Category Archives: Ada Initiative events

AdaCamp is coming to Berlin and Bangalore in 2014

Women in open tech/culture

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

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. Learn more by reading our AdaCamp San Francisco final report.

In addition to AdaCamp Portland scheduled for June 21-22, 2014 at the New Relic offices in downtown Portland, Oregon, the Ada Initiative is planning to hold AdaCamps in Berlin and Bangalore in 2014. The Berlin AdaCamp will be October 11-12, 2014 at the Wikimedia Deutschland offices. Planning is underway for AdaCamp Bangalore will be on November 29-30, 2014.

To be the first to know when applications open for AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore, follow us on social media, read our blog, or sign up for our mailing list.

About AdaCamp

Five pointed star with a rainbow of colors and the word "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.

Applications open: AdaCamp Portland, June 21 – 22

Women in open tech/culture

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

Applications for AdaCamp Portland are now open!

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.

AdaCamp Portland will be in downtown Portland, Oregon at the New Relic offices. The main track will be on Saturday June 21 and Sunday June 22, 2014, just before Open Source Bridge 2014. A shorter Ally Skills track for people who want to learn how to support women in open tech/culture will be on Monday June 23.

Apply to AdaCamp here

About AdaCamp

Five pointed star with a rainbow of colors and the word "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.

Ada Lovelace Day heroine: Sarah Stierch

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Ada Lovelace Day, founded by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009, is for sharing the accomplishments of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and thereby to contribute to their increased visibility. We encourage you today to share the story of a woman in open technology and culture who inspires you!

This is a guest post by Netha Hussain, AdaCamp DC alumna.

Photograph of Sarah Stierch

by Matthew Roth, CC BY-SA

Sarah Stierch (User: SarahStierch on Wikimedia) is an active contributor to Wikimedia, she has been contributing projects since 2006. She is an administrator on Wikipedia and the Program Evaluation & Design community coordinator at the Wikimedia Foundation. On Wikipedia, she is interested in writing articles about people and places. She was instrumental in launching the Teahouse, a friendly place to help newcomers get accustomed to Wikipedia’s culture and WikiWomen’s Collaborative, a global initiative in increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects. Both these projects she developed as a part of her fellowship program with the Wikimedia Foundation. She has also participated in OpenGLAM initiatives by working with prominent libraries, archives and museums in the US.

On Wikipedia, she performs administrative tasks like cleaning up speedy deletions and emptying the backlogs. Being an OTRS volunteer, she handles issues with images and media by adding appropriate licenses to images tagged for deletion. She does not get involved in controversial admin actions, like closing of consensus driven article discussions. She thinks that it would be a good idea to have more admins in charge of discussions related to women.

Sarah enjoys the work she does as an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation. Her experience as an employee is different from that of being a community member. Her experience as a community member always comes to help when she is asked her opinions about implementing new projects and programs. Some people treat her with more respect and interest because of her newly assumed roles. In her opinion, to have a chance to get paid for doing the work you love, with the colleagues you respect, to help Wikimedians around the world is a fulfilling experience. As a full time employee, she now also gets health benefits, which she thinks is nice!

She likes the work culture of Wikimedia Foundation. She finds satisfaction in being able to support one of the most popular websites in the world. Being located in San Francisco, the Wikimedia Foundation’s office is next to numerous tech-companies like Google, Yelp and Salesforce. She thinks that the unifying mission of employees of all organizations in SF to make the web a better place is a meaningful goal.

In the past, she worked as a fellow at the Wikimedia Foundation as a part of which two projects: the Teahouse and WikiWomen’s Collaborative were launched. She is still unclear on the impacts made by these initiatives, but evaluation shows that the Teahouse has helped retain new editors as a whole, a significant number of them being women. It is exciting for her to see her efforts making an impact not only in English but also in other language Wikipedias. WikiWomen’s Collaborative on the other hand has played a significant role in retaining the existing women editors, but have not brought many new women editors into the movement. She recalls that building the support system to help women was one of WikiWomen’s Collaborative’s achievements.

