Category Archives: Ada Initiative projects

AdaCamp Berlin applications closing early on 15th August

New application deadline for AdaCamp Berlin: 15th August

AdaCamp Portland models 2This Friday (15th August) is the final deadline to apply to attend AdaCamp Berlin. We had intended to keep applications open until 1st September, but have gotten so many excellent applications that there's already a waitlist! AdaCamp Berlin is a 50 person unconference in Berlin, Germany on 11-12th October, 2014.

If you would still like to attend AdaCamp this year and can make it to Bangalore, applications for that event are still open. AdaCamp Bangalore is occurring on 22-23 November and women from any region may apply.

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

We encourage applications from people who consider themselves "non-technical" or not "technical enough." We found that many people assume that AdaCamp is only for coders or computer experts, which is definitely not the case! AdaCampers include journalists, writers, fans of all sorts, knitters, researchers & academics, community managers, and many others. AdaCamp is more interesting and satisfying when we have attendees from a wide range of open technology and culture fields.

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp 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 is holding three AdaCamps located in technology hubs on three continents: Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India.

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, Red Hat, and Mozilla, and silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.

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

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of LinuxCon Chicago August 21

Two women smiling wearing green badge lanyards

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Want to do your part in making the Linux community more welcoming to women and people of all sorts? Planning to attend this year's LinuxCon NA in Chicago? Then you should sign up for the free Ada Initiative's Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon, from 2:30pm to 5:30pm on Thursday, August 21st. Attendance is free to LinuxCon attendees (you must be registered for LinuxCon to attend).

The Ally Skills Workshop (formerly called the Allies Workshop) teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplace and communities, in an engaging, discussion-oriented format. After a brief introduction on basic principles of responding to sexism (choose your battles, practice simple responses, you don't have to be funny, etc.), we discuss real-world scenarios and figure out ways to respond to them. Here's one review:

Woman explaining while a man listens

Workshop discussion

"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. I'd love to have more honest and frank conversation along that line with [my colleagues]." – Joseph Bironas

People love the practical focus and walk away with skills they can use right away:

"I've already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued." – Anonymous participant

"I liked how it focused on concrete actions and behaviors we could use immediately, not theory." – Ashley Penney

And other attendees learned new ways to think about and respond to sexism in general:

Smiling woman

Workshop leader Valerie Aurora

"The most useful thing I got out of the class was the underlying notion of asserting and defending community values when responding to sexism, rather than addressing the responsible individual directly." – Anonymous participant

While the workshop is aimed at teaching ally skills to men, it works best with at least 20% women in attendance, so we welcome people of all genders at the workshop!

Sounds like something you'd like to learn? Sign up for the Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon now. If you can't attend LinuxCon, contact us at contact@adainitiative.org to find out how you can run the workshop at your workplace.

LinuxCon features several other events to support women and newcomers in Linux, including the First Time Attendees' Reception and the Women in OSS luncheon. The Ada Initiaive's Executive Director will be attending as many of these events as possible as well as teaching the Ally Skills Workshop.

Looking forward to seeing you at LinuxCon and the Ally Skills Workshop!

Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

AdaCamp Portland report-out: "I've never been to a better conference"

"What I love about AdaCamp is how consistently wonderful the event is – how you can go from one thought-provoking session to another, how you can meet a fascinating person doing great work and then turn around and meet someone who also blows you away." — Anonymous AdaCamper

Excited about AdaCamp and want to attend the next one? Check out our main AdaCamp page to find when applications open for the next AdaCamp.

AdaCamp is an unconference for women in open technology and culture and the people who support them. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, discuss issues women have in common across open technology and culture fields, and find ways to address them. AdaCamp is organized by the Ada Initiative, a non-profit devoted to increasing the participation and status of women in open technology and culture, which includes open source software, Wikipedia and related projects, fan fiction, and more.

75 people who identified as women or female attended the main track of AdaCamp Portland, held on June 21-22, 2013, with an additional 24 attending an Ally Skills track on June 23rd open to participants of any gender.

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors who made AdaCamp Portland 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.

Impact of AdaCamp Portland

AdaCamp logo

"It was really transformative for me to be around so many women in such a safe space. I don't know that I've ever felt that supported or cared for before!" — Anonymous AdaCamper

Our post-event survey (35% response rate) indicated that all (100%) respondents felt that AdaCamp had improved their professional networks and nearly as many (88%) felt more part of a community of women in open technology and culture. 73% percent of respondents agreed that AdaCamp increased their awareness of issues facing women in open technology and culture and 77% agreed that they are more committed to participating in open technology and culture now, two of the primary goals of AdaCamp.

