Author Archives: Ada Initiative

Allies Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area

Want to spend an afternoon learning how to support women in your workplace and community? The Ada Initiative is running two Allies Workshops open to the public in the San Francisco Bay Area: one on Friday, March 7th in Redwood City and one on Tuesday, March 11th in San Francisco, from 3pm to 5pm.

A woman explains while a man listensThe Allies Workshop is a fun 2-hour discussion-oriented workshop focusing on simple, everyday ways people can use their power as an ally to make their workplace or community more welcoming and attractive to women. We discuss what to do in practical, real-world scenarios ranging from how to welcome a woman attending a conference for the first time to speaking up when a co-worker makes a sexist joke at the office party. People usually leave the workshop feeling ready to take action and eager to learn more.

We usually teach this workshop at a company or conference, but are experimenting by running two workshops open to the public. Register now to attend the workshop on Tuesday, March 11th in San Francisco (both a few blocks from BART or Caltrain). The workshop focuses on what men can do, but works best when about 50% of attendees are men and 50% people of other genders. We provide drinks and snacks during the break (including vegan and gluten-free options).

Registration fees range from $200 to $0, depending on your economic situation. Many employers have personal development or training budgets for their employees. Ask your manager if your employer will pay for the registration fee for the Allies Workshop.

Allies Workshop San Francisco
Date: Tuesday, March 11th, 3pm-5pm
Location: San Francisco Paramedics Association
657 Mission St Suite 302
San Francisco, CA 94105

Transit: 2 blocks from Montgomery St BART station, 1 mile from 4th and King Caltrain station
Bicycle parking: Bring your bicycle inside to the conference room, plenty of room for multiple bikes
Car parking: Driving not recommended, but metered street and garage parking are available for around $10/hour nearby
Accessibility: ADA accessible, email for any other ways we can make attending easier

We invite you to join us at one of these two Allies Workshops! You can also schedule an Allies Workshop at your workplace. Email us for more information at

Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

Support Ada Initiative when you shop on Amazon

There's a new simple way to support Ada Initiative for Amazon users. People who shop through Amazon can now automatically donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the Ada Initiative through the Amazon Smile program.

How to sign up:

  • Go to
  • Type "Ada Initiative" in the search box
  • Click "Select" button on the first result
  • Install a browser extension to auto-redirect to the Smile URL (Firefox) (Chrome)

Now you should see "Supporting: Ada Initiative" in the top left-hand corner of the Amazon web page whenever you go to Amazon. You are only donating when you shop at Amazon using the URL and you see "Eligible for Amazon Smile" above the "Add to Cart" button.

We understand that people do or don't shop at Amazon for many good reasons. If you already shop at Amazon, and would like to support us through Amazon Smile, thank you!

Ada Initiative keynotes at Code4lib

Code4LibWe're excited to announce that both Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora and advisor Sumana Harihareswara will be giving keynote addresses at this year’s Code4Lib 9th Annual Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 24-27, 2014. The Code4Lib community is "a volunteer-driven collective of hackers, designers, architects, curators, catalogers, artists and instigators from around the world, who largely work for and with libraries, archives and museums on technology 'stuff.'" Valerie and Sumana were honored to be elected keynote speakers by an open vote of the Code4Lib community.

Valerie’s keynote address will be in the form of an on-stage conversation with Roy Tennant. The discussion will be about improving diversity in the Code4lib community, and will include questions from the Code4lib community. Roy is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research and author of a monthly newsletter and numerous books about technology in libraries, as well as one of many people calling for improved gender diversity in the library technology community.

The Code4lib community was formed in 2003 to allow library, archive and museum developers and technologists from around the world to informally share their approaches, techniques and code. Registration is currently closed, but if you are interested you can register for the waitlist . The conference will also be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.

If you have a question for Valerie about diversity in the Code4Lib community or library tech in general, please email We look forward to working with and meeting more people in the libtech community!

Open source company Inktank sponsors Ada Initiative again in 2014

InktankWe're thrilled to announce that Inktank is sponsoring Ada Initiative again in 2014 at the Bronze level!

Inktank took a leading role in supporting women in open tech/culture when they became the Ada Initiative’s first-ever sponsor at the Bronze level in 2012. Inktank’s mission includes encouraging the equitable representation of women in open source projects like the one Inktank supports, the Ceph open source file system.

