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2021 Inclusion in Standards Report

Women in Standards members and friends,

This month I am excited to announce the publication of the 2021 Inclusion in Standards survey report entitled "Inclusion in Standards: A Survey of International Standards Organizations."

As the author of the Women in Standards 2021 Inclusion in Standards study and with the amazing assistance and support of the Inclusiveness in Standards committee members, we'd like to extend our thanks to the standards organizations and many standards participants, professionals, and more that contributed to the development of this survey report. 

In the 2021 survey, myself and the Inclusiveness in Standards committee aimed to continue our exploration of diversity in standards with focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected volunteer participation among standards organizations and to evaluate diversity initiatives that might be underway or being considered by organizations.

In this month's newsletter, we will explore learning points from the study and welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please feel free to download and share the study with others and help us raise awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in standards.

Karin Athanas
Executive Officer & Board President
Women in Standards
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Interest Categories

When developing a standard, understanding the motivations of a standards participant is helpful. They may be participating because they represent a consumer group trying to make something safer or work better. Others might be there because they use the standard at work and want to make it easier to understand or keep up with current technology. There is a wide range of reasons for pursuing participation in standards - all of them good reasons, so please participate! - and to help keep track of those reasons, standards organizations use what is called an 'interest category.' An Interest Category serves to identify why you are there and what your interest in the standard is. 

Why? you ask... well, in standards development it is important to work with all stakeholders and promote a balance of views on committees. Identifying interest categories help organizations do this. Where they see they have a low number of one interest category, they can reach out to the community to seek additional participants and this helps them achieve better balance. (Another reason why you should definitely 'answer the call' when you see a standards organization seeking volunteers!)

Three very common categories are - Producer, User, and General Interest. In last years' 2020 Inclusion in Standards survey report, we dig into what those are and how to differentiate them, but in short a producer will "incorporate standards into their products and services," a user is described as "users or user organizations that then buy those products and services, or users of the output of those services" and general interest is everyone that is not a user or producer. 

In the 2021 study, we learned that "32% of respondents indicated that they made use of Producer, User, and General Interest as their three interest categories" and no others. The study did not compare the responses by geographic region, but it would be interesting to confirm if the three categories are more commonly used in the United States, where accredited standards organizations are required by the ANSI Essential Requirements to use at least those three, or if they are commonly used throughout the world.

Beyond the well known three of user, producer, and general interest, standards organizations have developed subsets and new categories to help them better understand the interests of their participants. In the 2021 study, "55% of all respondents indicated that they used 4 or more interest categories" and 41% of standards organizations responding to the survey stated that they allowed participants to self-identify their interest category when they registered or applied to participant in standards. 

And finally, it was noted that the interest category assigned might change over time or based on the standard being developed with one respondent stating that "Many of the organizations that engage in our work shift between interest categories based on their relation to a standard. So in one project Company X might be a User of the standard, but for another project the same company might be a Supplier.”

In summary, interest categories help everyone better understand the motivations for why a person or company has chosen to particpate in the standards process and it supports balance and promotes diversity on the committees.

For those interested in reviewing additional examples of interest categories used by standards organizations, review Appendix 1 of the 2020 Inclusion in Standards survey report where you'll find a list of all interest categories identified by participating organizations. 

2021 Annual Challenge

The Challenge recognizes you for your engagement with others, your efforts to build and grow our community, and the support you’ve lent to our programs through volunteer service and contributions of your expertise to our learning series and other educational programs.

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Committee Updates

Over the June-July months, all three committees have been hard at work considering issues of inclusiveness, developing education to help the next generation of standards volunteers, and planning our 2022 events. 

In the Inclusiveness in Standards Committee, progress was made on finalizing a process for the evaluation of reference materials such as publications and recordings. The process will be used by the committee to create a library for the standardization community, providing guidance on references that will support the community in their journey to learn and pursue action related to inclusion, equity, and diversity. 

The Education Committee will next meet this Friday and will be continuing its work to develop a multi-tier set of education models on standardization. 

Join a committee today and support your fellow members on standards-related projects. 
Leadership Transition

Karin Athanas ImageIt was two years ago this month that Women in Standards Executive Officer and Board President, Karin Athanas, took ownership of the Women in Standards mailing list and launched the monthly E-Newsletter of the organization. This would be the start of many newsletters, e-news updates, studies and more authored by Karin Athanas.

On July 31, 2021, Karin Athanas will be signing off as the Executive Officer and Board President of the organization, but will remain as a Pro member and active committee participant. As evidenced by the recently published 2021 Inclusion in Standards study, she continues to be committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in standardization and being a resource to the standards community.