AdaCampers enjoyed the diversity of subject matter throughout the conference, the respect that was given each topic and the speakers, the opportunity available for anyone that wanted to participate and how involved on the whole AdaCampers were.

"The discussion of feminist quantified self was probably the best session…but, honestly, I enjoyed everything. I've never been to a better conference/event." — Coral Sheldon-Hess

About the attendees

75 people attended the main track for people who identified as women, with a further 24 attending the Ally Skills track for people of any gender. The attendees came from four countries. The majority of our attendees were from the United States, with the rest from Australia, Canada and India.

We worked hard to make AdaCamp Portland diverse in many different ways. Some statistics from our post-conference survey (35% response rate):

  • 23% listed their race or ethnicity as other than white or Caucasian (30% in the AdaCamp San Francisco survey and 25% in the AdaCamp DC survey)
  • 11% were born outside the United States (18% AdaCamp San Francisco, 28% AdaCamp DC)
  • 42% were not employed as programmers or IT specialists (41% AdaCamp San Francisco, 49% AdaCamp DC)
  • 15% were librarians

Travel scholarships

To make AdaCamp more accessible to students, non-profit employees and others living outside of the Bay Area, and to increase the diversity of our attendees, we offered 5 travel scholarships to AdaCamp Portland. One international grant was awarded to an AdaCamper from Australia, and our four North American travel grants were awarded to three AdaCampers from the United States and one from Canada.

What we did

Main track

AdaCamp Portland's main track was primarily structured as an unconference, with attendee-organized and facilitated sessions around issues facing women in open technology and culture. Based on feedback from the previous three AdaCamps, we added some more structure to the beginning and end of the schedule.

For most attendees, the first session of AdaCamp's main track was an Imposter Syndrome workshop. Women's socialization is often less confident and competitive than men's, and women are therefore especially vulnerable to Impostor Syndrome — the belief that one's work is inferior and one's achievements and recognition are fraudulent — in open technology and culture endeavors where public scrutiny of their work is routine. As at AdaCamp San Francisco, the opening session was a large-group Imposter Syndrome workshop facilitated by Ada Initiative founder Mary Gardiner. The Imposter Syndrome workshop was followed by introductory sessions on areas of open technology and culture that might be new to participants; including everything from linux kernel development and python to fundraising for feminist projects and trans misogyny in feminist spaces.

Two sessions in the afternoon were the first free-form sessions the first focusing on what problems and barriers face women in open source technology and culture and the discussing present existing solutions. On Sunday the morning sessions were also free-form with a focus on generating new and creative ways to address the problems and barriers facing women in open source technology and culture.

"I heard from women who were just entering the industry, as well as veterans handling tricky social and political problems. Just because you go into an individual contributor career track doesn't mean you avoid political problems! It was nice to hear from women who had experienced similar situations to me, and to be able to offer advice on tactics and processes to try to resolve conflict and get what they wanted out of their work." — Selena Deckelmann

On Sunday afternoon, attendee-organized sessions moved towards skill-sharing and creation, with a multitude of workshops, make-a-thons, edit-a-thons, hack-a-thons, and tutorials that ranged from assertiveness and basic self-defense to open source database options and how to make and launch phone apps.

AdaCampers reported learning a variety of new skills including but not limited to wikipedia editing, best practices in conducting edit-a-thons, zine making, responding to micro-aggressions, dealing with code of conduct violations, licensing, public speaking, and what one AdaCamper described as "increased confidence through sense of belonging and tactics for navigating tech communities."

Lightning talks were held on both days of the main track. Any AdaCamper that wanted to share their knowledge, experience or passion – on a topic either in open technology and culture or not – was given the stage for 90 seconds. AdaCampers talked about subjects from bird watching to how to get paid what you're worth to starting a PyLadies group in your area.

Ally Skills track

An evening Ally Skills workshop for people of any gender wishing to support women in open technology and culture was held on June 23. The Ally Skills track opened with Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora facilitating the Ada Initiative Ally Skills workshop, which focuses on practical, everyday ways allies can support women in their community.

