Category Archives: Ada Initiative news

The Ada Initiative is growing! Announcing our search for a new Executive Director

Silver laptop with f-word sticker on it

Are you not afraid to say the f-word, feminism? You may be the next ED of the Ada Initiative!

The Ada Initiative is growing – by hiring a new Executive Director! Keep reading for why we are taking this important step, and how you can apply for this exciting job. (Already know you are interested? Read the job description now!)

Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner founded the Ada Initiative in 2011 to increase the participation and status of women in open technology and culture. After decades of seeing volunteers burning out, they wanted to know: if we applied the feminist principle of paying people for their work to our activism, could we make more progress for women in open tech/culture? The answer: unequivocally yes! Since our founding, hundreds of open tech/culture conferences have adopted and enforced anti-harassment policies, many communities have adopted online codes of conduct, and the percentage of women attending or speaking at conferences has increased dramatically in several communities.

When we reviewed our programs late this year, we realized that there was more demand for our work than we had the ability to supply. Each of our AdaCamp unconferences, held on three continents this year, sold out several weeks earlier than expected. Our Ally Skills Workshops are booked solid into 2015. And we can't launch our standalone Impostor Syndrome Training soon enough for everyone emailing us about it! Fortunately, we also had a banner year for fundraising, raising $215,000 during our yearly fundraising drive and landing our first $100,000 donation.

That's why we’re announcing the search for our most important hire yet: a new Executive Director, who will lead the Ada Initiative as we grow to 5 – 15 staff members over the next few years. Our current Executive Director and co-founder, Valerie Aurora, will shift into a role as Director of Training, working full time on the Ally Skills Workshop and Impostor Syndrome Training programs. Our other two current staff members, co-founder and Deputy Executive Director Mary Gardiner, and Director of Operations Suki McCoy, are staying on as well.

The new Executive Director will lead the overall organization: setting priorities, deciding which programs to run and where, and periodically re-examining our scope and mission. They will also lead our fundraising efforts and manage our staff members and consultants. This is a fulfilling, exciting, and challenging job. Successful candidates will need to be not only organized, financially savvy, and responsible, but also flexible, creative, funny, inspirational, supportive, and comfortable with uncertainty. In addition, the ability to handle conflict well is particularly important, as conflict is an inevitable part of successful activism. The full job description is here.

Please share this job description far and wide! If you know someone that you think would be a good candidate, please forward this job description to them. If that isn't appropriate, you can send your suggestion to jobs@adainitiative.org.

This exciting success and growth over the last few years has been, and will continue to be, made possible by you: our donors. As a service-oriented non-profit, salaries are by far our biggest expense. While corporate sponsors and fees for our training workshops help cover some of our costs, donations from individuals are our largest source of funding. This allows us to stay independent and mission-focused. Thank you so much for your incredibly important support!

­Sumana Harihareswara
Chair of the Ada Initiative Executive Director search committee
on behalf of the Ada Initiative board of directors

Anonymous donor gives $100,000 to support women in Linux

Today we are proud to announce a $100,000 donation to the Ada Initiative to support women in open technology and culture, on top of the $215,000 given by 1100 donors in our 2014 fundraising drive. The donor, a Linux kernel contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, is motivated by the continuing low proportion of women in the Linux kernel development community: currently around 1-5%, as compared to about 20% in closed source software development. Our donor believes that free and open source software like Linux should be more diverse and more open to underrepresented groups than closed source software, not less.

In response to this generous donation, the Ada Initiative pledges to teach 4 Ally Skills Workshops free of charge at Linux-related conferences in 2015, and give 100 hours of free consulting to Linux-related organizations working on making the community more welcoming.

Why focus on women in Linux?

The Linux project, now 23 years old, is one of the world’s best known and longest lived free and open source software projects, and continues to serve as a model to other projects. The culture of Linux kernel development strongly influences open source culture as a whole. People in all open source projects would benefit from a healthy, inclusive, and welcoming Linux kernel community.

Increasing the proportion of women in Linux to at least match that in proprietary software is a difficult task for many reasons, among them a culture of verbal and emotional abuse perpetuated by some leading Linux developers, including the Linux project leader, Linus Torvalds. This abuse affects people of all genders, as shown by Lennart Poettering's description of the harassment and threats he experiences, but it is especially harmful to women given the additional barriers they face such as sexism, stereotype threat, sexual assault, and other gender-related discrimination. Solving the problems that contribute to the low percentage of women in Linux will also make the Linux community better for most people, regardless of their gender.

Many Linux community members already want a more productive and welcoming working environment, and are looking for specific, concrete ways they can help make that a reality. The Ally Skills Workshop teaches these people the skills to respond when they see sexist or abusive behavior, as well as how to prevent it from happening in the first place. In the workshop, people learn specific techniques for how to have more productive and useful discussions, how to implement codes of conduct that support good technical decision-making, how to avoid wasting time and energy on unproductive arguments, and how to improve listening skills and reduce defensiveness. All of these skills help create a more productive, creative, and rewarding working environment for the vast majority of Linux community members.

