Open source software and data, like Firefox and Wikipedia, are the foundation of the Internet and modern technology. Companies like Google and Facebook depend on open source software, and popular web sites like Wikipedia rely on open data. Yet women make up only 2% of the open source software community and 10% of Wikipedia editors.
The Ada Initiative helps women get and stay involved in open source, open data, open education, and other areas of free and open technology and culture. These communities are changing 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.
What we’ve accomplished
The Ada Initiative has reached over two million people since our founding in January 2011. The AdaCamp conference has been described as “life-changing” and “the best conference I ever attended.” AdaCamp measurably increase’s women’s commitment to open tech/culture and helps women get open tech/culture jobs, strengthen support networks, inspire new initiatives, and learn technical skills. Our conference anti-harassment policy is now in force at hundreds of events, including most open source conferences and the world’s largest Wikipedia conference. We advised dozens of organizations on how attract more women speakers and attendees to events, including PyCon US 2013, which had a record-breaking 20% women attendees. The Allies Workshop teaches people of all genders practical skills to support women in everyday work and life. For more details on our programs and strategy, see what we do.
When we began our work, most open tech/culture community members were unaware of the obstacles facing women in their communities, much less how to solve them. With the help of over 700 sponsors and donors and thousands of volunteers, we led a sweeping revolution in awareness of what women have to overcome to participate of open tech/culture. Now the majority opinion is that the lack of women in open tech/culture is a problem and people of all genders have a responsibility to solve that problem.
People of the Ada Initiative
Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora co-founded the Ada Initiative in January 2011. Our goal was to advance the cause of support women in open technology and culture by paying activists to work full-time on solutions. Previously, they volunteered for over ten years in open source software, open culture communities, and women in computing activism. The Ada Initiative’s board of directors includes Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation and Caroline Simard, former VP of Research and Executive Programs at the Anita Borg Institute. We draw upon the experiences and wisdom of a diverse advisory board including people involved in open source software, Wikipedia, open hardware, computer security, feminist activism, and fandom.
The Ada Initiative is named for Countess Ada Lovelace, widely acknowledged as the world’s first computer programmer. Since she published the source code of her program, the world’s first programmer was also a woman open source programmer. We think this sets an excellent precedent.