In her capacity as a volunteer, she has arranged numerous meetups and workshops to spread the word about Wikipedia. She recalls that the attitude of the Wikimedia community has generally been supportive, as most Wikimedians want to see more people get involved in the movement. She has been careful in avoiding discouraging comments from a few people who do not support her vision. She finds it tough to see the Wikimedia Foundation stepping back from the supportive role in increasing gender diversity, but she is happy that Wikimedia communities in different parts of the world have stepped up to fulfil this goal by organizing a variety of events and activities to increase the participation of women in Wikimedia.

Sarah believes that the Ada Initiative was critical in helping her become a better employee by helping her learn to handle unsettling and uncomfortable situations. Knowing how to address such situations has helped her to influence the environment at her office, and made it a safer and more inviting space for women. AdaCamp honed her facilitation skills, like making sure that everyone got their say in the discussions especially in male dominated groups. Among AdaCampers, she also found a great network of feminists around the world whom she can call on for support and advice. For her, it is a great feeling to be a part of the amazing community of AdaCamp alumni. The friendly space policies created by Ada Initiative is being used by her for all the events she and the Wikimedia Foundation conducts.

She calls upon all people to click [edit] when they find a mistake or an error on Wikipedia. She invites everyone to stop by the TeaHouse to get help on any aspect of Wikipedia. She wants all people to make a difference by editing Wikipedia.

Sarah’s biography can be read on Wikipedia here. She can be reached at sarah (at) wikimedia (dot) org.

Ada Lovelace Day heroine: Dana Bauer

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Ada Lovelace Day, founded by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009, is for sharing the accomplishments of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and thereby to contribute to their increased visibility. We encourage you today to share the story of a woman in open technology and culture who inspires you!

This is a guest post by Leslie Birch, AdaCamp DC and San Francisco alumna.

I got to know Dana Bauer at AdaCamp DC. Even though we both live in Philly, it was really the first time I got to find out more about her. She is a map wizard and often spends her free time sharing her talents with hackerspaces and other meetup groups in Philly. She was instrumental in me taking my first Python workshop — something I was driven to do after attending AdaCamp. Dana is very active with the Python community and I can remember one talk she gave about Py love that had astounding graphics and ended with everyone in hysterics. She knows how to engage people and encourage community. Most of all, she keeps me on my tech path and represents the type of woman I strive to be.

Ada Lovelace Day heroine: Sarah Sharp

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Ada Lovelace Day, founded by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009, is for sharing the accomplishments of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and thereby to contribute to their increased visibility. We encourage you today to share the story of a woman in open technology and culture who inspires you!

This is a guest post by Carol Willing, AdaCamp San Francisco alumna.

Thoughtful. Encouraging. Integrity. Commitment. Strength. Resilient. Collaborative.

These words easily describe Sarah Sharp, Linux kernel developer and USB 3.0 driver maintainer. Sarah's efforts with the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) in the Linux kernel demonstrate her commitment to build awareness, to encourage, and to celebrate the women that will become the next generation of contributors to the Linux kernel. I had the pleasure of spending time with Sarah and two of the OPW interns at LinuxCon this year and to see their energy and enthusiasm for improving the kernel and its community.

Sarah champions collaboration, inclusiveness, and respect to improve the Linux community. She's a wonderful ambassador for Linux, open source, and the Ada Initiative. Thank you Sarah!

Running your unconference discussions effectively: AdaCamp session role cards

At the Ada Initiative's AdaCamp unconferences, most of our sessions are participant organised and built around exploring or helping to solve an issue like mothers working in technology; the "likeability paradox" and similar issues. It's easy for even participants with the best intentions to get off-topic, or to dominate the discussion at the expense of others.