"It gave me some starts towards being comfortable acting in situations of casual sexism—and that would extend to other -isms. I'd like to do it again at some point, to gain even more confidence." — Kamal Marhubi

In our retrospective survey (25% response rate), 17% of participants indicated that they were not confident in welcoming women to their community, could not respond to actions unwelcoming toward women in their community and did not know how to create a community that is inclusive of women. After the Ally Skills workshop, 100% of respondents indicated that they now felt that they could do these things. All survey respondents said that the workshop taught them responses to avoid when responding to unwelcoming actions in my community. 67% percent of survey respondents said that the workshop made them realize that they have a position of power to influence change and gave them actionable examples of things they could do to make my community more welcoming to women. 100% respondents would recommend the workshop to otheres.

Social events

Grey shirt with purple text reading "I pull the strings around here. Puppet Labs"

Puppet Labs shirts from AdaCamp reception

On the evening of Friday June 20, Puppet Labs hosted a reception for main track attendees at their Portland office. Thank you to Puppet Labs for hosting a welcoming and well-thought out event!

Following the tradition established at AdaCamp DC and San Francisco, instead of a large social event on Saturday night, attendees had dinner in small groups at restaurants around Portland. Attendees were invited to host dinners on behalf of their employers. Thank you to Mozilla, New Relic, Etsy, Intel, Heroku and Code for America and their representatives, for hosting dinners.

Reports from AdaCampers

Several AdaCampers wrote publicly about their experiences at the event:

"This was my fourth AdaCamp and as usual, I came away full of ideas, with new friends and invigorated from all the wonderful conversations." —Selena Deckelmann

"I feel like I walked away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what is going on with feminism beyond my special little bubble. I met a ton of amazing, talented, and passionate women looking to change the world. I even got some Wikipedia editing done and learned more about ways to accomplish my goals. It made me want to take the time to re-evaluate my goals and what I want to work towards in the future." —Sara Marks

"It was a good session! Several of us had lunch together and talked more about Rosie’s passion for translating articles from one language into another! She spoke very movingly about the politics of translation, especially as it is relevant to women’s history. If we don’t put this information online, it can more or less disappear from public awareness." —Liz Henry

"Most importantly, AdaCamp was a great place to meet like-minded people. This is really important for women in a male-dominated field, where getting professional and emotional support can be a challenge. There were lots of opportunities to talk to the other participants, and the organizers are providing several means for us to continue communicating with each other after AdaCamp. I think this is the most valuable thing I will get out of this event: a network of people who can help me as I continue to learn and grow as a developer and a feminist." —Morgan Kay

It was an incredible experience: I met fascinating and inspiring people, learned new [technical] skills, got some ideas for projects to work on, and received a ton of career affirmation. There were a lot of web developers and other solidly-tech people there, but we also had a handful of journalism-minded folks, quite a few librarians, Wikipedia editors and more." —Rachel Alexander

"I don’t know how to explain what an empowering, fun experience AdaCamp and Open Source Bridge have been. I wish the words would come." —Coral Sheldon-Hess

"AdaCamp is invite-only, but instead of being elitist and Bilderberg-esque, it made for the most actively and intentionally inclusive event I’ve ever attended. [...] AdaCamp was such a great experience and I’m encouraging all my friends to try and attend future events." —Helen Halbert

"I think the most rewarding thing about these conferences, for me, is some mix of the I've-been-there-too commiserating and solution-sketching, making people laugh, laughing at new inside jokes, literally seeing things in a new light, deepening my relationships with people important to me, and passing on the stuff I've learned." —Sumana Harihareswara

"I discovered that User: Rosiestep and I share the same passion in writing biographies of women on Wikipedia, and we decided to do collaborative editing and run multi-city edit-a-thons in future." —Netha Hussain

Conference resources

Each AdaCamp we strive to improve the event. After each AdaCamp, we publish any resources we developed and license them CC BY-SA for use by the community.

Since the conclusion of AdaCamp Portland, we have been developing an AdaCamp toolkit — a set of guidelines and documents that we use to plan AdaCamp in its generic form, and, we hope, a useful tool for anyone planning an unconference. We expect to release the toolkit CC BY-SA this year.

Future AdaCamps

We're thrilled with the increasing success of AdaCamp at bringing women together and developing the current and next generation of women leaders in open technology and culture. AdaCamp is one of the key events of the Ada Initiative, with huge impact on its attendees and the communities they are involved in. Our 2014 AdaCamps in Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany and Bangalore, India; are part of our strategy to reach a wider range of women by holding more frequent but smaller AdaCamps around the world. We are developing plans for AdaCamps in 2015 and 2016 now; if you'd like to be notified of the next AdaCamp, sign up to our announcement mailing list or follow us on Twitter.

