join their Meetup group or follow them on Twitter. If you can’t attend meetups in person, you can join R-Ladies remote. If there’s no chapter near you and you want to start one, send an email to to get onboarded by the global organisation.Today, on International Women’s Day, you can also follow the R-Ladies IWD 2019 Twitter account. It will feature different R-Ladies chapters all day long.

You can also take advantage of our global initiatives:

So many initiatives that you might feel overwhelmed! But they’ll help you get to know us better… and maybe you will soon be in charge of a chapter or new initiative?

A group picture of R-Ladies at the satRday event in Paris, February 2019.
A group picture of R-Ladies at the satRday event in Paris, February 2019.

As an R-Lady Ally

R-Ladies is very grateful for the advocacy and support of R-Ladies allies. If you’re interested in becoming an ally, here’s how you can help:

  • Provide material support to your local R-Ladies chapter if there’s one nearby. You can do this by helping them find a free location for meetups or offering to sponsors drinks and snacks at a meetup via your company. Every free pizza counts! 😉
  • Tell your R friends and colleagues that are members of gender minorities about the existence and mission of R-Ladies. Please spread the word! (At this point, we’d like to thank Methods in Ecology and Evolution for the invitation to write this blog post – a good example of helping spread the word.)
  • If you’re charge of organizing an event or looking for job candidates, use our directory to identify suitable R-Ladies candidates. You can also reach out to a chapter or an R-Lady you know and ask them if they’d be willing to spread the word about the opportunity or if they have a great candidate in mind.
  • Participate in R-Ladies abstract peer review that Jennifer Thompson organises to help R-Ladies get their submission in shape for technical conferences: become an abstract reviewer by filling the form. No more manels please!

More Balance in the R Community and Everywhere Else!

We hope to meet you soon as an R-Lady or R-Lady ally. R-Ladies is not the only effort in the R community for gender minorities: for instance, R Forwards the R Foundation taskforce on women and other underrepresented groups – has a different and wider scope. If you use other tools than R, be on the lookout for similar tech organisations like PyLadies (or switch to R of course 😉 ) and Women in Machine Learning and Data Science (WiMLDS). There’s a lot of effort towards more diversity in tech communities, so we can choose to be hopeful on this International Women’s Day!