Category Archives: Ada Initiative news

Announcing Ada Initiative's sponsorship policy

At the Ada Initiative, our mission comes first. That's why we will only accept sponsorships or partnerships that further our mission of increasing the status and participation of women in open technology and culture.

In the past, we have turned down or ended partnerships because we felt they were more likely to harm women in open tech/culture than help them. Usually we do not share these decisions publicly, but we have twice in the last year needed to make public announcements about the end of one of our sponsorships or partnerships: once in 2013 with Michael Schwern, and once in 2014 with GitHub. This has happened enough times that we decided to write and publish a sponsorship policy that explains how we decide to begin and end sponsorships and partnerships. Our new sponsorship policy is available here and included at the end of this post. The rest of this post explains the motivation and reasoning behind creating our sponsorship policy.


Why we need sponsorships at all

The Ada Initiative's mission is to increase the status and participation of women in open technology and culture. We make a difference by providing support, education, and tools to people of all genders to help them change the culture of their communities to be more supportive of women, and to help women overcome internalized sexism. We do this most effectively by paying people at market rate to implement our programs, rather than asking people (often women) to work for free in an unsustainable manner – a relatively common and harmful practice in this space. At a fundamental level, we raise money for our work because we are trying to change the system we live in at the same time that we, the organization and our employees, have to survive within that system – and that system requires money.

In order to pay our employees and fund programs like our AdaCamp unconferences, we accept funding from several sources: primarily donations from individuals, but also fees for teaching workshops, donations in kind, and monetary donations from corporations. (When we say "sponsorship" we refer to monetary donations, and "partnership" means in-kind donations or joint projects not necessarily involving money.) At the Ada Initiative, we strive to find creative ways to make our funding sources align with our mission as much as possible. This is part of why we rely so heavily on many smaller donations from individual people who share our mission: because they allow us the independence to refuse corporate sponsorships when we feel they might harm our mission.


How corporate sponsorships support our mission

Most corporate donations are in the form of public sponsorship of one of our programs or of the Ada Initiative’s work as a whole. In most cases, public sponsorships advance our mission in several ways, by:

  • Raising awareness of the Ada Initiative’s work
  • Showing that corporations in the field support this work
  • Sending a message to people and organizations working for and with the sponsor about expected behavior and values
  • Supporting employees within the sponsoring organization who advocate for change
  • Connecting women in open tech/culture with supportive organizations
  • Funding our work directly

We are incredibly grateful to our many generous sponsors who make our work possible.


How sponsorships and partnerships can harm our mission

In some cases, accepting sponsorship from an organization or person can actually harm our mission! Public partnership with the Ada Initiative can be used to silence criticism of an organization or person's actions that are harmful to women in open tech/culture. Sponsorship can be used as "proof" that an organization can’t be sexist, or isn’t sexist any longer, allowing the organization to avoid meaningful systemic change to prevent and make reparations for bad behavior. It can be used to provide cover for future abuses of women in open tech/culture. It can cause victims of abuse to doubt the reality of their experience and discourage them from reporting it. Even private sponsorships – donations that are made without revealing the identity of the donor publicly – can harm our mission, by causing us to potentially self-censor or limit our activities to avoid losing potential future income.


Why we created a public sponsorship policy

For reasons discussed above, the Ada Initiative has refused several potential sponsorships and partnerships, and ended a handful of existing sponsorships and partnerships. We also sometimes refuse to teach training workshops for certain organizations or participate in certain events. Reasonably enough, some people want to know how we make decisions about who to sponsor or partner with. Initially, we did not have enough information to create a formal written sponsorship policy, but after three years of experience making these decisions, we felt comfortable writing down and publishing our standards. We will continue to revise and update this policy as needed.


Why we can't comment on ending specific sponsorships

Our sponsorship policy explains our general reasoning and philosophy around accepting or rejecting sponsorships or partnerships. Because we don't want the Ada Initiative to be bankrupted by legal costs defending against potential libel or defamation lawsuits, we often can't give any further explanation or discussion of why we ended or refused any particular sponsorship or partnership (or even hint or imply why we did so, or discuss any legal advice we might have received). We're sorry about this, and note the bitter irony that these are the same considerations that often silence and harm the people we are trying to serve.


