Category Archives: Donation drive

Kronda Adair talks about radical inclusion, AdaCamp, and women starting their own businesses

Smiling woman

Kronda Adair, web consultant

Kronda Adair is not afraid to say the F word: Feminism! In fact, she’s shouting it from the rooftops while also running her own business as a freelance web developer, speaking out on feminist issues at tech conferences and on her blog, and encouraging other women to strike out on their own and start their own businesses. Join her in supporting the Ada Initiative and donate today!

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"I heard that AdaCamp was being held in Portland and all my friends raved about it, so I applied," Kronda Adair told us. AdaCamp is the Ada Initiative's open-application, invitation-only unconference for women in open technology and culture. "It seemed like the best possible world – one in which participants are deliberately chosen and where the assholes are screened out before you even arrive." The actual experience exceeded her hopes. "I loved AdaCamp so much. Once you’ve experienced radical inclusion at a conference, it’s hard to go back."

Adair knows too well the feeling of exclusion, one reason she started her own web consulting business, Karvel Digital.

"I came fairly late to the tech industry," Adair says. "I went back to school at 34 and studied web development. Right out of school, I started working at a development agency. I had some good mentors but it was very male-dominated. There was only one other woman developer who left pretty quickly. I began to notice that I was getting a lot of flack about things that the male developers were not getting flack about," she says, "and eventually was fired. They said it wasn’t a 'culture fit.'"

Two women standing back to back smiling

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

This moment proved to be a major turning point for Adair, as she struck out on her own to create the kind of work environment she wanted. "Within hours of being fired from my job, my biggest feeling was one of relief and happiness that I didn't have to go back to a place where I wasn't supported and experienced microaggressions on a daily basis," she remembers.

It also gave her the ability to speak honestly about the marginalization of women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks in tech and become both a voice for change in the industry and an inspiration for other women looking to strike out on their own.

"I hang out in a chat room full of lady developers, so when the Call For Presentations for Open Source Bridge opened, the title 'Stop Crying in the Bathroom and Start Your Own Business' came to me and I asked my chat buddies what they thought." They were overwhelmingly supportive. Adair's talk was quickly accepted.

"There's not a lot of narrative in the tech industry about being able to directly use your skills to benefit people without the overhead of trying to get biased hiring managers to give you a job, or dealing with sexism, racism, homophobia or transphobia on a daily basis. I wanted to model that and show people that it's possible because it's the way that I see myself being able to stay in the industry long term without sacrificing my emotional health."

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors

AdaCamp Portland
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Adair's strong sense of community and solidarity is one of the reasons that AdaCamp resonated with her so powerfully. "This year has been one of a lot of stress and transitions and so it happened that when I actually attended AdaCamp, my energy was pretty much as low as it's ever been. I didn't really even feel fit for interacting with people, but the great thing about AdaCamp was that I felt completely safe showing up in that state and being open about it, and people just met me where I was."

Many AdaCamp attendees have expressed their gratitude and relief at the support, camaraderie and inspiration they find at AdaCamp, as well as a deep frustration that this environment is currently so rare. "I heard from many attendees that it was the first time they've been able to enjoy a technical conference while also feeling safe," Adair says. "That's a terrible reflection on the 'normal' conference experience. So I think it's vitally important to put pressure on the industry to do better and The Ada Initiative does that very effectively."

We can't thank Kronda enough for her support of our work and of women in technology! We hope many people follow her lead in encouraging women to found their own businesses as one important way to create a better working environment for women in tech.

Two women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Thanks to donations from people like you, in 2014 we were able to offer 3 AdaCamps – the most we have ever offered in a single year, and one in each of three continents: Asia, Europe, and North America. Holding multiple small AdaCamps all over the world lets us reach more women who need AdaCamp, instead of the lucky few who live in the top few technology centers. We also offer free registration, travel scholarships, and free child care to AdaCamp attendees who would be unable to attend otherwise. Making AdaCamp more accessible to the women who need it most also means that we lose money on each event. It's only thanks to donations from people like you that we can continue to make AdaCamp serve the needs of women in open technology and culture first!