CephCeph is a massively scalable, open source, software-defined storage system that runs on commodity hardware. Delivering object, block, and file system storage in one self-managing, self-healing platform with no single point of failure, Ceph ideally replaces legacy storage and provides a single solution for the cloud. Inktank’s mission is to ensure the enterprise-wide adoption of Ceph so that businesses can decrease their storage costs, increase their operational flexibility, and effectively manage their rapidly growing data.

"We're happy to again support the Ada Initiative’s mission to support women in open technology and culture," said Bryan Bogensberger, Inktank CEO. "Ada's objective—to make open source communities and companies more accessible to, and inclusive of, women—benefits all of us who are forging ahead based on an open source philosophy. We encourage women engineers, tech writers, QA specialists, and so on to contact Inktank or participate in the Ceph community to be part of an open source community that strives to be inclusive, caring, and respectful. This sponsorship is part of our work to improve gender diversity in Ceph and open source in general."

Seven women with arms on each others' shoulders

AdaCampers CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

Inktank is our first 2014 Bronze sponsor, joining our recent sponsors
HerokuRackspaceBloombergDreamwidthPalominoDB, GaloisLincoln Loop, and Oddbird. These companies generously sponsor all of Ada Initiative's work, including our work fighting harassment at conferences and online, running the AdaCamp conferences for women in open tech/culture, and teaching the Allies Workshop to people who want to support women in open tech/culture directly.

Inktank is hiring people to work on open source around the world—so please check them out! From wherever you live, you can help contribute to open source software and the open source community at large with Inktank job openings that currently include storage developercommunity manager, and storage consultants.

Progress for women in open tech/culture in 2013: End of year wrap-up

CC BY-SA Adam NovakOur 2013 wrap-up of progress for women in open tech/culture is a little earlier than usual since the Ada Initiative will be experiencing some "downtime" from December 11 through January 1. (Computer metaphors are super useful, especially just after a nation-wide news story about a certain important web site in the United States…)

Overall, 2013 was a year of continuing progress for women in open tech/culture. Three recent high-profile incidents show how far we've come as a community: the controversy over removing unnecessarily gendered language in the open source project libuv, the debate over Chelsea Manning's name and gender in her Wikipedia entry, and two sexist presentations at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

While these incidents highlighted sexism and transphobia in these communities, their resolutions were incredibly positive. The libuv project not only removed the gendered language, it also adopted a formal policy against exclusionary language. Chelsea Manning's Wikipedia entry was eventually correctly named in English as well as most other languages, and the editors who fought against the renaming were banned from editing pages related to trans issues. And TechCrunch not only repudiated the sexist presentations, it adopted an anti-harassment policy for all of its events. Still not impressed? Just read the timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities for 2010 and see how many incidents turned out this well back then!

CC BY-SA Adam Novak. Woman with pink hair speaking and gesturing

CC BY-SA Adam Novak.

Thanks to your support, the Ada Initiative is working hard to accelerate this change in direction. Since our last progress report in mid-2013, we have published more resources for conference organizers, organized conference scholarships for 21 women in open tech/culture, taught two more Allies Workshops, shared best practices for fighting harassment with the skeptic/atheist and science fiction & fantasy communities, spoken at women in open tech/culture conferences, and much more. The anti-harassment policy movement continues to grow beyond our wildest dreams: recent adopters include all TechCrunch conferences (an organization formerly notorious for sexism under previous leadership), the Entomology Association of America's conference (bugs!), and live action role playing (LARP) groups. And we did it all in between raising over $100,000 for women in open tech/culture, hiring a new Director of Operations, and filing our taxes (groan).

AdaCamp logoOur plans for 2014 include running several AdaCamps around the world, teaching dozens of Allies Workshops, more Wikipedia-related work, and online community codes of conduct. In early 2015, we hope to have our first AdaCon – a 400+ person conference for women in open tech/culture and the people who support them. If you'd like to sponsor AdaCamp/AdaCon or hold an Allies Workshop, please contact us at for more information.

The progress we've made together over the last three years has only been possible because of people like you – the donors and sponsors of the Ada Initiative. By making it possible for us to work on supporting women in open tech/culture full-time, you are making a difference!

Here's to the progress we made together in 2013, and to more in 2014!