A note on dialogue and explanations

When the Ada Initiative disassociates ourselves with a person or organization, people often pressure us to engage in a dialogue with the person or organization concerned. Many people believe that most or all people and organizations they think well of have compatible values with themselves, and any apparent disagreement between them must be the result of a misunderstanding or lack of education. This is often expressed as "I'm sure if you just talked, everything would work out." Unfortunately, our experience over several years is that many people and organizations do not have compatible values with the Ada Initiative's mission, and in those cases, dialogue with them often serves only to legitimize their opinions and actions and use up the Ada Initiative's extremely limited staff time.

Please do not pressure us to engage in dialogue with a person or organization. As an organization involved in education, we are already aware of that option and have used it if we think it is appropriate. Also, please don't demand that we share more information – we can't usually publicly share all of the information we used to make a decision to disassociate ourselves for many reasons. Our desire to protect victims and to avoid bankruptcy through legal fees are only the two most common reasons.


How publishing our policy helps our mission and our sponsors

An explicit sponsorship/partnership policy with publicly defined standards will increase the effectiveness of an Ada Initiative sponsorship. Published sponsorship standards mean that when an individual or organization is an Ada Initiative sponsor, others know that the Ada Initiative has done some level of research on an organization or person and believes that, overall, they are working to support women in open tech/culture.

Being public about our partnership standards furthers our mission in another way: when people know that the Ada Initiative does due diligence on partners and will sever those relationships if necessary, they feel more comfortable reporting problems or concerns they have about the employees or statements of our current partners. This gives the partnering organization or person the chance to address and fix the problems, with the assistance and expertise of the Ada Initiative if they request it. Our experience with this situation so far has been overwhelmingly positive – for the people reporting the problem, for Ada Initiative sponsors, and for our mission of supporting women in open tech/culture.

Having high standards for Ada Initiative sponsors and partners is good for women in open tech/culture. Documenting and publishing those standards is even better.

If you believe that we are not living up to the standards and commitments we make in this policy, please email us at contact@adainitiative.org.

Read the most up-to-date version of our sponsorship policy here, or read below for the version as of the publication of this blog post.

Ada Initiative sponsorship policy

The Ada Initiative will only accept sponsorship or partnership arrangements that further our mission of increasing the status and participation of women in open technology and culture. This policy describes how we decide to begin or end these arrangements.

Beginning sponsorships or partnerships

We do some basic research on organizations and people who want to sponsor or partner with us before we accept. We search for public information such as news stories, ask current or former employees about their experiences, and draw on the personal networks of our staff and advisors. Here are some of the questions we ask when deciding whether a sponsorship or partnership will advance our mission of supporting women in open tech/culture:

  • What are the publicly expressed opinions and actions of senior leadership in this organization?
  • At a systemic level, does this organization or person improve the environment for women in open tech/culture or make it worse?
  • Do its business activities directly harm women or open tech/culture?
  • Does it encourage reporting of incidents of harassment or discrimination by or within its organization?
  • When it learns of such incidents, how does it respond?

We look for organizations and people that proactively work to prevent problems in the first place, accept responsibility for problems, apologize sincerely for the harm done, make amends where possible, review the circumstances that allowed the problem to happen, and institute changes to reduce the likelihood of future similar problems.

While past behavior is a strong indicator of future behavior, we don’t make sponsorship decisions based solely on whether or not an organization or person has done something wrong in the past. As organizations grow, the likelihood of someone in the organization doing something that harms women in open tech/culture grows. Organizations exist in the context of today’s society and its injustices and inequalities, and all of us are complicit at some level in those injustices and inequalities. We are interested in the direction of change in the organization, both internally and in its effect on the outside world.

Ending sponsorships or partnerships

Sometimes we will come to the conclusion that an existing sponsorship or partnership no longer supports women in open tech/culture. This is not a decision we make lightly, and usually involves a large number of factors and inputs, not all of which are public. Most, if not all, decisions involve weeks or months of discussion with dozens of people, trying to find more information that would help us make the right decision to support women in open tech/culture.