Thank you to all of the AdaCamp Portland attendees and AdaCamp Portland sponsors for giving us the support we needed to run this event and make it what it is. You are what makes AdaCamp a success!

Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture. 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, Red Hat, and Mozilla, and silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.

Handling harassment incidents swiftly and safely

As anti-harassment policies become more widespread at open technology and culture events, different ways of handling harassment incidents are emerging. We advocate a swift process in which final decisions are made by a small group of empowered decision makers, whose focus is on the safety of the people attending the event.

Open technology and culture communities, which often make decisions in a very public way, can be tempted to also have a very public and very legalistic harassment handling process, a judicial model, but we advocate against this. It prioritises other values, such as transparency and due process, over that of safety. Alternatively, because many members of such communities find ostracism very hurtful and frightening, sometimes they develop a caretaker model, where they give harassers lots of second chances and lots of social coaching, and focus on the potential for a harasser to redeem themselves and re-join the community.

But neither of these models prioritise safety from harassment.

Consider an alternative model: harassment in the workplace. In a well-organised workplace that ensured your freedom from harassment — a situation which we know is also all too rare, but which we can aspire to, especially since our events are workplaces for many of us — an empowered decision maker such as your manager or an HR representative would make a decision based on your report that harassment had occurred and other relevant information as judged by them, and act as required order to keep your workplace safe for you.

A well-organised workplace would not appoint itself your harasser’s anti-harassment coach, have harassment reports heard by a jury of your peers, publish the details of your report widely, have an appeals process several levels deep, or offer fired staff members the opportunity to have their firing reviewed by management after some time has passed.

Like in a well-organised workplace, we advocate a management model of handling harassment complaints to make events safer: reasonably quick and final decisions made by a small group of empowered decision makers, together with communication not aimed at transparency for its own sake, but at giving people the information they need to keep themselves safe.

The management model of harassment handling is that:

  1. you have a public harassment policy that clearly states that harassment is unacceptable, and gives examples of unacceptable behaviour
  2. you have a clear reporting avenue publicised with the policy
  3. you have an empowered decision maker, or a small group of decision makers, who will act on reports
  4. reports of harassment are conveyed to those decision makers when reported
  5. they consider those reports, gather any additional information they need to make a decision — which could include conduct in other venues and other information that a very legalistic model might not allow — and they decide what action would make the event safer
  6. they communicate with people who need to know the outcome (eg, with the harasser if they need to change their behaviour, avoid any people or places, or leave the event; volunteers or security if they need to enforce any boundaries)
  7. they provide enough information to the victim of the harassment, and when needed to other attendees, to let them make well-informed decisions about their own safety

Further reading

Applications open for AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore

Two women smiling wearing green badge lanyards

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia and other wiki-related projects, open knowledge and education, open government and open data, open hardware and appropriate technology, library technology, creative fan culture, remix culture, translation/localization/internationalization, 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. Learn more about previous AdaCamps here.

AdaCamp Berlin will be in Berlin, Germany at the offices of Wikimedia Deutschland on Saturday October 11 and Sunday October 12, 2014.

Apply to AdaCamp Berlin here

AdaCamp Bangalore will be in Bangalore, India at the offices of Red Hat on Saturday November 22 and Sunday November 23, 2014.

Apply to AdaCamp Bangalore here

Limited travel scholarships will be awarded to attendees of both conferences.

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp

AdaCamp is the world's only event focusing on women in open technology and culture, and is a project of the Ada Initiative, a non-profit supporting women in open technology and culture. Both are named after Countess Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. Attendance at AdaCamp is by invitation, with applications open to the public. Attendees will be selected based on experience in open tech/culture, experience or knowledge of feminism and advocacy, ability to collaborate with others, and any rare or notable experience or background that would add to AdaCamp.

Sponsorships

A limited number of conference sponsorships are available. Benefits include making a public statement of your company's values, recruiting opportunities, and reserved attendance slots for qualified employees, depending on level. Contact sponsors@adainitiative.org for more information.

Contact

If you have any questions, please email us at adacamp@adainitiative.org.