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Python community close to raising $25,000 to support women in open technology and culture!

Pythonistas did it! With an additional anonymous donation of $2,000 from a security bug bonus plus $10,000 in matching donations, the Python community has raised over $24,385 for the Ada Initiative! We created a new donation counter with the $10,000 of matching donations included. Now we're wondering, can the Python community reach $25,000?

Two people sitting on a couch with laptops, one with a PyLadies sticker

Guido van Rossum and Lynn Root

Python developer Lynn Root still has a challenge open: if another 5 people send her a screenshot of their donation to the Ada Initiative, she will donate an additional $500, on top of the $500 she has already donated. Here's why Lynn supports the Ada Initiative:

It is because of the Ada Initiative that I felt inspired & empowered to bring their Ally Skills Workshop to Spotify as part of our internal diversity training. I took the workshop back in March of 2014; it left me feeling prepared and comfortable to handle uncomfortable and awkward situations, even though the workshop is meant for men. I have since been working hard with our internal diversity working group to integrate such a workshop into new hire orientation.

Thank you again Python developers Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Alex Gaynor, Carl Meyer, and Jim Meyer for their inspiring $10,000 matching challenge to the Python community!

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The Python challenge ends on midnight, Friday September 26, 2014, but you can donate to the Ada Initiative's yearly fundraising drive and get our Feminist Sticker Pack through October 8, 2014!


Python developers make $10,000 matching challenge to support women in Python!

Python developers Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Alex Gaynor, Carl Meyer, and Jim Meyer have banded together to issue a $10,000 matching challenge to the Python community! Read more about why they made this pledge:

Jacob Kaplan-Moss

Jacob Kaplan-Moss CC BY-SA Aidas Bendoraitis

Jacob Kaplan-Moss: "So, I’m eager see the Python community step up and support the Ada Initiative. By donating, you’ll accomplish two things: 1. You'll prove that the Python community stands for equality and inclusiveness, and against harassment, abuse, and hate. 2. Your financial support will arm an organization dedicated to inclusiveness, and one that’s having steady, measurable success."

Alex Gaynor: "The best hope we have for building programs that are respectful of the agency of our users is for the people who use them to be represented by the people who build them. To get there, we need to create an industry where harassment and abuse are simply unacceptable. It's a long road, but the Ada Initiative does fantastic work to pursue these goals (particularly in the open source community, which is near and dear to me)."

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors

Almost 96 women at AdaCamp!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Carl Meyer: "I attended my first PyCon in 2008, and I’ve been to every one since. I gave my first PyCon talk in 2011. That year, 1% of the talks were by women; ninety-five out of ninety-six by men. Being one of those ninety-five helped me to launch a career in open-source software. Ninety-odd other men got that same opportunity that year; one woman did."

They were joined by Lynn Root, Noah Kantrowitz, and, of course, the creator of the Python programming language Guido Van Rossum in supporting the Ada Initiative's work. Check out the #python4ada hashtag on Twitter for more. Donate now and help them reach their goal:

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You have until midnight, Friday September 26, 2014 to donate to this campaign and help us unlock another $10,000 to support women in open technology!

Note: You may have noticed the donation counter go backwards. This is not a bug – we chose to refund a large donation to the Python fundraising campaign by a person has harassed some of the Ada Initiative staff and been explicitly asked not to contact us again. In accordance with our sponsorship policy, we have refunded their donation. We are sure the Python community can reach this matching goal anyway!

"Diversity isn't a cynical PR move, it's a shrewd business strategy" – Why one venture capitalist supports the Ada Initiative

Smiling woman

Rachel Chalmers, venture capitalist

This is a guest post from Rachel Chalmers, Principal at venture capital firm Ignition Partners and a member of the Ada Initiative board of directors. Keep reading to find out why Rachel donated $2,000 of her own money to the Ada Initiative, and is calling on other venture capitalists and investors to join her in supporting the Ada Initiative.