Thus, we encourage the discussion groups at AdaCamp to watch out for unproductive derails, and to appoint four people in each group to different roles for the length of a session:

  1. a Facilitator, who presents the topic and keeps the discussion moving forwards
  2. a Gatekeeper, who keeps the discussion productive and empowers people who haven't spoken up to make themselves heard
  3. a Timekeeper, who keeps the session to time
  4. a Note-taker, who makes notes on the session

To encourage groups to assign the four roles at the beginning of each session, we place four cards in each discussion space, to be handed to the volunteer for each role. If you'd like to use these at your conference, AdaCamper Barbara Hui, a software developer in the Access and Publishing Group at the California Digital Library, has prepared formatted versions of the cards that you can edit and print for your own event. Thank you Barbara!

Download the formatted cards: OpenOffice document, PDF

The text of the cards is:

Facilitator

  • Your job is to present the topic and keep the session moving forward
  • Attempt to be neutral and fair as you guide the session
  • If you want to be a major participant in the discussion, hand off your facilitator duties to another person
  • If you have any time guidelines, give them to the timekeeper
  • Pay attention to people’s emotions and signals and respond to them

Gatekeeper

  • Your job is to keep the discussion productive
  • Periodically step into the discussion and see if people who haven’t said anything yet would like to
  • Politely interrupt people who have been talking too long
  • Redirect discussion back on-topic if it gets derailed
  • Changing the topic is fine as long as most people agree with it

Timekeeper

  • Your job is to keep people aware of time and help them use it productively
  • Let people know at 15 minutes left and 5 minutes left
  • At the end of the session, interrupt and tell people the session is officially over
  • If people want to continue the discussion, ask them to move out of the room

Note-taker

  • Your job is to record important points, conclusions, resources, etc.
  • Add a link to your notes at: [insert notes url here]

These roles can also be useful at slightly more structured meetings. If you have a particular goal but need a fairly open-ended discussion around it, appointing participants to guide the discussion in productive directions is very useful.

Progress in 2013: AdaCamp and other Ada Initiative events

We're reposting sections from our mid-year progress report for 2013. Read the entire report here.

Photograph of Jen Mei Wu, seated

AdaCamper Jen Mei Wu, photo by Sarah Sharp

In June, the Ada Initiative ran AdaCamp San Francisco, the third AdaCamp bringing women and their allies in open technology and culture together to talk about issues and problems women face and about how to solve them. AdaCamp continues to be our most popular and effective program for recruiting and retaining women in open tech/culture, which is why we invest about 3 months of staff time on each AdaCamp. For example, 85% of attendees surveyed said that AdaCamp San Francisco increased their commitment to open tech/culture!

AdaCamp San Francisco was our largest AdaCamp to date, double the size of AdaCamp DC in July 2012, with about 200 attendees. It was the first AdaCamp to feature a dedicated one-day allies track for people of any gender. To increase the diversity of the event we offered travel scholarships to attendees from countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, India and Cambodia. AdaCamp is an unconference, and attendee-led sessions included: a Likeability Paradox discussion; diversity beyond gender, depression in activists, womyn of color, job seeking and career advice, and expressing femininity in technical spaces. We also incorporated Impostor Syndrome training and a make-a-thon and hackfest for the first time. Find out more about AdaCamp in our AdaCamp SF final report!

Netha Hussain explains the long-term impact of AdaCamp on attendees, 8 months after AdaCamp DC:

Netha Hussain

Netha Hussain

While traveling back to India, I was deeply satisfied. I had too many projects in mind, and the potential to work towards accomplishing them – Ada Camp put me in touch with the right people and right resources to get me started. Listening to the success stories of other participants helped me overcome my initial inertia, and stimulated me to work hard towards increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects.

pycon_hacker_loungeIn March we ran a smaller event, the first Ada Initiative feminist hacker lounge, at PyCon US in Santa Clara. The feminist lounge was a casual space in the exhibition hall, sharing a beanbag hangout space with PyLadies, and hosting sessions including "Impostor Syndrome Check-in" and "Hackerspaces: What’s Working, What’s Not?" We enjoyed hosting this home base for women at the conference and have suggestions for how you can do it too!