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

Guest post: Deciding if or when a harasser may return to an event

This is a series of excerpts from a post by writer and speaker Stephanie Zvan, advising conference organizers on how to respond when a person who harassed people at their event wants to return to the event. The post was prompted by Jim Frenkel's attendance at the 2014 Wiscon feminist science fiction convention, after reports of harassment by Frenkel at the 2013 Wiscon and other events. These posts are excerpts from a post that originally appeared on "Almost Diamonds" at Free Thought Blogs. You can read part 1 of this post here.

Now, once you’ve decided to treat a harassment claim like any other health and safety issue, your main decision still remains. Do you or don’t you allow the harasser to remain at or return to your event? There are two main factors in deciding.

  1. Do you reasonably think the harasser will continue to violate your code of conduct?
  2. Will your guests reasonably feel safe if the harassers remains or returns?

The trick, of course, is defining “reasonably”. We’d all like to think we’re more reasonable than we are. Still, it’s possible to work through these issues.

Judging whether a harasser will stop violating your code of conduct

What kinds of things make it reasonable to think a harasser will stop? Here are a few:

  • They were unaware that their behavior was a violation of your code of conduct. This could be true if your code of conduct is not well publicized or the language is vague or ambiguous. Of course, if this is the case, the behavior in question would also have to be reasonably acceptable outside of your event. For example, groping someone, trapping them, and screaming in their face are all broadly condemned even outside of areas with codes of conduct. No one should be reasonably unaware that these behaviors are unacceptable. If the behavior in question is the sort of thing that would be hidden from bosses, organizers, or the respected voices of the community, a harasser doesn’t have a reasonable case that they “just didn’t know”.
  • They express understanding of their behavior and remorse about it. In the case of honest miscommunication that results in harm to one of the parties, the person who caused the harm should also be upset. They should accept that what they did caused harm, and they should want to prevent causing more harm by repeating the behavior in the future. If they aren’t remorseful, then they consider their original behavior to be justified and are more likely to repeat it.
  • They understand and accept the consequences that apply to their behavior. This is sometimes easier to see in the negative than the positive. Someone who argues that they shouldn’t receive consequences or, worse, that you “cannot” apply consequences to them feels entitled to your spaces and your events. They don’t see that their access is legitimately tied to and dependent on their good behavior. This can be a particular problem when a harasser is friends with decision-makers. Communicating to that friend that what is happening needs to be taken seriously is far more difficult in that situation than it is when it’s not mixed with cozy interpersonal relationships.
  • They don’t have a pattern of unacceptable behavior. One event may be a fluke. More than one event, even if every one of them is a “miscommunication”, points to an underlying problem. In order to reasonably believe that a harasser’s behavior will change in these circumstances, you’ll need to see some kind of evidence that the underlying problem has been addressed.

Notice that I suggested you should apply a different standard to guests at your events than you apply to yourself as an organizer (feeling vs. thinking). There are two reasons for that. The first is that, as an organizer, you’re privy to more information about a harassment complaint than your guests are. The second is that your guests have signed up for a different kind of experience than you have.

When you agree to organize an event, you take on extra responsibilities that your guests don’t have. They’re at your event to have a good time, socialize, and (depending on the nature of your event) learn something. You’re there to facilitate that. This means you take on a responsibility to consider their experience as it is, not as you think it should be. In other words, you may feel that your guests or potential guests are being irrational about a situation, but that won’t stop them from deciding they don’t want to show up. People get to stay home if they want to. It’s up to you to make them want to attend instead.

Judging whether other attendees will feel safe with the harasser attending your event

What kinds of things make it reasonable for guests to feel safe with a harasser attending your event?

  • They trust you to handle violations of the code of conduct promptly and fairly. People are more comfortable taking risks when they have backup. Attending an event with a harasser is a risk. If you ask them to take that risk for you, you have to show them that you’ve earned that trust.
  • They can avoid the harasser at little cost to them. This gives people control of their interactions with the harasser. If you put the harasser in a position of authority or require people to interact with them in order to access a service at your event, they won’t feel they can maintain their safety without unreasonable costs. Volunteer-run events sometimes argue that they need the volunteer, but I’ve yet to see one account for the volunteers they’ll lose by handing power (yes, volunteer positions involve some degree of power) to a harasser.
  • Their prior interactions with the harasser are not painful to recall. To be blunt, you may well have to choose between having a harasser attend your event and having the person or people they harassed attend. Dealing with memories spurred by seeing one’s harasser, or someone whose harassing behavior you witnessed, does not make for a pleasant event experience. If people don’t want to cope with that, you can’t require them to. Attempting to shame them for it won’t work and will only lead to the impression that you care more about the prestige or financial success of your event than the people who make it what it is.
  • They know what to expect. Surprising your guests with the attendance of someone they believe to be a harasser is not a good idea. Yes, your hands are tied with regard to how much information you can safely share about a harassment investigation and follow-up without incurring legal liability. Nonetheless, issues that get broad attention, as so many do right now as we figure out as communities how they should be handled, will require basic communication now or more communication in more detail later. If you have the staff to handle a storm of bad PR, you should have the staff to get out ahead of the problem.