Progress for women in Linux

The good news for women in Linux is that, after 4 years of advocacy spearheaded by the Ada Initiative, all major Linux conferences now have strong, enforceable anti-harassment policies as of November 2014. These policies have significantly reduced the incidence of many kinds of in-person abuse at Linux conferences, including physical and sexual assault, pornography in presentations, and sexist jokes by keynote speakers. The next step is spreading this kind of cultural change from conferences to online interaction in the Linux community, as the Django, Python, and Rust communities have done so successfully in recent years.

To support the many Linux community members who have been working for a more humane working environment for many years, the Ada Initiative will teach 4 Ally Skills Workshops at Linux-related conferences in 2015, free of charge to attendees or the conference. These workshops will train up to 120 advocates to fight for major, systemic changes in the Linux development culture, using best practices from other open source communities that have successfully increased the participation of women. We will also reserve 100 staff hours to provide free consulting to Linux-related organizations working towards the goal of a less toxic, more productive Linux development culture. If you would like to host one of these workshops or consult with us, email us at contact@adainitiative.org.

Our Ally Skills Workshops are in high demand by software companies, foundations, and conferences, and are often fully booked months in advance. We developed the workshop over 3 years, drawing on many years of experience in open tech/culture communities. We normally charge several thousand dollars to cover the costs of each workshop. This level of sustained advocacy for women in Linux is only possible thanks to this generous donation.

Change is possible

We understand that raising the percentage of women in Linux is a daunting task. The invitation-only Linux Kernel Developer's Summit, the most important Linux developer conference in the world, has a single-digit percentage of women attendees. Influential leaders make and defend disgusting insults as part of the development process, make sexist comments in talks, and argue about the definition of rape on public Linux mailing lists.

At the same time, we offer these signs of hope: as free and open sources software conferences adopted anti-harassment policies, the number of publicly reported sexist incidents dropped, from 4 incidents per year at FLOSS conferences in 2009 and 2010, to 3 per year in 2011 – 2013, and 1 in 2014 (so far). Women and genderqueer people participating in the Outreach Program for Women contributed over 1092 patches to the Linux kernel, and were the top contributors by patch count to the 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, and 3.14 kernels. The Python software community radically increased the percentage of women attending PyCon from less than 10% in 2011 to about 33% in 2014, and the percentage of women speakers went from 1% in 2010 to 33% in 2014. Change is possible; let's get to work!

Thank you again to our anonymous $100,000 donor, and to our major individual donors from previous years: Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson, who donated $21,000 in 2012-2013, and Jesse Ruderman, who donated $5120 in 2011. Because of you, and all of our donors in the last four years, the open source software community is more diverse and welcoming than ever before – and it will keep getting better. Thank you!

You did it! Thank you, and what's next for you and the Ada Initiative!

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo


You did it! Over 1100 donors gave over $206,000 to our 2014 fundraising drive. We reached our original goal of $150,000 with 3 days to go, and then you gave another $56,000!!!

This month alone has made a real difference for women in open technology and culture. Not only will your generous donations help fund our 2014-2015 plans including four AdaCamp unconferences for women, the launch of Impostor Syndrome training as a standalone class, and dozens of Ally Skills Workshops, as a direct result of your generous gifts, we are:

Good fundraising is also good activism, and this drive was no exception! Functional programmers banded together not only to raise money but to call on the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) to better publicize their anti-harassment policies. Liz Henry called on hackerspaces to list their anti-harassment policies on the hackerspaces wiki, or adopt a policy if they didn't have one. Several companies and organizations contacted the Ada Initiative to book Ally Skills Workshops or to ask for free consulting on implementing anti-harassment policies.

A woman wearing a fedora with a "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker on it

Which f-word is that?

Good fundraising is also FUN! As a result of this fundraiser, librarians practically have a costume ball going on at an upcoming conference, and they have a new cat-themed skin for open source library catalogue system Koha. Functional programmers threatened to post a video of themselves singing filk songs. Feminists everywhere took selfies while wearing silly hats. As supporter Ryan Kennedy put it on Twitter, "thanks to @adainitiative for working with me to put together a fundraising campaign for them. A+…would fundraise again."

"F-word: Feminism" sticker available for one more week

Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD adainitiative.org"

Over 1000 donors have proved that they aren't afraid to say the F-word: FEMINISM! As a thank you, we're making our "Not afraid to say the F-word" stickers available to donors who donate before October 15th, 2014. "Not afraid to say the F-word" t-shirts won't be available till later in the year, but stay in touch to get the first announcement when they are ready!