If we believe that it would be an effective use of our time to talk directly with the sponsor or partner about why we are ending a partnership, we may do so – e.g., if we have a long history of working closely together with a specific person at the organization, or if an organization has a history of asking for feedback and correcting mistakes, or if they come to us with what appears to be a sincere request for help. Part of what we do at the Ada Initiative is advise people and organizations on how to support women in open tech/culture. However, the Ada Initiative is a very small organization with extremely limited time and funding, so we choose carefully how we spend our time. We don't choose to invest our time in organizations or people who have a history of harassment by top management, who have a history of harassment without visible consequences for the harasser, who have repeatedly ignored advice from outside experts, or who appear insincere in their desire to support women in open tech/culture.

Resuming partnerships

If we have discontinued a relationship with a person or organization, we will consider resuming it only after significant, repeated actions over a long period of time, a major change in leadership, or other significant, costly changes that indicate a change in the future behavior of the person or organization. Some examples of actions that might change our partnership decision include: sincere and detailed apologies, making legal agreements to the benefit of injured parties, instituting new policies with credible enforcement systems, requiring new, tough, specific training for employees, making significant private charitable donations to related organizations, resignation or other consequences for responsible parties, signing non-disparagement agreements to the benefit of victims, monetary restitution of damages, hiring independent outside consultants and implementing their recommended changes, and dissolving harmful partnerships. In general, we prefer to see organizations and people supporting or following the lead of existing advocates and communities and the programs they create, rather than creating their own in-house programs or promoting their own employees' voices.

Reporting problems

If you believe that we are not living up to the standards and commitments we make in this policy, or would like to discuss concerns about one of our sponsors or partners with us, please email us at contact@adainitiative.org.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Ada Initiative

A record-setting year for the Ada Initiative: 3 AdaCamps, 9 Ally Skills Workshops, standalone Impostor Syndrome Training, and more

Women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

2014 is a record-setting year for the Ada Initiative! Since our last progress report, we've run one AdaCamp and opened applications for two more AdaCamps. We've taught 9 Ally Skills Workshops to over 200 people and kicked off a train-the-trainers program. Our Impostor Syndrome Training is ready to launch as a standalone class open to the public. Conference anti-harassment policies continue to spread to new fields, and specific, enforceable community codes of conduct are catching on for the first time. Read the rest of our (short, we promise!) mid-year report for 2014.

AdaCamps around the world

AdaCampMost exciting of all, in 2014 we are holding three AdaCamps on three continents: AdaCamp Portland, AdaCamp Berlin, and AdaCamp Bangalore. This is a year of firsts for AdaCamp: first time we have three AdaCamps in one year, first AdaCamp in Europe, first AdaCamp in Asia, first AdaCamp in a non-primarily English-speaking country, and first time we had to close applications early because we ran out of space. AdaCamp Portland is already finished, and applications for AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore are open now (and filling up fast). We are tentatively planning four AdaCamps on three continents in 2015! Thank you to all of our sponsors who made these three AdaCamps possible: Google, Puppet Labs, Ada Initiative donors, Automattic, Mozilla, Red Hat, Simple, New Relic, Linux Foundation, Spotify, Stripe, Gitlab, OCLC, O'Reilly, Pinboard, and Python Software Foundation.

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

You'll notice that Ada Initiative donors are an AdaCamp sponsor this year. This is because AdaCamp is a money-losing program for us – corporate sponsorships and registration fees don't cover the full costs of the event. In our last progress report, we said we were planning to run a larger standard format conference called AdaCon. We were planning to do this mainly because it would be easier to raise enough corporate sponsorship to cover the full costs of the conference. However, it would also mean that we would hold the event somewhere that women in open tech/culture already have lots of resources – like the San Francisco Bay Area – and that would be expensive and difficult to get to for women outside that area. We decided to instead hold more, smaller AdaCamps around the globe so that we could reach the women who need AdaCamp the most. As a result, Ada Initiative donors are likely to be major sponsors of AdaCamp for the forseeable future, and we thought you should get the credit!