That isn’t a long list of requirements for successfully reincorporating a harasser into a space they’ve abused. As much as some people like to suggest that nothing a harasser can do to be allowed back, these are not impossible hurdles. That doesn’t mean they’re not tricky to navigate in practice, but the principles that make people likely to be safe in reality and make them subjectively feel safe are not rocket science. They don’t require divination. They don’t require reading people’s minds or bowing to unreasonable demands.

And if you’re an organization facing these problems and feeling like you’re swimming in treacherous waters, there are people who want to help. We’ve been working on this issue, in our organizations or with multiple organizations on a consulting basis. We are invested in people starting to get things right. We want the good examples for everyone to follow. We want good decisions that, while they aren’t going to be comfortable, are going to make things better for all the people who aren’t part of the problem.

Let us help you get things right, because ultimately, it’s going to be you who bears the blame and criticism if and when you get it wrong.

You can continue reading the original post here.

Guest post: Harassment isn't an interpersonal issue, it's a health and safety issue

This is a series of excerpts from a post by writer and speaker Stephanie Zvan, advising conference organizers on how to respond when a person who harassed people at their event wants to return to the event. The post was prompted by Jim Frenkel's attendance at the 2014 Wiscon feminist science fiction convention, after reports of harassment by Frenkel at the 2013 Wiscon and other events. These posts are excerpts from a post that originally appeared on "Almost Diamonds" at Free Thought Blogs.

So how should event organizers deal with people who have been reasonably found to have harassed one of their attendees (hereafter referred to as “the harasser” out of convenience rather than any essentialism)?

Harassment isn't an interpersonal issue

We are accustomed and encouraged to use frames of reference in thinking about harassment that aren’t helpful, so let’s clear a couple of those up right off the bat. Harassment is not an “interpersonal issue”. Having your boundaries violated is not something a person does. It is something that is done to them. When someone says how they want to be treated (either verbally or through body language) and this is ignored, this is a unilateral action on the part of the person who chose to ignore their boundaries. When things outside the bounds of the broadest social norms or outside of a local code of conduct are done to people without them being consulted, this is a unilateral action on the part of the person who took action without consulting the target of that action.

Treating harassment as a back-and-forth between two people simply because it requires that two people be present elides the one-sided nature of these interactions. It elides the responsibility of one person who acts on another to be aware of how that action will impact the person it targets.

Worse, it places some of that responsibility on the person acted upon, the person whose boundaries—stated or reasonably assumed—were violated. It says that either the target of the harassing behavior had an obligation to stop the behavior themselves or that it is reasonable for another person to assume they consented to whatever happened. When we’re talking about code of conduct violations, this means that treating harassment as an interpersonal issue is telling people that it would be reasonable to assume they consented to being the target of racist or sexist remarks, consented to being followed or photographed, consented to being touched—simply by attending your event.

If you’re going to treat these things as reasonable assumptions when it comes time to evaluate a complaint, they shouldn’t be listed as code of conduct violations in the first place. If your intent is to create a space where anything should be expected to happen, a code of conduct is false advertising. Don’t treat someone who relies on your code of conduct as though they’ve done something wrong.

A harassment investigation is not a criminal case

Additionally, a harassment investigation is not a criminal case. You, as event organizers, are not the government of a country, a state, or even a city. When you investigate an allegation of harassment, you are not interfering with anyone’s liberties or rights under the constitution. You are determining who will and who will not attend your event.

This is true however your investigation and decision comes out. If you bend over backward to give the accused the benefit of the doubt and end up allowing a harasser to continue to attend your event, you will lose attendees who feel that harasser has now been given official permission to continue. These people are innocent of violating your rules, but that doesn’t keep them from being excluded by your decision. This is true every bit as much as if you exclude someone who is innocent of harassment on the basis of an unfounded accusation.