What's next? AdaCamp brings together so many women interested in working in and changing the open tech and culture space. AdaCamp is going to remain a core part of the Ada Initiative's work. We are hoping to work with dedicated event staff on future AdaCamps and are considering host cities for AdaCamps in 2014 and 2015. We will also publish a collection of event advice, for running events that are open, accessible and welcoming to women in open tech and culture.

AdaCamp, Github giveaways, feminist hacker lounges, and more: Progress in 2013

Women smiling

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

2012 was a tipping point for women in open technology and culture. In 2013 the Ada Initiative has worked hard to build on that momentum, through the AdaCamp conference, Impostor Syndrome training, workshops, speeches, interviews in the mainstream media, and more. With your help, we're continuing to make a difference for women in open technology and culture. Thank you so much for your support of our work!

Keep reading for a full report on our progress in 2013 so far. It's a little TL;DR so we will repost each section separately throughout the coming week.

AdaCamp and other Ada Initiative events
Impostor Syndrome Training (new)
Workshops and community-building for allies
Supporting women open source developers (new)
Community campaigns (new)
Press appearances and speaking engagements
New Ada Initiative supporters


AdaCamp and other Ada Initiative events

Photograph of Jen Mei Wu, seated

AdaCamper Jen Mei Wu, photo by Sarah Sharp

In June, the Ada Initiative ran AdaCamp San Francisco, the third AdaCamp bringing women and their allies in open technology and culture together to talk about issues and problems women face and about how to solve them. AdaCamp continues to be our most popular and effective program for recruiting and retaining women in open tech/culture, which is why we invest about 3 months of staff time on each AdaCamp. For example, 85% of attendees surveyed said that AdaCamp San Francisco increased their commitment to open tech/culture!

AdaCamp San Francisco was our largest AdaCamp to date, double the size of AdaCamp DC in July 2012, with about 200 attendees. It was the first AdaCamp to feature a dedicated one-day allies track for people of any gender. To increase the diversity of the event we offered travel scholarships to attendees from countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, India and Cambodia. AdaCamp is an unconference, and attendee-led sessions included: a Likeability Paradox discussion; diversity beyond gender, depression in activists, womyn of color, job seeking and career advice, and expressing femininity in technical spaces. We also incorporated Impostor Syndrome training and a make-a-thon and hackfest for the first time. Find out more about AdaCamp in our AdaCamp SF final report!

Netha Hussain explains the long-term impact of AdaCamp on attendees, 8 months after AdaCamp DC:

Netha Hussain

Netha Hussain

While traveling back to India, I was deeply satisfied. I had too many projects in mind, and the potential to work towards accomplishing them – Ada Camp put me in touch with the right people and right resources to get me started. Listening to the success stories of other participants helped me overcome my initial inertia, and stimulated me to work hard towards increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects.

pycon_hacker_loungeIn March we ran a smaller event, the first Ada Initiative feminist hacker lounge, at PyCon US in Santa Clara. The feminist lounge was a casual space in the exhibition hall, sharing a beanbag hangout space with PyLadies, and hosting sessions including "Impostor Syndrome Check-in" and "Hackerspaces: What’s Working, What’s Not?" We enjoyed hosting this home base for women at the conference and have suggestions for how you can do it too!

What's next? AdaCamp brings together so many women interested in working in and changing the open tech and culture space. AdaCamp is going to remain a core part of the Ada Initiative's work. We are hoping to work with dedicated event staff on future AdaCamps and are considering host cities for AdaCamps in 2014 and 2015. We will also publish a collection of event advice, for running events that are open, accessible and welcoming to women in open tech and culture.


