– Helina Shrestha
Research shows that only a small number of female mappers are actively contributing to the global OSM community (See the diagram). Clearly, open Street Mapping is male dominated field, which follows the tradition of conventional surveying and mapping discipline. Again, people do need reasons for getting involved into something. It might come out of interest, as I recall one of the mappers bringing it out “I like open data! I find it interesting.” or the interest may be hidden for some obvious reasons. For me, my being a Geomatician became the real reason to map! And mapping is a fascinating job indeed!
Now that I have begun to map, I have a lot of experiences to share; some exciting and some weird ones though! Armed with a GPS device and field papers, walking along the streets running the trails and collecting interesting features around me is what I enjoy during my field visits. But what I really don’t enjoy is people giving me blank stares, sometimes fierce ones, dogs barking from every corners and walking along the never-ending dark gallis of Kathmandu which really scare me off.
It really encourages me when people come by my side and show their interests to help me locate the crucial details of their areas; people do have interesting questions indeed! As I recall from my latest field visits, seeing me take the GPS position of her house a woman came to me and asked “Will this house get demolished, too?” (as you people are aware of the fact that streets in Kathmandu are under expansion these days and a lot of houses are getting demolished). Many ask me the reason for taking down the details of their properties and stretch their necks along with mine when I look up to read their advertisement boards.
The whole thing is, you have mixed experiences while mapping and most of these are what I term as “fun”. Ideally I respect their concerns and I can’t remain without mentioning my gratitude towards them for helping me find my way out when I lose my directions. In fact it feels really good to talk to people and get them excited.
Being a part of the community, I feel proud of my contributions and really hope people get some benefit out of it. And this is to all the girls who want to contribute to the community. It’s never too late to be a part of an evolution (or some call OSM as a revolution). What we seek for is a variety of ideas integrated. This is an open community and all you need to do is start decorating the map with your beautiful sketches. I believe that Maiden mappers can make difference!