As told by Page and Sheila
On March the 8th, International Women’s Day, we ran a continuous feed of awesome R-Ladies profiles from our directory via @rladies_iwd2018. It was a blast! And a lot of team work too! To round out our three-part blog series of the IWD Directory campaign, we’ll discuss topics related to privacy law, contact information collection and the future of our R-Ladies directory project. You can also read the Part 1 and Part 2.
The conundrum of contact information
During the course of our R-Ladies IWD twitter campaign, a conversation occurred on Twitter about the contact information strategy in our directory. In particular, whether providing Twitter handles rather than email addresses as the primary means of contact would prevent more traditional organizations or organizers from connecting with the individuals listed. For reference, here is the twitter thread started by Hadley Wickham.
To continue the thread discussion, Sheila and Page are working to make our goals and data collection guidelines and options as transparent as possible. The directory is an evolving project and the following note outlines some of the thoughts and plans we have for improving it.
R-Ladies Directory and GDPR
The R-Ladies directory is meant to facilitate networking between R-Ladies as well as a networking between R-Ladies and the outside world (potential employers and collaborators, etc). However, R-Ladies Global has been challenged with providing this service while respecting the privacy of R-Ladies and upholding global data privacy regulations (e.g. EU Global Data Privacy Regulation [GDPR] effective May 2018 https://www.eugdpr.org/gdpr-faqs.html).
In an attempt to abide by the GDPR, we had opted to allow public links (e.g. Twitter and LinkedIn handles, personal websites), but not allow what we viewed to be more private data (email addresses, phone numbers) as contact methods. This is potentially problematic for a couple reasons. One, we do not know if the distinction is valid in the eyes of GDPR. As noted by Hadley Wickham and Steph Locke, the GDPR applies to any “online identifier”, which would then include handles. Two, not allowing email addresses as a contact method could create another barrier of contact. Some conference organizers may not use newer methods of contact such as Twitter, and without an email address may forgo contacting an R-Lady as a possible speaker.
To try and address both of these issues we are currently trying to rethink how we store and publicize contact information. One idea is to write a document detailing our data collection policies, asking for comments from the R-Ladies community. We hope to write it in such a way that it abides by GDPR guidelines, while allowing R-Ladies to use email addresses as a method of contact.
In the meantime, we suggest that R-Ladies who enter their information in the R-Ladies Global directory think about how best to serve themselves personally and professionally. This is especially the case when we ask each R-Lady to provide us with their preferred contact method. As we write this (and acknowledge that industry preferences may shift), we agree with Hadley Wickham that there is less of a barrier for potential employers to contact R-Ladies via LinkedIn compared to Twitter direct message. Alternatively, R-Ladies may prefer to send us a link to their personal website profile page that lists their email address. We do not store email addresses for R-Ladies listed in the R-Ladies Global directory for privacy reasons discussed above.
Future Directory Goals
Some other goals for the directory moving forward include making R-Ladies names searchable, rather than just being found by the alphabetical menu. We are also brainstorming and working on other ways for R-Ladies to connect with one another. For example, we have considered having R-Ladies select and/or create tags for themselves based on common interests (e.g., data visualization, bioinformatics) that will improve the usability of our directory.
Thank you for reading this series on how our International Women’s Day collaborative R-Ladies twitter campaign came together. Stay tuned for even bigger and better projects in the years to come!