Re: [Gendispatch] Academia (Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF)

Theresa Enghardt <> Thu, 25 February 2021 05:56 UTC

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To: Fernando Gont <>, Keith Moore <>
Cc: GENDISPATCH List <>, "''" <>
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From: Theresa Enghardt <>
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Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2021 21:56:30 -0800
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Academia (Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF)
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Hi Fernando,

See inline:

On 24.02.21 20:35, Fernando Gont wrote:
> On 25/2/21 00:59, Theresa Enghardt wrote:
>> […]
>> Some benefits of participating in the IETF for researchers, PhD
>> students, etc, potentially to be added to Section 4 as a separate
>> group, include:
>> - Getting feedback on your work, e.g., assumptions you may be making,
>> things you may have overlooked, direction for future work
>> - Input for your own teaching (learning about the IETF and its
>> processes has very much enhanced discussions with my students)
>> - Making industry connections, e.g., for joint projects
>> - Professional networking, career advancement
> Probably part of the issue here is that our I-D talks about
> "participation", where we probably meant something along the lines of
> "active participation" or "making contributions to the IETF" -- e.g.,
> reviewing documents, submitting Internet-Drafts, etc.
> What you describe does indeed seem beneficial, but in principle
> doesn't seem to necessarily contribute to the work of the IETF.
>   -- but please do correct me if I'm missing something or
> miss-interpreting what you're saying...

I was talking about active participation, too.

For example, if a researcher goes and presents their work at an IETF
Working Group meeting, I would consider that an IETF contribution, e.g.,
that the Working Group can get ideas from. For instance, a few years
ago, we have had several academics present their work in TAPS, and that
was definitely a lot of helpful input. Not sure how common this style of
contribution is, but I think it does happen especially when a smaller WG
is in an "early stage" where they benefit from a lot of input and ideas.
(Of course, a lot of work that is relevant to IETF Working Groups is
getting presented at IRTF sessions, e.g., MAPRG, IRTF Open, or at ANRW.
But I can understand if you consider these out of scope for your document.)

Another way for academics to contribute is to implement (part of) a
draft as an academic exercise, or have a student implement it as a
project, and then give feedback to the Working Group. We have had
multiple such implementations in TAPS. Even if the implementation is
most likely not going to be widely deployed, and even if development may
not continue beyond the duration of a project, it is still helpful input
for the Working Group. And for the academic, it gives the implementer a
relevant and interesting project to work on, the implementer gets some
experience with IETF technology, and they get to make professional
connections, which can result in further collaboration. Definitely a
win-win, and something that I've seen happen at IETF hackathons.

Moreover, academics may submit an idea as an Internet Draft just to get
feedback on it. Even if maybe the draft will not make it all the way to
an RFC, or some parts of the original draft may be taken out and become
part of a different draft, etc, it can be a very valuable perspective
for the academic. Again, I have seen this happen in TAPS.

Finally, I liked reviewing drafts even as an academic, because it helped
me understand current work better, which, again, may provide context and
input for future research.

Perhaps as an additional perspective, at ANRW 2018, Sharon Goldberg gave
a brief presentation on why and how academics may want to participate in
the IETF, see the first 10-15 minutes of this recording:

> […]
> FWIW, what you note is one of the motivations/arguments for e.g.
> introducing f2f meeting fee waivers -- since in such cases there could
> be people that might be able to attend the meeting (space/time-wise),
> but might not be able to do it as a result of the meeting fees. IIRC,
> netdev was also hosted next to the IETF meeting in the past.

Yes, definitely. Now maybe it would also be interesting to consider if
the demographics of participants in the IRTF or in Netdev are
substantially different from the participants in the IETF.

> [...]
>> One specific example would be Economic Constraints, Section 9:
>> Universities usually have a travel budget and they may also have
>> rules on how much a hotel is allowed to cost per night. IETF hotels
>> are usually, if not always, outside of that budget, and overflow
>> hotels are, too.
> I couldn't agree more. In fact, from our perspective this was actually
> assumed (!)... but we should definitely spell this out.  (the same
> probably also applies to the list of "recommended restaurants" that
> somehow circulate in the attendee mailing-lists, as well as some
> interesting 90USD+/meal dinners that get organized during the week).

Agreed. I think it's a good idea to mention that the meeting fee is not
the only economic barrier to participation, but often, flight and hotel
are much more expensive. (Especially for students, for whom the meeting
fee is reduced.)