Karin Athanas is also the Executive Director of the TIC Council Americas, a trade association located in Washington, DC with HQ in Brussels, Belgium and is looking forward to continuing to engage members and the standards community.

"I hope to see you all at an upcoming event and please reach out if ever I can be of assistance to you." - Karin Athanas, Executive Director, TIC Council Americas.
Open-IX Member Update

Open-IX is proud to be a part of WiS and applauds the organization's continued efforts to educate, uplift and support women in standards organizations across all fields. Open-IX creates technical standards for the telecommunication and colocation industry. Within this male dominated field we focus on openness, diversity and inclusion of all community members. We encourage everyone to be confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas because all voices matter. We are stronger and achieve more when we support diverse perspectives. Please see our recent press release on this very topic! OIX/WiS PR


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Peek into the News
In late June INCITS published Inclusive Terminology Guidelines (click here) for the implementation of its Principle of Inclusive Terminology (click here). An effort which supports their goal of replacing offensive terms with more inclusive language in its documents.
Better Data Sharing in the Build Environment - In a new workshop report, the National Digital Twin Programme explores top needs of industry in seeking a common approach to data and model sharing. More here

Participate in an educational presentation and voice your thoughts on standards development. 

Submit an article for publication in the WiS E-news.

Follow the Women in Standards on LinkedIn and Facebook and get up-to-date information on new standards activities - events, committees, and federal programs.

Participate in online chats on issues of standards and raising the voice and participation of women in standards. 

Gain life-long friends, champions, and mentors within the standards community. 

Promoting Diversity in Standardization
"A higher percentage of standards developers are reporting participation rates of women at 50% or higher with 15% of respondents (compared to 5% in 2020) reporting that the participation of women at the 50-75% or over 75% levels."
In the 2021 Inclusion in Standards survey report entitled "Inclusion in Standards: A Survey of International Standards Organizations" we explore progress underway at standards organizations in pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

While 71% of survey respondents report that they are not tracking the demographics of their participants, we were nevertheless excited to hear about the work underway at many organizations pursuing DE&I programs (see the 2021 report for a list of SDO diversity programs identified during the survey) and would like to share some of the learning points from the survey. 

Many organizations identified that they had launched a diversity and inclusion council or committee. These groups play a critical role in raising the voice of under-represented and minority groups within organizations and making progress on addressing invisible hurdles to inclusive processes and environments. 

Working with diversity groups like Women in Standards to support outreach efforts. We might be a bit biased, but we hope more standards organizations will work with Women in Standards to bring visibility to the unique challenges faced by under-represented and minority groups. 

Promoting diversity, gender equity, and more in their industry channels. Many standards organizations reported in the 2021 survey that their demographics matched that of their industries. As an example, if there is a lack of racial diversity in an industry, a standards organization in that industry reported a similar lack of racial diversity in their membership.
Making it doubly important to pursue DE&I throughout the industry from high school, through college, and all through an individual's career track. Standards organizations should also consider partnering with diversity groups in their industry to further promote under-represented or minority groups.

Promotion of the standardization contributions of women. On this, we would encourage standards organizations to bring visibility and promote the contributions of all under-represented and minority groups including those of different genders, races, class, physical and cognitive ability, and geographic location and more. Visibility raises awareness and serves as a critical beacon to others that may feel unseen as an under-represented or minority group. Seeing someone that looks like you achieve an important milestone makes it that much more real and possible that you can achieve the same success.

Final Thoughts
Regarding the 71% of survey respondents that reported that they are not tracking the demographics of their participants, reasons for this included a lack of technology with which to track the information, uncertainty on how to ask the question or collect the data, and a concern that participants would respond negatively to their seeking this information.

It is recognized that these are difficult challenges and one solution will not fit all standards organizations. Software such as Excel is used by some, online forms and survey tools are also common, outreach through phone and email can support your efforts and in person promotion provides opportunities to engage members on this important issue and help garner support from within.

Those reading this article are also encouraged to reach out to their standards organizations to promote the need to track diversity metrics. Each voice can make all the difference in raising the visibility of this issue with organizations, letting them know that they have the support of their members and participants, because we can only make progress once we have all the information. 
The Women in Standards supports the professional development of its members. Here are a few positions currently available at standards developing organizations: SDO/Org individual members can post job vacancies, calls for committee members, and manage all listings from their SDO/Org portal. Don't miss out, register today as an SDO member.

Visit the Women in Standards Participant and Employment Opportunities page today, click here.
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