Donate now

Staying involved

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

Donating is just one way to support women in open technology and culture. Check out our list of ways people can help in their everyday lives. Corporations interested in the open technology and culture space can get involved in several ways as well. Consider booking an Ally Skills Workshop at your workplace or conference. If you are a feminist woman in open tech/culture, you can apply to attend our 2015 AdaCamps when we announce registration opening. And you can keep up to date with the Ada Initiative's work, AdaCamp and other event announcements, scholarships, calls to action, and similar ways to be part of the movement for change by keeping in touch with us.

Thanks and appreciation

An extraordinary coalition of individuals, communities, and corporations helped make our next year of work possible. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who donated their time, social capital, or money.

We are very happy that fundraising was such a positive experience for so many of our supporters. It was an uplifting, encouraging experience for us as well, thanks in large part to the many advisors and support staff who were part of making our next year's work possible.

Guido van Rossum wearing "Python is for girls" shirt

Guido van Rossum wearing "Python is for girls" shirt

Thank you to our interviewees and guest writers this month, and your astounding (even — or especially — to us) accounts of how the Ada Initiative has affected your life and work: Ellen Spertus, N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Guido van Rossum, Rachel Chalmers, Kronda Adair, Stephanie Zvan, Amelia Greenhall, PZ Myers, Sue Gardner, Netha Hussain and Sumana Harihareswara.

An additional thank you to N. K. Jemisin for donating copies of her novel The Killing Moon and Mary Robinette Kowal for donating copies of her novel Valour and Vanity as donor thank you gifts. Don't forget: a set of hardcover copies Mary's series The Glamourist Histories together with a signed manuscript of the upcoming fifth book Of Noble Family, is being auctioned by Con or Bust right now to raise money for fans of color to attend SFF conventions!

Thank you community fundraisers!

Two smiling women, one wearing a silly tiara

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Each of these campaigns has, as well as supporting the Ada Initiative's important work, made critical and concrete steps to improve their community for women.

If we left you or your community out of this list, thank you and we're sorry!! This fundraiser was so much bigger than we expected and we're sure we lost track of something. Please contact us immediately and we'd be thrilled to add you to this list.

And of course, we thank all of our more than 1100 donors, including the more than 700 who gave us permission to share their names:

@bohyunkim
@cynpy
@cynpy
@elplatt
@gedankenstuecke
@gergdotca
@ianweller
@jstash
@kjrtech
@ReBeccaOrg
@tedder42
@thebackpack08
@TheRealSpaf
@tikkachurin
@urcadox
@vibragiel
@wdonohue
@wickman
A. Jesse Jiryu Davis
Aaron Levin / Weird Canada
Aaron M
Aaron Miller
Adam C. Foltzer
Adam Glasgall
Adam Lee
Adrienne Roehrich
Alan McConchie
Alejandro Cabrera
AlephCloud Systems
Aliandria
Alice Boxhall
Alicia Gibb
Alina Banerjee
Alison Cichowlas
Alison Hitchens
Allison Granted
allison morris
Allyson J. Bennett
Amandine
Amy F. Bocko
Amy Hendrix
Amy Kautzman
Anaerobeth
Anders Pearson
André Arko
Andre M. Bach
Andrea
Andrea Horbinski
Andrea Snyder
Andreas Dilger
Andrew Berger
Andrew Ducker
Andrew Garrett
Andrew Janke
Andrew Sutherland
Andromeda Yelton
Andy Adams-Moran
Andy Isaacson
Andy Shuping
Anil Madhavapeddy
Anjanette Young
Ankita
Ann Marie The Nurse
Annalee Flower Horne
Anne Jefferson
Annmargar
anon
Anonymous
Anthony Karosas
Antonio D'souza
arduinogirl
Ari
Ari
Ari Blenkhorn
Aria Stewart
Ariaflame
Art Gillespie
Ayla Stein
B. Albritton
Barnaby Walters
bcl
Beau Gunderson
Ben Blum
Ben Chapman
Ben Finney
Ben Hughes
Ben Hughes
Benjamin B
Benjamin Treynor Sloss
Bernard Yu
Bess Sadler
Beth Warner
Bethany Lister
Bill Dueber
Bill Landis
Billie
BKM
Blaine Cook
Bo Brinkman
Bobbi Fox
Brad F
Brenda Moon
Brendan Long
Brent Yorgey
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Brian Nisbet
Britta Gustafson
Bruce Cran
Bruce Cran
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Burtchen
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Carl
Carlo Angiuli
Carol Willing
Casey G.
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Charles Hawkins
Charles Hooper
Charles Miller
Chelsea D
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chuy
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CKo
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Colleen
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Matt (2)
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MATTY FO
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Show the world you're not afraid to say the F-word: FEMINISM! New sticker for 2014 fundraising drive

Four women standing at a conference and smiling, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Could these AdaCampers be FEMINISTS?

Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD adainitiative.org"

Donate Now

"Are you sure you want to use the F-word?" a worried friend asked us. The word she meant was "feminist" – which we had just plastered all over the website for AdaCamp, the Ada Initiative's conference for women in open technology and culture. After all, she pointed out, when was the last time a large corporation donated $50,000 to a non-profit that called itself feminist?

That's one reason why most of the Ada Initiative's funding comes from people like you – people who aren't afraid to say the f-word! Now you can get the Ada Initiative's brand new "F-word" sticker, created by designer and feminist activist Amelia Greenhall.

We're sending 3 copies of the F-word sticker (plus a few more Ada Initiative stickers) to everyone who donates $128 or more to support women in open technology and culture before October 8, 2014, during our 2014 fundraising drive.

The sticker is 2.25 inches wide by 1.5 inches tall (5.7 cm x 3.8cm) and die-cut. Now you can proudly identify as a feminist every time you use your laptop, ride your bike, or walk with a cane – the possibilities are endless!

fword_colorful_laptop
fword_cane
fword_laptop_small
fword_pink_bicycle

Donate Now

About the Ada Initiative

Two women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Your donation goes to the Ada Initiative, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity dedicated to supporting women around the world in open source software, Wikipedia, fan/remix culture, and similar areas. We lead the movement to adopt anti-harassment policies at conferences and conventions, run AdaCamp unconferences for women in open tech/culture around the world, teach men how to support women in their communities, and help women overcome Impostor Syndrome.

Show the world you aren't afraid to use the f-word, and support women in open technology and culture everywhere! Donate today!

Donate Now

FAQ

Why $128? What is with your weird donation amounts?

Our donation amounts are powers of two: $128 = 2^7 or 2*2*2*2*2*2*2. Powers of two are quite common when working with computers, and it makes our donation amounts a little more interesting!

Did you know Béyoncé was going to make feminism cool again when you designed this sticker?

We swear, the new stickers were already printed and sitting in a box in Valerie's apartment when we saw the photos from Béyoncé's VMA show on Twitter. We are incredibly happy that Béyoncé is using her star power to make identifying as a feminist more popular.

What is open technology and culture?

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors

AdaCamp attendees
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Open technology and culture is a term we made up to include open source software, Wikipedia, fan fiction, and similar areas. It's anything where people collaborate on and share their work over the Internet and let other people reuse and share the result. For example, anyone can read Wikipedia, or edit Wikipedia, or reuse things from Wikipedia (as long as they credit the creators properly).

Why do we need more women in open technology and culture?

In many (but not all cases), open tech/culture communities are overwhelmingly male (and overwhelmingly white). Wikipedia is averaging around 10-15% women editors, and open source software is only about 2% women according to the most recent study. At the same time, Wikipedia and open source software are changing the world we live in – most of Google, Facebook, and Twitter's servers are based on open source software, as are Android phones and the Firefox web browser. We believe that women have to be involved in the creation, design, and use of the Internet or it won't serve women needs and desires.

Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD adainitiative.org"

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Welcome NetApp and Rackspace as our newest AdaCamp sponsors

Two women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

The Ada Initiative is pleased to welcome NetApp and Rackspace as the newest Bronze sponsors of AdaCamp, our conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture. NetApp and Rackspace join the many sponsors of AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore, our first AdaCamps in Europe and Asia!

NetAppFounded in 1992, NetApp creates innovative storage and data management solutions that deliver outstanding cost efficiency and accelerate business breakthroughs. NetApp's commitment to living their core values and consistently being recognized as a great place to work are fundamental to their long-term growth and success, as well as the success of their customers. NetApp is hiring at offices around the world.

Rackspace logo_No 1 Mgd_no tag_colorRackspace is the global leader in hybrid cloud and founder of OpenStack, the open-source operating system for the cloud. Founded in 1998, Rackspace employs over 5,000 people worldwide and is based in San Antonio, Texas. Rackspace is hiring at offices around the world.

About AdaCamp

AdaCampAdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia-related projects, open data, open geo, library technology, fan fiction, remix culture, and more. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, share skills, discuss problems with open tech/culture communities that affect women, and find ways to address them.

In 2014, the Ada Initiative will hold three AdaCamps located in technology hubs on three continents: Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India. AdaCamp Portland occurred in June and was a huge success. AdaCamp Berlin applications are already closed and is slated for October 11-12. Applications are now open for AdaCamp Bangalore, which is scheduled for November 22-23.

Sponsorship

Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture on three continents. Contact us at sponsors@adainitiative.org for more information about becoming a sponsor.


Thank you to the AdaCamp 2014 platinum sponsors Google and Puppet Labs, gold sponsors Automattic, Mozilla and Red Hat, and silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.

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.