As an industry analyst, I covered 1,054 startup companies over 13 years. Of these, the single most dramatic success was VMware, worth $40 billion as I write this. VMware was remarkable in another respect: one of its founders was a woman.

Two women smiling, CC BY-SA Adam NovakCorrelation doesn't imply causality, but Diane Greene's achievement is emblematic of a deeper trend that I and others have observed over the years: companies that recruit and promote women and people of color outperform companies that don’t. Diversity isn't a cynical PR move. It's a shrewd business strategy. It’s meritocracy practiced as a commitment to change, rather than as a lazy justification for maintaining the status quo.

This is a big part of why I support the Ada Initiative. The Ada Initiative's anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct have been adopted across the software industry, from technical conferences to startup incubators. They're creating safe spaces for women and other under-represented people to contribute their talents and perspectives to the world. These changes eliminate wasted potential and improve outcomes. Not implementing them is fiscally irresponsible.

Two women reclining and hugging

Rachel and Jean Chalmers

All that said, my support for TAI goes far beyond calculating profit and loss. I've written here before about the awesome education I was lucky enough to get. My mother, who died in February, was more than a match for me intellectually – crosswords were effortless to her, and she wiped the floor with me in Scrabble.

But she came of age in 1953, when the options for clever working-class women from the north of England were dire. She was the first in her family to attend college, but like so many in that position, she lacked the support she needed to graduate. It’s the world’s loss as much as hers. Who knows what she might have achieved? Mum did a brilliant job playing the hand she was dealt, but the game was rigged. I work with TAI to get everyone a fairer deal.

I encourage you to do the same.

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Why Guido van Rossum supports the Ada Initiative, wears a "Python is for girls" shirt, and answered questions from only women at PyCon 2014

smiling man

Guido van Rossum isn't afraid to say the F-word: Feminism! Join him in supporting the Ada Initiative and donate today.

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Guido van Rossum is the creator of the Python programming language, so it's not surprising that he is a keynote speaker at most PyCon conferences. What is surprising is that during his PyCon 2014 keynote, he announced that he would answer questions only from women. "Through out the conference, I've been attacked by by people with questions, and they were almost all men, so I think the women [...] are a little behind and they can catch up here," he said on stage.

We asked how he came up with the idea. "I was slated to give the keynote on the final day," van Rossum said. "The day before I had seen a keynote by Jessica McKellar, in which she painted a very bleak and well-researched picture of the situation of women in science in technology." McKellar's keynote inspired Van Rossum to acknowledge the women at Pycon more directly by only answering questions only from women.

Guido van Rossum wearing "Python is for girls" shirt

Python is for girls, selfies are for programmers

"There was one guy in the entire 2,000 person audience that made a tiny boo sound," van Rossum remembers. "Everyone else went with it, and we could all see then that questions from women were just as interesting as questions from men, if not more so! We just had a really interesting technical Q&A session. At some point I even managed to sneak in something about Imposter Syndrome."

Van Rossum also wears his famous "Python is for Girls" t-shirt at every conference keynote he can. He's doing this to make a public statement: women and girls are welcome in the Python community. Some people seem most impressed by van Rossum wearing a shirt that includes the color pink. "The t-shirt itself is not pink. But the girl in the illustration is wearing a pink dress," van Rossum notes.

This kind of consistent public leadership, in combination with hard work by many people across the Python community, results in a conference that is about 30% women – a level almost unheard of in large open source conferences.

Man sitting behind a laptop covered in colorful stickersSporting three Ada Initiative stickers on his laptop, Guido is a big supporter of our ongoing work to make the open source community a safer and more welcoming place for women.

"Looking around me, it is so obvious that women don’t get equal opportunities in tech and there are so many things that lead to that. The statistics are very clear. If I look around in the café at work there are tons of women. But if I look around me in my little engineering team there is only one woman. And I think it is a shame that so few women choose tech and those that do have so many things to fight."