Taking Impostor Syndrome Training to the next level

Mary Gardiner speaking with upraised hand

CC-BY-SA Alejandro Linares Garcia

We ran our Impostor Syndrome Training at AdaCamp Portland with some new exercises and material and got rave reviews! Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren't actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud, and severely affects the career, health, and happiness of many women in open tech/culture. After more than a year of tinkering and refinements, our Impostor Syndrome Training is now ready to be run as a 2-hour standalone class. We plan to start teaching classes in late 2014, after our yearly fundraising drive wraps up.

Ally Skills Workshop goes viral

Woman explaining while a man listensThe Ally Skills Workshop (formerly Allies Workshop) has really taken off! So far this year we taught 9 Ally Skills Workshops to over 200 people, where we teach men how to support women in open tech/culture with simple, every day techniques. We teach Ally Skills Workshops at conferences, inside companies, and as a publicly available class. People love it: "This was an amazing class. Great scenarios, great conversations. I really enjoyed not only the guided discussion, but break out conversations with co-workers were hugely enlightening." And it works: "I've already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued."

We also started a new program to spread the Ally Skills Workshop even faster: the Ally Skills Workshop Train-the-trainers class. We trained over a dozen instructors who teach their own version of the Ally Skills Workshop in their workplace or community, using our CC BY-SA licensed materials. From a train-the-trainers client: "We've run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many "a-ha" moments." We have several more Ally Skills Workshops scheduled and are taking reservations for more. Contact us at contact@adainitiative.org to learn more.

Conference anti-harassment work spreads a wider net

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Fighting to stop conference harassment was our very first project, and three years later, it is still bearing fruit. Our conference anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct continue to spread to more and more fields, this year including library-related conferences, co-working spaces, and hackathons. We also continue to publish more specific advice and refinements, such as how to handle harassment swiftly and safely, how to decide when a person who has harassed someone can return to an event, and a collection of resources for creating inclusive events. Our plans for the rest of 2014 include introducing better guidelines for alcohol at events to signal that people are still expected to behave with respect to each other, even when drinking.

Community codes of conduct get real

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Community codes of conduct are getting more popular this year – and this time around, some of them are specific and enforceable! Tim Chevalier created this useful comparison of community codes of conduct showing which ones include three important elements: specific details about what isn't allowed, how to report violations, and information about how it will be enforced. We also continue to provide free consulting to companies and organizations on implementing codes of conduct in their communities as well as conference anti-harassment policies, working with over a dozen organizations and people this year alone. If you have questions about implementing a code of conduct or anti-harassment policy, email contact@adainitiative.org.

The Ada Initiative is growing

If it seems like we accomplished a lot more in the last 6 months than usual, that's because it's true! We hired our third staff member, Suki McCoy, our Director of Operations, in November 2013, joining Executive Director Valerie Aurora and Deputy Executive Director Mary Gardiner. Mary was on maternity leave for six months after Suki joined, so we went from 1.5 full-time staff for the first three years of the Ada Initiative, to 2 full-time staff in the first half of 2014, and have been at 2.5 full-time staff since May 2014. The difference in what we can accomplish is astounding! We hope to continue growing during the next few years, until we can satisfy the full demand for AdaCamps, Ally Skills Workshops, and Impostor Syndrome Training. Thank you to all the Ada Initiative donors and sponsors who are a crucial part of this important work!

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Thank you from Suki, Mary, and Valerie!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Welcoming Sarah Sharp and Selena Deckelmann to our advisory board!

The Ada Initiative is glad to welcome a new member and a returning member to our advisory board, which gives us feedback on planned projects and our overall mission and strategy:

Photograph of Sarah SharpSarah Sharp is a Linux software developer in Intel's Open Source Technology Center, where she works on improving graphics for Intel Chromebooks.  Sarah is best known for creating the Linux kernel xHCI driver, which was the first released software stack for USB 3.0.  Sarah serves on the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board and is involved with the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) as the coordinator for the Linux kernel OPW internships. You can find her on twitter as @sarahsharp, or read her blog.

Sarah joins several other OPW organizers and volunteers — Marina Zhurakhinskaya, Karen Sandler, Liz Henry and Sumana Harihareswara — as an advisor to the Ada Initiative. We're looking forward to continuing to work with members of this key project increasing women's participation in open source software.

