The WordPress Foundation Begins Accepting Applications for the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship

WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow
WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow

Earlier this year, the WordPress Foundation created a scholarship in memory of Kim Parsell to celebrate her life and contributions to WordPress. With the date and location secured for WordCamp US, applications for the scholarship are now being accepted by the Foundation.

Details of the scholarship are as follows:

  • It is a scholarship for a woman contributor with financial need who has never attended WordCamp San Francisco before.
  • It will cover the ticket cost, flight, and lodging.
  • It will not cover things like taxis, meals outside the official event, or airport transportation.
  • One scholarship is awarded per year.
  • It is funded by the WordPress Foundation.
  • The application deadline is September 2, 2015.
  • A decision will be made by September 16, 2015, and applicants contacted.

Because of the nature of this scholarship explained here, applicants must fulfill four requirements.

  1. A woman (this includes trans women)
  2. An active contributor to the WordPress open source project (through one of the contributor teams or as a local meetup/WordCamp organizer)
  3. Someone with financial need
  4. Someone who has never attended WordCamp San Francisco (the precursor to WCUS).

Kim was an older woman who encouraged others, especially women around the same age group to get involved with WordPress. In light of this, older women are highly encouraged to apply for the scholarship if you meet the other requirements.

Kim once told me that attending WordCamp San Francisco 2014 was one of the best experiences of her life. It was her first WordCamp San Francisco and although she was unemployed at the time, she was able to attend thanks to financial assistance received from the WordPress Foundation.

Thank you to Jen Mylo, the WordPress Foundation, and Matt Mullenweg for not only creating the scholarship, but for providing the opportunity for others to potentially have the same experience.

11 Comments


  1. It looks like I will leave the first comment on this thread. I’m glad this scholarship has been established. Kim was huge for a lot of us, and going to something like WordCamp US will be a definite help to whoever is selected for this. I went last year and loved it. It’s continued to be beneficial even up to today.

    Report


  2. Jeff,

    Is there a way to contribute to this?

    Report


  3. This will make me hugely unpopular here in expressing this opinion, knowing how communities like WP react to something that dares differ from the ‘group think’ dynamics that are endemic to open-source societies, but I’ll say it anyway.

    An award limited to only one gender is discriminatory. If this award was earmarked for a specific race, or a specific religion, or maybe only those under 30, or perhaps only to those from a particular country or region, it would also be discriminatory.

    You can rationalize however you want, but discrimination is discrimination no matter how much you try to disguise it with so-called ‘good intentions.’

    This award should be offered to everyone, or no one. It should be based on merit without regard to gender or anything else.

    Perhaps my argument is generational. There are a few followers of this site who are old enough to remember other ‘de jure’ discriminatory practices. I well remember ‘white only’ buses, trains, drinking fountains, and restrooms. I well remember many schools (and professions) closed to specific races, as well as women. I well remember ‘quotas’ and ‘gentleman agreements’ and hotels that would advertise the anti-Semitic code words “Churches nearby.” I well remember restaurants for whites only and clubs for men only.

    So now we have an award for women only.

    When this award was first proposed it was hailed as a huge ‘step forward.’ For some/many of us of a ‘certain age’ we see this award as a huge step backward.

    Hit me with your best shot, but having been born in the 1940s I can say with assurance that those born in the 1980s and 1990s have little or no understanding of the battles that were fought and the sacrifices that were made to end ‘de jure’ discrimination… and it pains us to see it brought back again.

    Report


    1. This is something that comes up and is often repeated. It’s incorrect and is just another way of rationalizing not changing the “status quo”.

      This scholarship has been clearly represented to encourage the participation of women in the WordPress community. It is not discriminatory to help or invite groups that are clearly and demonstrably underrepresented in the community. It does not affect or devalue any existing group by encouraging the participation of others.

      You can rationalize however you want, but discrimination is discrimination no matter how much you try to disguise it with so-called ‘good intentions.’

      Discrimitation is defined as follows courtesy of a quick search engine query.

      1. the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

      2. recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.
      “discrimination between right and wrong”

      You’re combining the first with the second. They’re separate. When you treat someone badly that’s the first. When you prefer Toblerone chocolate to Hershey’s special dark that the second.

      Saying that this is discrimination is like claiming school teachers who call on students in the back of the class is somehow discriminating on the students who sit in the front of the class. That’s wrong, the voices of the whole class is valuable.

      Your view and statement doesn’t make you unpopular or picked upon. But it does continue to reinforce the view that everything is fine and all things are equal. That’s not the case.

      Kim Parsell was a wonderful woman who got involved, made a difference and encouraged others to do the same. If this scholarship encourages just one woman to follow in her footsteps and have such an impact then that has to be a good thing.

      Report


    2. I’ve struggled with replying to this comment since it was submitted to the site. On the one hand, I see your point about the scholarship being specifically for a subset of people but on the other hand, isn’t that what most scholarships are? From the acholarships I’ve seen, they all have requirements and sometimes, the only people who can meet those requirements are exclusively men or women depending on the nature of the scholarship.

      In this case, the requirements to get the scholarship are pretty clear and I don’t think they discriminate against anyone. I think Jan Dembowski says it best.

      Kim Parsell was a wonderful woman who got involved, made a difference and encouraged others to do the same. If this scholarship encourages just one woman to follow in her footsteps and have such an impact then that has to be a good thing.