We can't thank Guido enough for his support, activism and leadership, as we all work together towards a more inclusive open source community!

If you'd like to join Guido in sporting Ada Initiative stickers on your laptop and supporting women in Python, it's easy: Donate to the 2014 Ada Initiative fundraising drive before October 8, and you'll get the Ada Initiative sticker pack, including 3 copies of the "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker!

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

Portrait of Ada Lovelace in color


"As seen on Guido's laptop"

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"Fix it or Feature It" – Mary Robinette Kowal talks puppets, fantasy and safer spaces

Mary Robinette Kowal © 2012 Rod Searcey

Mary Robinette Kowal is a Hugo award-winning science fiction and fantasy author with a history of fighting harassment in the science fiction and fantasy (SF&F) community. Mary is donating 10 signed hardcovers of the most recent novel in her Glamourist Histories series to the Ada Initiative, "Valour and Vanity" – as well a signed manuscript of the upcoming fifth novel in the series, "Of Noble Family", scheduled to be published April 2015, along with signed hardcovers of the entire series. Signed copies of "Valour and Vanity" are thank-you gifts for donations of $256, and the signed manuscript and series for donations of $1024. It will be hard, but we promise not to read the manuscript before sending it to you!

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"I come from a theater background and there is a mantra, 'Fix it or Feature It,'" Mary Robinette Kowal says, speaking about her day job as a professional puppeteer. The idea is that if something goes wrong during a performance and you can't fix it, find a way to turn it into a positive for the performance. This concept has proved important in her role as a writer and public figure as well. Kowal remembers well a classic online forum incident that was a turning point for her.

Smiling woman sitting cross-legged holding a wooden puppet

2010 Annaliese Moyer

"A guy in an online fantasy writing forum [...] said a bunch of insulting things about me, including that I couldn't possibly be a feminist," she remembers. Initially, Kowal decided to ignore him, since he was speaking to an audience of no more than forty people. Then someone posted links to the discussion on Tumblr and the "audience" grew much bigger. Kowal decided that it was time to "feature it." She wrote about the experience on her blog, he ended up apologizing to her, and many people learned a lot more about the harassment women experience in SF&F.

"In these cases, there is a larger narrative that you are part of [...] When things go wrong online one of the things I am looking at is: 'How can I use this to make the world a better place?' I used myself as an example to talk about the larger issues of harassment and misogyny, and tried to bring attention to them."

Kowal brings her sense of justice and truth-speaking to her writing as whole – one of the many reasons we love it so much! Her Glamourist Histories delves into the complexities of gender, race and class, and her heroines don’t shy away from the difficult. As a sought-after speaker and panelist, she is a big supporter of the Ada Initiative's work on anti-harassment policies. She is also grateful for the many resources regarding harassment on the site, and the light that this work brings to the issue.

Valour and Vanity  bookcover

Donate $256 or more for a signed hardcover

"It is so important to talk about it," she says, "and to have clear resources and guidelines. All of the conversations that the Ada Initiative sponsors and encourages are so important to shape what the world will be like for the next generation."

Kowal follows her own advice and uses an anti-harassment policy in both of her writing workshops, "Writing the Other" and "Writing Excuses." She feels that it is particularly important in the more personal environment of a workshop.

"It is the kind of environment where people say 'Oh, you don't need one.' We give a speech up front about the harassment policy and make sure the students know that it is taken seriously. A number of students have blogged and mentioned that it makes them feel safer."

We are so grateful to Mary for her support, her writing, her activism and her courage. And that's just the beginning of the list!

Donate now, and you may be the lucky recipient of a signed copy "Valour and Vanity," as well as our new feminist sticker, "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism!" Don’t wait – these 10 copies will be gone in flash!

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

Our latest feminist sticker, yours for a donation of $128 or more!