Photograph of Selena Deckelmann

Selena Deckelmann is returning as an advisor after a year's break; we encourage all our volunteers to regularly review their commitment to us and take time away as needed, and we're glad to have Selena as our first returning advisor. Selena is a major contributor to PostgreSQL and a data architect at Mozilla. She’s been involved with free and open source software since 1995 and began running conferences for PostgreSQL in 2007. She's the founder of several groups and events, including PyLadiesPDXOpen Source Bridge and Postgres Open, and a regular international speaker. You can find her on twitter (@selenamarie) and on her blog.

Welcoming Ellen Spertus to our advisory board!

The Ada Initiative loves working with our advisory board, which gives us feedback on planned projects and our overall mission and strategy, and we're always delighted to welcome new members.

Photograph of Ellen Spertus

We've recently been joined by a new member: Ellen Spertus is a professor of computer science at Mills College and a senior research scientist at Google.

At Google, Ellen has been a primary contributor to the App Inventor and Blockly open source projects and is currently working with Code.org. Highlights in her career-long focus on gender equity in computer science include her widely distributed 1991 report Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?; her joining the faculty of a women's college in 1998, where she helps lead reentry and interdisciplinary programs in computer science for students of all genders; and her years of work on gender-neutral software to teach computer programming. Ellen also has substantial non-profit experience, having served on the boards of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Stop Prisoner Rape (now Just Detention International), and the Human Rights Defense Center. You can find her on Twitter at @ellenspertus.

Ada Initiative founders Valerie and Mary both took early inspiration from "Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?" and are looking forward to working with Ellen, who has been an activist for women in technology for so long.

Thank you to two of our former advisors: Denise Paolucci and Sarah Stierch, for your immense help and support during your time as Ada Initiative advisors!

Ada Initiative welcomes Sumana Harihareswara to our board of directors

The Ada Initiative's governing board of directors, responsible for running our organization, welcomes our new director Sumana Harihareswara, as of April 29. Sumana is a long-time member of our advisors group, having joined in June 2011. She joins Valerie Aurora, Mary Gardiner, Rachel Chalmers, Alicia Gibb, Caroline Simard, and Marina Zhurakhinskaya on the board.

Sumana Harihareswara

by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY

Sumana Harihareswara works as the Senior Technical Writer at the Wikimedia Foundation. She has worked at Collabora GNOME, QuestionCopyright.orgFog Creek SoftwareBehavior, and Salon.com, and contributed to the MediaWiki, AltLaw, Empathy, Miro, and Zeitgeist open source projects. She has been editor and release organizer for GNOME Journal and is a blogger at Geek Feminism. Sumana has keynoted Open Source Bridge in 2012 and code4lib 2014 in addition to presentations at Open Source Bridge in 2010 and 2011, and at Foo Camp in 2010, and has been the Google Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women administrator for MediaWiki. She holds an MS in technology management from Columbia University and a BA in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She is on identi.ca and Twitter as @brainwane.

Thank you so much Sumana for volunteering to share your wide knowledge of free and open culture, your community organising skills, and your passion with us.

We also thank outgoing director Sue Gardner for her work from 2011–2014. Sue has stepped aside due to many other commitments, and remains a member of the advisory board.

Ada Initiative no longer partnering with GitHub

This week, GitHub published the results of an investigation into credible allegations of harassment and intimidation against one of its co-founders, the co-founder's wife, and another unnamed employee. It reported that its investigation had found no evidence of illegal actions but did find mistakes and poor judgement by unnamed persons, and announced the resignation of the co-founder in question. It was shortly followed by a blog post from the resigning co-founder which included a clear threat of legal action against anyone who said he or his wife had engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination.

The sum of these events make it impossible for Ada Initiative to partner with GitHub at this time. One year ago, we partnered with GitHub to offer free private repositories to over 500 women learning to write open source software. This offer ended in December 2013, but these repositories are still in use by many of the recipients. We will work to wind down the free private repository partnership in a way that causes minimum harm to the women using them. GitHub also sponsored AdaCamp DC and AdaCamp San Francisco, our conferences to support women in open technology and culture. We will not accept future sponsorships from or partnerships with GitHub unless the situation changes significantly.