Impostor Syndrome Training

Women in open tech/culture

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

Ada Initiative staff and volunteers have also launched Impostor Syndrome training, presenting on techniques that allow women and others to feel appropriately confident in their work in the face of the often publicly critical culture in open technology and culture. Denise Paolucci took lessons from AdaCamp DC's several Impostor Syndrome sessions and presented them at linux.conf.au, Open Source Bridge, and OSCON, with the Ada Initiative providing a captioned and transcribed version of the linux.conf.au talk. Leigh Honeywell additionally created a values exercise to combat stereotype threat and Impostor Syndrome, which we used at AdaCamp San Francisco.

What's next? We will continue to teach about and hold sessions on Impostor Syndrome at AdaCamps and add to our resources as we go.


Workshops and community-building for allies

Valerie Aurora speaking at AdaCamp DC

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

In 2013, we expanded our work educating and supporting allies – people who support women in open tech/culture but aren't women themselves. The Ada Initiative Allies Workshop focuses on what individual people can do to make their workplace or community a better, more positive place for women. We started the Allies Workshop program in 2011 and have continued to improve and grow it every year. The Allies Workshop has been run three times in 2013 so far: at Everyone Hacks San Francisco, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Allies Track of AdaCamp San Francisco. We recently posted a professionally recorded and captioned video of the Allies Workshop.

This year we ran the first Allies Track, a one-day meeting for allies of women in open tech/culture to get to know each other, share best practices, and make plans for the future, held in conjunction with AdaCamp San Francisco. About 20 allies of all genders attended, along with several dozen visitors from the AdaCamp main track. Attendee Jeff Pollet wrote, "It was [...] nice to be surrounded by a bunch of smart men advocating for feminism in tech."

What's next? The Ada Initiative is growing the Allies Workshops into a core program and expanding the number of workshops we teach. To find out more about holding the allies workshop for your project or organization, see our Allies workshop page. We are also in the early stages of developing a training program for workshop facilitators, to train others to deliver the workshop. We also plan to expand the Allies Track at the next AdaCamp.


Supporting women open source developers

GitHub OctocatIn April 2013, the Ada Initiative in partnership with GitHub offered private repositories to women learning open source software, giving people from underrepresented groups a chance to practice and grow their programming skills in private before participating in the mainstream open source community, where women often face higher levels of harassment than men both online and in person. This program has been enormously popular, with over 500 women requesting a free repository, showing the effectiveness of outreach programs targeted specifically at women.

What's next? We are open to partnerships with organizations who want to support women by donating resources, but don't have the expertise or infrastructure to run them on their own. Email contact@adainitiative.org to learn more.


Community campaigns

Piles of lanyards in each of red, yellow and green. By Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA.

AdaCamp SF lanyards, by Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA

The Ada Initiative has written multiple online campaigns and editorials this year, encouraging communities to support women in open technology and culture by carefully considering the role that sexual topics have at technical events and advertising any such material thoughtfully and respectfully to those who don't wish to encounter it; and encouraging event organizers to have photography policies at conferences that restrict non-consensual photography.

The Ada Initiative also participated in the #banboothbabes campaign, arguing that using sexualized booth staff at trade shows sends the message that women aren't the intended customers of technical businesses; and encouraged panelists at conferences to pledge not to appear on panels without women on them.

What's next? We will continue to keep an eye out for emerging issues and help boost campaigns led by others, as well as start our own campaigns. Your support through speaking up in your community is crucial to the kind of culture change we're working for.


Press appearances and speaking engagements

Mary and Valerie laughing

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

In 2013, the Ada Initiative became a go-to resource for journalists wanting to know more about the problems facing women in open technology and culture, both in the tech press and the mainstream media. In March, Valerie Aurora discussed the firing of Adria Richards in Slate, writing that:

one thing we can agree on is that the massive onslaught of rape and death threats [directed at Richards]… was wrong… It's up to us to change the culture of consequence-free online harassment.