Conference anti-harassment work in SF&F, 2014 edition: N. K. Jemisin's speech, Hugo battles, Frenkel saga & more

[Trigger warning for sexual harassment and assault]

Smiling woman

N. K. Jemisin, award-winning author and leader in the SF&F anti-harassment movement

It has been an eventful year for the SF&F community, to say the least! In the Ada Initiative's 2013 history of anti-harassment campaigns we wrote: "Sometimes fighting harassment and assault at conferences feels like a losing battle. For every step forward, it seems like there's another step back."

2014 was no exception to that rule: a powerful editor and long-time serial harasser returned to the conference most people thought he was banned from, award-winning author N. K. Jemisin gave another game-changing Guest of Honor speech, and the Hugo awards became a battleground for the future of SF&F, to name just a few events.

Keep reading for our updated history of conference anti-harassment work in the SF&F community, adding the events from August 2013 to August 2014. Part of anti-harassment work is giving credit where credit is due, so we hope you take a minute to read through and honor the many different voices that have worked hard to make SF&F more welcoming, sometimes without recognition or fanfare for years. This entire post is licensed CC BY-SA the Ada Initiative – please feel free to reuse and remix according to the terms of the license!

Remember: Conference anti-harassment campaigns do work – they "just" take several years of dedicated effort to succeed.

Table of contents

  1. About the authors
  2. Summary of the SF&F anti-harassment campaign
  3. Detailed timeline (skip to the updates)
  4. What's changed in 2014
  5. How you can help
  6. Sources and resources

About the authors

Mary and Valerie laughing

Mary and Valerie
(CC BY-SA Adam Novak)

As a non-profit supporting women in open technology and culture, the Ada Initiative cares deeply about ending harassment in geek communities. Our co-founders, Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora, co-authored the most widely used example anti-harassment policy, hosted on the Geek Feminism Wiki. The Ada Initiative's first project was advocating full-time for the adoption of policies in the open source community, often working directly with conference organizers and community leaders as advisors and coaches.

If you find our work inspiring, we hope you will join SF&F authors and fans in supporting the Ada Initiative's anti-harassment work. We can only do this work with the support of people like you!

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History of the science fiction and fantasy campaign

The big picture: In 2010, Sexual harassment, stalking, and groping were common. Serial sexual harassers operated with impunity. The feminist science fiction convention, WisCon, was one of the only SF&F cons with an anti-harassment policy.

In 2014, over 1000 people have pledged to attend only SF&F cons with anti-harassment policies, many cons have policies, and several serial harassers have been publicly identified, banned from conferences, and/or fired from their SF&F jobs. However, some people charged with the protection of attendees have not educated themselves about existing anti-harassment work, and voices for diversity and justice in SF&F are subject to terrible attacks. In terms of our terminology for stages of anti-harassment campaigns, SF&F is somewhere around Stage 5–6: Most conferences have strong, enforced anti-harassment policies and powerful harassers are being publicly named, with attendant backlash.

Detailed timeline:

Smiling woman wearing glasses

Connie Willis CC BY-SA Ellen Levy Finch

August 2006: At the WorldCon science fiction and fantasy convention, Harlan Ellison gropes Connie Willis' breast on stage during the Hugo awards ceremony (both are Hugo-award winning authors), kicking off extensive online discussion about sexual harassment in the SF&F community.

April 2008: At Penguicon, a hybrid science fiction and Linux convention, attendees create The Open Source Boob Project, in which some attendees wore buttons to signal whether they are open to requests to touch them sexually. The creator later had a change of heart and publicly stated that he thought the project did more harm than good by causing women to feel unsafe.

Vito Excalibur suggests the idea that becomes the Open Source Back Each Other Up Project, focusing on anime and comic conventions. This is a pledge by individuals to intervene if they see harassment occurring.

Geek Feminism LogoMay 2008: The Geek Feminism Wiki is founded by Alex "Skud" Bayley (formerly Kirrily Robert), becoming a go-to resource for feminists in a variety of geeky areas, including science fiction, computing, fandom, anime, computer gaming, cosplay, and more. Mary Gardiner becomes a major contributor to the Geek Feminism Wiki.