Donate now

For those of you making end-of-year donations to charity, the Ada Initiative is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your donation may be tax-deductible in the U.S. (consult your tax advisor, we are not tax advisors, yadda yadda required lawyerese). For more information, see our donation FAQ.

Heroku sponsors Ada Initiative

Heroku logoWe're thrilled to announce that Heroku is the newest Ada Initiative corporate sponsor! Contributing at the Bronze level, Heroku joins our other 2013 corporate sponsors: Heroku, Rackspace, Bloomberg, Dreamwidth, PalominoDB, Galois, and Lincoln Loop. These companies generously sponsor all of Ada Initiative's work, including our work fighting harassment at conferences and online, running the AdaCamp conferences for women in open tech/culture, and teaching the Allies Workshop to people who want to support women in open tech/culture directly.

Heroku provides a cloud application platform for applications written in a variety of languages, including Python, Ruby, Java, and many more. Heroku supports many popular open source software services and tools, and uses open source software extensively. Improving the health and diversity of the open source community is important to Heroku for both practical and ethical reasons. As a practical step in that direction, in addition to supporting our efforts, Heroku has committed to not funding conferences that don't have, and refuse to adopt, a code of conduct. Read more about Heroku's work in this direction on their own blog.

Photograph of Matt Zimmerman

Matt Zimmerman, VP Platform Engineering

Matt Zimmerman, Heroku VP Platform Engineering and former Ada Initiative board member, was part of the team working on the new community code of conduct, aimed at reducing hostile and unwelcoming behavior in the open source software community. "The Ada Initiative has made great progress in providing templates and guidance to help address this problem, and I'm proud that my colleagues at Heroku want to make a difference too."

Heroku is hiring for a variety of jobs, including working with open source software. Heroku and its parent company Salesforce is a Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. Heroku is working hard to create a supportive and positive working environment for everyone.

Ada Initiative "downtime" December 11 through January 1

Mary and Valerie laughing

Mary and Valerie

Both Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora and Director of Programs Mary Gardiner will be taking extended leave soon. Mary Gardiner will be taking indefinite maternity leave beginning no later than December 5, 2013, returning some time in 2014. Valerie Aurora will be taking mandatory medical leave from December 11, 2013 through January 1, 2014, inclusive. During this time, our new Director of Operations, Suki McCoy, will be working and keeping the lights on: responding to routine queries, planning the next AdaCamp, and similar tasks.

From December 11, 2013 through January 1, 2014, the Ada Initiative will not be able to respond to press inquiries, requests for comments, or any other requests for non-routine responses or assistance regardless of their importance. During this unavoidable hiatus, we are completely unavailable through all channels of communication for these kinds of requests.

We will have some scheduled social media announcements and blog posts during this time, but if you would like to keep up on the latest on women in open tech/culture news, we recommend:

We are looking forward to returning to our work on supporting women in open technology and culture in January! Thank you to all of our supporters for making this work possible.

Welcome new Ada Initiative advisor, Nele Noppe

The Ada Initiative has a wonderful advisory board which gives us feedback on planned projects and our overall mission and strategy. We're pleased to welcome a new advisor, Nele Noppe!

A woman with her chin on her hand, smilingNele Noppe is a Belgian fanfic writer, fan artist, and soon-to-graduate Japanese Studies PhD student. Her main interest is how fanworks fit into open culture, and she's currently doing research on that by comparing how the production and distribution of Japanese fanworks resembles that of open source software. She's an advocate for open access, collaborative knowledge creation, and using tech to make and spread research in new and exciting ways. Since 2012, she's been working as a staff member of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), where she's mainly involved with the Fanhackers project that aims to make sure important research and info on fan culture reaches the people who need to know about it – fans, academics, open culture activists, companies and so on. You can find her on twitter at @unjapanologist, and in many other spaces listed on her website.

Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos: Video, transcript, slides, and summary now available

A full length oil portrait of a woman in 19th c. dress

Ada Lovelace

How has the perception of Ada Lovelace, the world's first computer programmer, changed through history? What does that changing view say about us as a society? That's the subject of "Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos," the keynote at the world's first conference celebrating the achievements of Countess Ada Lovelace, hosted at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora was honored to give the keynote speech at this historic conference.

Now you can watch the video (with transcript), read the transcript alone, or read the slides of the whole talk here. A summary of the talk is at the end of this post.