Many resources are available for people wanting to prevent these kinds of problems in their own companies or communities. The Geek Feminism Wiki has a wide range of resources such as an explanation of why sexualized environments are harmful to women. Ashe Dryden offers consulting on increasing diversity at your corporation. Model View Culture regularly publishes insightful pieces on tech culture and the systemic factors affecting it. “The No Asshole Rule” is a management book on creating a culture that repels abusive people. The Ada Initiative Allies Workshop teaches men simple, everyday actions to support women in their workplace.

We are working hard to create a world in which women can participate in open source software, Wikipedia, and other areas of open technology and culture without harassment, intimidation, or discrimination. Sometimes this means refusing to partner with or accept sponsorship from specific people or organizations. It is also contrary to our principles to be silent when our existing sponsors and collaborators' actions consistently do not support our mission.

The Ada Initiative founders on funding activism for women in open source

This week, Ada Initiative founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora wrote about Funding Activism for Women in Open Source in the Funding issue of Model View Culture, drawing on lessons from their first years raising money for the Ada Initiative:

We founded the Ada Initiative with the principle of paying fair market wages to anyone doing work for us more than a few hours a week. In 2010, this was a moonshot. In 2014, it's increasingly how things are done. More and more diversity in technology initiatives are becoming paid activities, and a growing proportion of the technology industry recognizes this labour as something worth paying for[…]

[F]ull-time diversity activists who want to do effective, controversial, culture-changing work must often work out how to pay themselves, rather than taking existing jobs at tech companies or diversity in tech non-profits.

What follows is a survey of some of the most popular funding sources: corporate sponsorship, individual donations, and consulting and training.

Read the full article, The Ada Initiative Founders on Funding Activism for Women in Open Source, at Model View Culture to learn more about the rationale for each of these funding sources… and their pitfalls!

Welcoming Camille Acey, Annalee Flower Horne, and Andromeda Yelton to our advisory board

The Ada Initiative advisory board is a group of volunteers from across open technology and culture who have the passion, knowledge, and time to actively support women in open technology and culture. The advisors play a crucial part in the Ada Initiative's work: sharing their knowledge of communities like open hardware or Wikipedia, helping organize AdaCamp and other events, reviewing and writing policies and articles, taking a key role in fundraising, sharing their expertise in areas like law and non-profit governance, and, of course, giving advice.

In order to keep in touch with open tech/culture communities and avoid burning out our volunteers, we actively recruit new advisors and encourage existing advisors to step down when the time is right for them. We're very pleased to introduce the latest additions to our advisory board:

Photograph of Camille AceyCamille Acey
Camille Acey works in sales and operations at Boundless (formerly OpenGeo), an industry leader in enterprise open source geospatial software solutions. She has also worked with FLOSS Manuals Foundation, an international organization devoted to providing documentation for free software projects, and the free culture non-profit QuestionCopyright.org. She holds a BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. and she has spoken about race and social justice at conferences in the US and Canada. She writes about race, motherhood, and tech on her blog and tweets about much the same on Twitter as @kavbojka.

Photograph of Annalee Flower HorneAnnalee Flower Horne
Annalee Flower Horne is a science fiction writer, Django developer, and open government advocate. She's passionate about diversity in tech, the science fiction and fantasy community, and geek culture as a whole. A former congressional staffer, she takes a particular interest in transparent, accountable, and effective access to elected officials. She works for an open government startup in Washington, DC, blogs irregularly at Geek Feminism, and tweets as @leeflower.

Smiling woman with glasses, by Molly Tomlinson http://photoclave.com
Andromeda Yelton
Andromeda Yelton is a self-employed librarian and software developer who's passionate about promoting coding, collaboration, and diversity in library technology. She has a BS in Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, an MA in Classics from Tufts, and an MLS from Simmons. Before her MLS, she taught Latin to middle school boys; after, she did library outreach, software, and communications at the ebook startup Unglue.it. Her notable honors include winning the 2010 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award; being selected as an ALA Emerging Leader, class of 2011; being a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker; and having been a listener contestant on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. She is a member of the LITA Board of Directors. You can follow her on Twitter at @ThatAndromeda.

Thank to all our Ada Initiative advisors, past and present, for your incredible support of women in open technology and culture! And thank you to the open tech/culture community at large for your hard work and commitment to supporting women in open tech/culture.