In June, we reached one million readers of the U.S. print edition of Marie Claire in "When Geeks Attack" by veteran feminist journalist Alissa Quart, writing:

… Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, fueled by a dogmatic belief that all speech is free speech, [Internet attackers] have made the very act of being a woman in the industry something of an occupational hazard.

Valerie was interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio in July about the problem of harassment of women in technology and what to do about.

Valerie also spoke at several events in 2013. She appeared as an invited speaker at Fórum Internacional Software Livre in Brazil, moderated the good news on diversity in open source panel at Open Source Bridge, appeared as a panelist in the Gender & Technology open forum in San Francisco. She was also invited to be the keynote speaker at the first Ada Lovelace conference in October 2013.


New Ada Initiative supporters

JS community logoThe majority of the Ada Initiative's funding continues to come from people like you, individual donors giving yearly or monthly to support programs you care about. We love being accountable to you!

In 2013 we've been pleased to welcome major new supporters JSConf US 2013, with 85% of their attendees donating to the Ada Initiative at registration. Based on this donation, JSConf US sponsor Bloomberg donated an additional $5000. We also welcomed back Dreamwidth Studios as sponsors. In addition, AdaCamp San Francisco was supported by thirteen sponsoring organizations, including gold sponsors Mozilla, Automattic and Google Site Reliability Engineering.

We can't do it without you!

2013 has been a good year for women in open tech/culture so far, thanks to people like you! Without our hundreds of generous donors and the many community members who stood up for their beliefs, 2013 would have been a bleak year for women in open tech/culture. You are a critical part of a massive, world-wide movement to give women an equal voice and role in online culture. Thank you!

Portrait of Ada Lovelace in color

Another way to attract women to conferences: photography policies

There is plenty of evidence that quite a few women conference-goers don't like being photographed at conferences, especially when they aren't asked first. Conference goers report stealth photography, sometimes using telephoto lenses to get close-up photos without the subject's knowledge. Sometimes they are photographed against their will, such as photographers who continued taking more pictures even when directly told to stop. Some geek events have even had upskirt photography, shots down the front of women's shirts, and similar problems.

Camera with large lens

CC-BY potzuyoko on Flickr

The Ada Initiative recently asked women about their experiences with conference photography. Women reported that photography made it difficult to avoid letting stalkers or abusers knowing where they are, such as abusive parents or ex-partners. Some women experienced trolling, harassment and death threats triggered by new photos of themselves appearing online. Several women even have a dedicated group of stalkers who edit any new photo of themselves to sexually humiliate or threaten them. Other women are merely tired of being photographed like rare zoo animals, or their photos being used to promote conferences without their permission. More information on why some women dislike photography at geek events can be found on the Geek Feminism Wiki.

As a result, some women avoid or do not attend conferences where they can't opt out of photography or recording. That's why at all three AdaCamps to date, our photography policy is that permission to photograph attendees must be explicitly given. At AdaCamp San Francisco, our photography and recording policy was:

Do not photograph, video, or audio record anyone at AdaCamp without their express permission, sought in advance. Most attendees will have different colored badge lanyards showing their preference for photography:

Piles of lanyards in each of red, yellow and green. By Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA.

AdaCamp SF lanyards, by Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA

  • Green: Photographs always okay
  • Yellow: Ask before photographing
  • Red: Photographs never okay, don’t ask

There is no prior opt-into audio or video recording, you must always ask before recording.

Initially we used coloured stickers on badges to indicate preference, but they are much harder for photographers to see clearly and made some photographers give up entirely. Wide badge lanyards can be seen from all directions from a long way away. We are happy to say that we had no complaints about the difficulty of photography at this year's AdaCamp. We still need to devise a back-up signal for people without the ability to see the difference in the colours. Some suggestions include creating different patterns on each lanyard: Plain for yes, dots for maybe, striped for no.