      Report


      1. Jeff, your point is well-made and I totally understand.

        Having spent a lot of my years in and around an academic environment, in my experience, scholarships that are gender or race specific are made by private organizations that are gender or race specific. It is their right to spend their money however they see fit.

        At one time the state of CA had special procurement contracting process for women-owned small businesses which gave them extra ‘points’ in the bid process. The state courts ruled it invalid. (There are still extra points awarded to small businesses owned by military vets.)

        I didn’t believe that the WP Foundation was either gender or race centric, but this new award rather says to me I may have been wrong and that it just might be.

        It would be interesting to see what the reaction would be if there was a scholarship for only white men, or only Asian women, or only people from an Hispanic origin, etc.

        Maybe that’s next, and if so, no one should be surprised since the precedent has been set via this new award.

        Report


      2. I didn’t believe that the WP Foundation was either gender or race centric, but this new award rather says to me I may have been wrong and that it just might be.

        The WordPress Foundation is not gender or race based and you continue to misconstrue what this scholarship is about.

        In the simplest terms it is to encourage the increased participation of women in the WordPress community.

        Why would you have a problem with that goal? Once again: helping or encouraging a group of people does nothing to dissuade other groups nor is it unfair to established groups.

        You haven’t demonstrated how this is a negative thing or even remotely unfair. You have made it clear that you personally dislike this.

        It would be interesting to see what the reaction would be if there was a scholarship for only white men, or only Asian women, or only people from an Hispanic origin, etc.

        If it did happen then there would be tangible reasons for that but for now you’re stretching.

        However I am convinced that the same individuals would react the same way. Those that applaud moves like this one as a step in the right direction would continue to do so. Those that see it as a negative will only pan this effort and efforts like this.

        I see this Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship as a good thing. You apparently see this as negative. You can continue to rationalize your point of view but I’ll hope that a candidate is selected and follows in Kim’s footsteps.

        Report


  4. I’m more a lurker and never commented before on here, but I can’t let this one go.

    1) Kudos to you @A.Canton for not making your point anonymously.

    2) You are completely right. There are still too many real discriminatory problems out there for anyone, albeit with’ good intentions’, to deliberately add to the pool.

    Report


  5. The mere act of “discrimination”, devoid of historical context, isn’t the problem. We don’t get to justice by pretending like injustice doesn’t exist, we get there by proactively addressing injustice as it is. I have enormous respect for the WordPress Foundation for understanding this and doing something about it.

    Report


  6. If you are correct about the WordPress community being an unjust one… that since inception has actively discriminated against some demographics, then perhaps the proper response is for the WP Foundation to develop and implement its own ‘affirmative-action’ plan for not only WordCamp, but perhaps for WordPress as a whole.

    Such a program would ensure that certain demographics get free or reduced prices on WordCamp tickets, meals, seminars, etc. The Foundation could also enact a directive (which would be hard to enforce but would help to rectify the injustice you allude to) that all premium plugins and themes listed on the .org site stipulate that certain demographics are to receive them free or at reduced cost.

    Perhaps we should have awards for each demographic (except probably for white males under 35 years of age) so as to help broaden ‘the base’ of the community? Just a thought.

    Hmmm. “Proactively addressing injustice as IT IS.” I’ve never seen any discrimination in this community or at any of its events. I’ve never known anyone claim discrimination. I’ve never known it to be an issue and I simply don’t understand they reason to have an award targeted to only one specific population… which to my mind is a blatant practice of discrimination.

    But if you claim that the WP community is rampant with discrimination such that we NEED an award to help redress this situation, I guess we have to agree to disagree about how to address such an injustice.

    I’ve not seen it myself.

    Report


    1. then perhaps the proper response is for the WP Foundation to develop and implement its own ‘affirmative-action’ plan for not only WordCamp, but perhaps for WordPress as a whole.

      You continue to conflate encouraging women as being discriminatory against others. Again, that is not the case.

      Such a program would ensure that certain demographics get free or reduced prices on WordCamp tickets, meals, seminars, etc.

      That’s not stated in the scholarship notice anywhere, it’s obviously about encouraging more women to participate in this community via a recipient of this scholarship.

      The Foundation could also enact a directive (which would be hard to enforce but would help to rectify the injustice you allude to) that all premium plugins and themes listed on the .org site stipulate that certain demographics are to receive them free or at reduced cost.

      Premium plugins and themes? How did that come up? That’s a wild stretch and has nothing to do with encouraging the participation of women in the WordPress community.

      Perhaps we should have awards for each demographic (except probably for white males under 35 years of age) so as to help broaden ‘the base’ of the community? Just a thought.

      I’m confident as part of the “demographic” you think is being discriminated against (and that remains not to be the case) that such a scholarship isn’t necessary*.

      Why are you opposed to the idea of balancing the playing field of the community? How does helping underrepresented groups diminish you in anyway?

      I wont presume that you ever asked for help, but if someone tried to help you would you turn them away unless they helped everyone else too at the same time?

      *Note: I was helped by the WordPress Foundation to attend an event in San Francisco in 2014. The appropriate reply from me wasn’t “Help all people or it’s discrimination”. My reply was “Thank you.”

      Report

Comments are closed.