Jesse Ruderman: "I wanted to atone for years of That's What She Said jokes"

Jesse Ruderman

Jesse Ruderman

Jesse Ruderman (@jruderman) works for Mozilla, where he finds creative ways to break Firefox. He's our largest individual donor, giving $4096 $5120 to the Ada Initiative, so we wanted to know more about him!

Q. Why did you donate $4096 $5120 to the Ada Initiative?

Several fellow Mozillians I admire and trust had already decided to back The Ada Initiative, so I checked out their site. This bit in an early version of their FAQ struck a chord with me:

Open technology and culture are shaping the future of global society. If we want that society to be socially just and to serve the interests of all people, women must be involved in its creation and organization.

I hadn't thought of this, but it's completely right. And reading this told me a few things about the Ada Initiative:

  • They're in this for precisely the right reasons, even if I'm not.
  • They're great at identifying multiplier effects — something I consider important in deciding where to donate.
  • They have an optimism and tone that I think will be effective at making men want to help, regardless of their initial opinions on women and feminism.

I'd like to have more women in my field, for the usual selfish het-guy reasons.

I'd like to have more people in open source communities, because I want more awesome open source software to exist. Focusing on women makes sense to me for a few reasons. First, we don't have to speculate about whether barriers to participation are real, because the barriers that disproportionately affect women (impostor syndrome, sexualized environments, etc.) add up to a very measurable effect. Second, the skewed gender ratio itself creates barriers. Third, success will be easy to see, making it easy to keep momentum.

I wanted to atone for years of That's What She Said jokes (most of which weren't really that funny) and any negative side effects of Pornzilla.

Q. How did you decide how much to donate to the Ada Initiative?

It seemed to make more sense than donating smaller amounts over time, especially since they were just getting off the ground. I didn't realize this would cost me a chance to get various shirts and stickers. ;)


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