Photograph of Jen Mei Wu, seated

AdaCamper Jen Mei Wu wearing a green lanyard, by Sarah Sharp

We recommend that other conferences adopt a photography policy that is not an automatic or default opt-in. Policies vary a lot, and sometimes include exceptions for group shots. What we like about the AdaCamp policy is that it is clear and unambiguous, not requiring any judgement calls about whether something is a group or individual photograph or similar. It has the additional advantage of not requiring people who never want to be photographed to opt-out over and over.

Other conferences with different photography policies include:

  • Open Source Bridge, which allows photography as long the subject knows they are being photographed, they haven't opted out, and any photographs are deleted upon request
  • WisCon, which allows video and audio recording and photography for personal archival use only unless an attendee opts out. It includes a suggestion to ask first, and a requirement to ask subjects before making an upload to a commercial website
  • Sirens, which requests that photographers ask before photographing attendees, and bans photography during programmed sessions unless the program information says otherwise
  • Con Carolinas, which requests that photographers ask attendees before photographing them, other than incidental appearances in a crowd shot

Photography at conferences may seem totally innocuous to most people, but when you ask women about their experiences, you can see how uncomfortable and even dangerous it can be. For some women, going to a conference without a photography policy means being photographed incessantly, a resurgence in online harassment and death threats, a dangerous stalker showing up at her hotel room, or pornographic photos taken against her will and posted online. Even without all these consequences, asking permission to take photos and post them online is just plain good manners.

Licence exemption: the photograph of Jen Mei Wu, used here with permission, is not covered by the Creative Commons licence for this post. Please visit the Flickr page for the photograph for information on re-using this image.

Kicking impostor syndrome in the head: lessons from AdaCamp DC and SF

Impostor syndrome is a common reaction to doing publicly visible and publicly criticised work like that done in open technology and culture; it's a feeling that you haven't earned and aren't qualified for the status you or your work have and a fear of failing publicly and being discovered to be an impostor. It is very prevalent among women in the space, many of whom have been socialised to value other's opinion of their work above their own, and to do things "by the book".

At the Ada Initiative's AdaCamp, impostor syndrome is such a popular topic of discussion that five sessions ran on it at AdaCamp DC in July 2012. More recently at AdaCamp San Francisco Leigh Honeywell ran an opening session for most conference attendees on combating impostor syndrome.

Video: Denise Paolucci, "Overcoming Impostor Syndrome"

As a result of the AdaCamp DC discussions, at linux.conf.au 2013 in January Ada Initiative board member and Dreamwidth Studios co-founder Denise Paolucci gave a talk on Overcoming Impostor Syndrome, sharing the strategies that were discussed at AdaCamp DC. Denise's talk has great strategies for both sufferers of impostor syndrome and for allies and leaders to help people realistically judge their own work and to seek help and support when they need it.

Talk transcript at the bottom of the post.

Denise's talk also appeared recently at Open Source Bridge in Portland.

Values exercise: Leigh Honeywell

At AdaCamp San Francisco, one of Leigh Honeywell's exercises for participants was based on the hypothesis that impostor syndrome is a manifestation of stereotype threat — the tendency of people to perform in ways that confirm stereotypes of groups they identify with, such as women performing worse on a math test if its mentioned that the test is looking for gender differences in performance — and had participants perform a values exercise that they can use before doing something like writing a resume or taking a test.

Leigh's exercise is based on Miyake et al's finding that writing about one's values helps combat stereotype threat. Participants identify five values (from a list including examples such as Decisiveness, Pleasure, Self-reliance and Wisdom) that are important to them, and write about one value. The worksheet also asks them to describe a time when they were asked for advice, ie treated as an expert. With this short, simple exercise, participants are primed for a more realistic, positive assessment of their own ability and achievements.

Leigh has released the values worksheet under Creative Commons Attribution, and welcomes contributions.


Talk transcript: Denise Paolucci, "Overcoming Impostor Syndrome"

This talk transcript is based on the caption file for the video of Denise's talk, prepared by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.

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