So, all that said, how do you go about determining when a harasser can rejoin your community?

Harassment is a health and safety issue, treat it like one

First off, stop asking that particular question. We don’t spend time agonizing over when “that person who set off the fire alarms and caused an evacuation” or “that person who held someone’s head under water in the pool” gets to come back. This is not about the harasser and their needs. Harassment is a health and safety issue, and you’ll get a whole lot further if you treat it like one. [...]

I’m sure there are readers at this point who still don’t understand why harassment short of assault would be considered a health and safety issue if no one was physically injured, so I’ll break it down briefly. The mild forms of harassment are still stressors. They still make their targets outsiders, less than human beings with full agency in the spaces in which the harassment occurs. They require that not just targets, but the entire classes of people who tend to be targeted, make decisions bout how to navigate these spaces in ways that allow them to remain safer.

Even before we get to behaviors that (nearly) everyone agrees constitute sexual violence, even before we talk about the fact that the presence of harassment reasonably makes people question whether they’ll be subject to to violence, sexual harassment not only adds to people’s stress–a health issue in and of itself–but it requires people to spend their limited time and energy to protect themselves. We would not tolerate events held in places that required participants to track down safe water for themselves, whether or not the water at a venue was ultimately safe to drink. We don’t allow fake weapons for cosplay to be carried in a way that may threaten people. We don’t have any better reason than cultural inertia to make a special allowance for sexual or gender-based behavior that is stressful and threatening. That just isn’t what safety means.

Continue reading the original post here, or read part 2 in tomorrow's blog post.

Welcome Mozilla as returning Gold sponsor of AdaCamp!

Mozilla wordmarkWe are thrilled to announce that Mozilla is returning as a Gold-level sponsor of AdaCamps Portland, Berlin, and Bangalore! As summarized in their mission statement, Mozilla is "a global community of technologists, thinkers and builders working together to keep the Internet alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and creators of the Web." Mozilla's projects include the open source Firefox Web browser and Firefox OS, as well as other crucial parts of the infrastructure of the Open Web. You can contribute to Mozilla projects in many ways, including applying for jobs and internships around the world.

Mozilla also supports AdaCamp and our mission by sending many Mozillians passionate about diversity and openness to each AdaCamp. Read a few of the blog posts from Mozilla community members about attending AdaCamp here, here, and here. We thank Mozilla for their long-term support of women in open technology and culture through many avenues!

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp 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. Applications to AdaCamp Portland are now closed. Applications for AdaCamp Berlin and Bangalore will be open soon.

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, Red Hat, and Mozilla, and silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.

Welcome Automattic, Red Hat and MongoDB as AdaCamp's newest sponsors

The Ada Initiative is pleased to welcome our newest Gold sponsors, Automattic and Red Hat, and Bronze sponsor MongoDB to the sponsors of AdaCamp, our conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture.

Red HatRed Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to develop reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage, and virtualization technologies. The company has more than 6,300 regular, full-time associates and is hiring both remote and office-based positions around the globe. Red Hat recently created the Women in Open Source Award, which Red Hat EVP and Chief People Officer DeLisa Alexander describes as an effort to "shine a spotlight specifically on women who are making important contributions to open source project(s) or the broader open source community." Red Hat is also the sponsor of the Impostor Syndrome training that will be offered at each AdaCamp in 2014. This is the third year in a row that Red Hat is sponsoring AdaCamp, after AdaCamp San Francisco and AdaCamp DC. We thank them for renewing their support!

Automattic logoAutomattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, Jetpack, Polldaddy, and more also contribute to nonprofits and open source projects. Automattic is hiring people to work on open source software to "make the web a better place for more than a billion people each month." All of the WordCamp conferences have Ada Initiative-inspired codes of conduct. Automattic is a returning sponsor, having also sponsored AdaCamp San Francisco at the Gold level. We thank them for their generous support.

Red HatMongoDB is an open-source document database, and the leading NoSQL database. The scalability and performance of MongoDB allows for its use across all industries and company sizes. MongoDB is hiring in New York City.

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp 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. Applications to AdaCamp Portland are now closed. Applications for AdaCamp Berlin and Bangalore will be open soon.

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 and Red Hat, and silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.