As part of our mission to support women in open tech/culture, we work hard to make the video and transcript of Ada Initiative talks available to as many people as possible. Transcripts are surprisingly cheap and fast to create. We use and recommend StenoKnight CART Services, whose proprietor, Mirabai Knight, is also leader of the open source software stenography project, Plover. Make your videos accessible to those who can't or don't want to watch them and support women in open tech/culture, all at the same time!

Talk summary

Today, Countess Ada Lovelace is known primarily as the world's first computer programmer, having published in 1843 a program written for an early computer designed (but never built) by Charles Babbage. But our view of Lovelace has changed significantly over time, starting with her early fame as the poet Lord Byron's daughter and extending into deeply personal book-length attacks on her personality and accomplishments.

This talk discusses the changing perception of Ada Lovelace from her birth to 2013, with emphasis on how this reflects the importance of computing and the perceptions of women's proper roles in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In Lovelace's lifetime, science and mathematics were considered an appropriate leisure time pursuit of upper class Victorian society, including the occasional woman as long as she did not intrude too far. Today, women are still excluded from STEM at greater rates than men, but we also have a greater understanding of how this is happening and much wider agreement that we need to end discrimination against women in STEM. Over the same period of time, computers went from interesting curiousities to crucial components in multi-billion dollar industries and the military-industrial complex. What was once an unimportant piece of trivia – who wrote the first computer program – became a hotly contested symbol of the struggle to define who should be included in the computer revolution and who should be "naturally" left out.

In the end, all the popular versions of the Ada Lovelace mythos – world's first computer programmer, Lord Byron's daughter, delusional mentally ill gambler – are incomplete and often perpetuate harmful stereotypes about women in STEM. The talk ends with some proposals for new, more complex stories we could tell about Ada Lovelace, as a brilliant and flawed human being with variety of interests, who happened to see farther into the future of computing than anyone else for the next hundred years.

Wikimedia Diversity Conference

People sitting in chairs looking interested

CC BY-SA Christopher Schwarzkopf (WMDE)

The international Wikimedia Diversity Conference was held Nov. 9 – 10, 2013, in Berlin. This event focused on increasing gender and geographic diversity among contributors to Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, and WikiVoyage. A full report was just posted on the Wikimedia blog today!

Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora led a session on how to adapt diversity initiatives that worked in other open tech/culture communities to Wikimedia projects. The slides and notes are available online. You can also watch a short video (uncaptioned, in English) on the talk.

The main points of the talk were: a summary of what worked, a summary of what didn't work, and suggestions and discussion for concrete steps going forward.

What worked and what didn't

What we've seen work to increase diversity in open tech/culture are the following:

  • Building affinity groups
  • Leveraging conferences
  • Existing community leaders taking action
  • Paying people to do diversity work

What didn't work were the following:

  • Only volunteers working on diversity
  • Organizing one-off workshops or events
  • Keeping problems secret/being nice to power
  • Preventing safe private spaces
  • Adopting vague and/or unenforceable codes of conduct
  • Flame-style discussion

The slides and notes go into greater detail on each of these points.

Suggestions for concrete steps forward

Here are all of the suggestions we made for taking concrete steps forward, based on what worked in open source software and matching it up with Wikimedia community style:

  • Create invite-only, private, safe spaces for affinity groups
  • Financially support some WikiProjects
  • Document discrimination in permanent, less “neutral” area
  • Develop funding stream to pay people to work on diversity
  • Support existing culture of social justice
  • Fund research into paid work already being done

The suggestions related to this list that the attendees particularly liked (and had often made themselves earlier in the conference) were summarized in the report-out from the gender diversity discussion group:

  • Create invitation-only online social group for women in Wikimedia projects
  • Adopt and enforce Friendly Space policy in online groups
  • Create Wiki Women's User Group
  • Fund organize repeating, frequent, in-person events for WikiProjects
  • Support event organization: logistics support, policy cookbooks, training for organizers
  • Pay people to support WikiProjects (admin-type work, not editing)
  • Hold international women-only Wikimedia conference
  • More documentation: effectiveness of events, best practices

The Ada Initiative is continuing to work with Wikimedia community members to support their implementation of these ideas in their communities. If you'd like to contribute, please contact us at We hope to have more to report soon!