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.

Guest post: Conference codes of conduct as seen from your world and mine

This is a guest post by Andromeda Yelton about how conference codes of conduct actually improve the protection of free speech for women and other disadvantaged groups in tech, originally posted on her blog here. Andromeda Yelton is a librarian and freelance software engineer. She teaches librarians to code; speaks and writes about libraries, technology, and gender; and is on the Board of the Library & Information Technology Association.

In discussing ALA’s Statement of Appropriate Conduct with ever-wider audiences, I get the growing feeling that we stand at different starting lines, and it affects our understandings of the words in the statement.

So if you looked at the Statement and your first reaction was “but…free speech?” or “nanny state” or “political correctness”, this is for you. Let me attempt to explain some starting points. (Trigger warning: graphic violence, rape, rampant misogyny.)

Proponents of these codes are not concerned that people might disagree with them (even disagree passionately). We aren’t concerned that people might not be nice. We aren’t wanting to run to some hammer of authority every time someone says a group we’re in might be other than pure unicorns and roses.

Here is the world I live in:

I live in a world where famed game developer and technical writer Kathy Sierra disappeared entirely from the internet for years after she received a series of death threats, including publishing of her home address, social security number, and false allegations that she had abused her children.

I live in a world where Anita Sarkeesian ran a Kickstarter to support a project on sexism in video games, and as a result someone created and distributed a video game consisting solely of clicking on her face until you had beaten it to a bloody pulp.

I live in a world where merely having a female-gendered nickname on IRC (a chat network important in the technology world) makes you 25 times more likely to receive unsolicited malicious private messages, even if you never say a word.

I live in a world where I have zero interest in going to CES because I don’t want to have to deal with the naked booth babes (and am therefore cutting myself off from the biggest trade show relevant to my interests). Where a friend of mine takes for granted there will probably be naked women on conference slides in her field. Where people complaining that a joke about being “raped by dickwolves” in a comic about gaming isn’t funny leads to its creators selling dickwolves t-shirts and large numbers of people to this day defending this as a reasonable position to hold. Where a hackathon sponsored by a major tech news web site gives time on stage to an app intended solely for sharing photos of women’s cleavage, with a nine-year-old-girl in the audience. Where a major tech news discussion site is so prone to misogyny many women never bother to spend time there, at the same time as it is suspected of repeatedly quashing discussion critical of misogyny.

I live in a world where I treat it as great and inexplicable good luck that no one has yet threatened to rape or kill me just because I blog and speak publicly about technology and sexism under an obviously female name, and I have the backup plan in my head of how to moderate comments and log IPs if it’s ever needed, and the list of which friends have my back enough that I’d ask them to wade through that kind of cesspit for me. I live in a world where using my own name on github and IRC was aspecific conscious choice that required actual bravery from me, because I know that I am statistically exposing myself to retribution for doing so.

Let’s say that again: I live in a world where being myself in public, talking about things I care about under my own name in public, is a specific choice which requires both courage and a backup plan.

In this world some people choose not to be themselves in public. They choose not to speak, or to speak only under disguises – ones they can’t wear at conferences, face-to-face.

That is my concern about free speech. That right there.

That is the aim of conference codes of conduct. To clarify the threats — not to eliminate them, because you can’t ever do that, but to state that this is a place where silencing people through graphic threats of sexual violence or open and regular degradation is treated as unacceptable, that if it happens to you there’s a place to go, and to (crucially) say that the bystanders care too. That you’re not in a place where a lot of people are decent but indifferent and someone somewhere might attack you and it’s all on you to cope, but you’re in a place where a lot of people are decent and affirmatively have your back.

And by clarifying the threats, by publicly affirming the decency of the bystanders, we create a world where you don’t have to be quite so brave to speak up. A world where the uncertain, the new, the outsiders have a voice too. A world where maybe the barrier for being a woman in tech — or an outsider coming in — is not the ability to say “fuck you”, but merely the interest in saying something, anything.

If you have been reading the statement of acceptable conduct from the frame of mind that you haven’t encountered problems and things seem fine and the only speech you can imagine it chilling is the edgier end of the perfectly fine, please go back and reread it from my world. It reads differently.