July 2008: Genevieve Valentine reports on harassment of several women at ReaderCon. The offender was quickly ejected from the conference.

August 2008: launches the Con Anti-harassment Project, focusing on comic, anime, and fandom conventions. members include Karen Healey and Hannah Dame, who were listed on the press release for the CAHP launch. Several conventions adopt a policy shortly thereafter.

January 2009: Racefail, an SF&F-wide discussion of race in SF&F works and criticism, and of fans of color and their experiences in fandom, begins. Several hundred posts (as listed by Seeking Avalon and rydra-wong) are contributed by many writers.

May 2009: WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention, adopts a clear and specific anti-harassment policy after having a more generic one for many years earlier, in response to an incident of harassing photography.

The Geek Feminism Wiki page "Timeline of Incidents" is started. This page records the sexist incidents in geek communities and currently goes back as far as 1973. The Timeline of Incidents, along with the rest of the Geek Feminism Wiki, eventually become vital resources in the fight for anti-harassment policies.

A woman with raised eyebrows wearing glasses

K. Tempest Bradford
(CC BY K. Tempest Bradford)

August 2009: The Geek Feminism Blog is founded by Alex "Skud" Bayley and many others, with frequent contributions from Mary Gardiner, Liz Henry, Terri Oda, K. Tempest Bradford, and many others. With a firm moderation policy, this blog becomes a safe space to discuss geeky and/or feminist topics, including fandom, technology, and activism.

The Backup Ribbon Project is created by thatwordgrrl. The idea is to wear a ribbon indicating that you are willing to help victims of harassment, either by intervening or by assisting them after the fact.

[ENORMOUS GAP HERE PLEASE HELP US FILL IT: Email or leave a comment.]

A black and white photo of Jim C. Hines, smiling with his arms crossed

Jim C. Hines

November 2010: Jim C. Hines creates a set of resources for reporting sexual harassment in SF&F, updated yearly. The 2013 version is here.

July 2012: Genevieve Valentine reports harassment at ReaderCon from René Walling, a well-known fan. ReaderCon bans him from the con for 2 years, in contravention to their stated policy of a lifetime ban. Hundreds of blog posts and petitions protesting this decision followed, as well as more reports of harassment by René Walling as well as other Readercon attendees, from Kate Kligman, Veronica Schanoes, and others.

August 2012: The ReaderCon board issues an apology, bans René Walling for life, and resigns en masse. Led by Rose Fox and Crystal Huff, the Readercon convention committee commits to many improvements on its anti-harassment policy and its enforcement.

Dragon*Con bans Backup Ribbons from the Backup Ribbon Project, citing concerns that harassers might wear them.

September 2012: Scott Henry writes an article for Atlanta Magazine documenting that Dragon*Con co-founder Ed Kramer has evaded trial for child molestation for years. Kramer continues to receive part of the Dragon*Con profits each year.

Smiling woman

Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin

November 2012: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) issue a a statement defining their sexual harassment policy and specifying that it applies to all SFWA events.

June 2013: N. K. Jemisin gives her Guest of Honour speech at Continuum 9.

So I propose a solution — which I would like to appropriate, if you will allow, from Australia’s history and present. It is time for a Reconciliation within SFF.

It is time that we all recognized the real history of this genre, and acknowledged the breadth and diversity of its contributors. It’s time we acknowledged the debt we owe to those who got us here — all of them. It’s time we made note of what ground we’ve trodden upon, and the wrongs we’ve done to those who trod it first. And it’s time we took steps — some symbolic, some substantive — to try and correct those errors. I do not mean a simple removal of the barriers that currently exist within the genre and its fandom, though doing that’s certainly the first step. I mean we must now make an active, conscious effort to establish a literature of the imagination which truly belongs to everyone.

Within days, SF&F writer and community member Theodore Beale denounces Jemisin in deeply racist and sexist terms on his blog, which he then syndicated to the Science Fiction Writers of America Twitter account (@SFWAuthors). SFWA apologises and bans Beale from syndicating blog posts to their account. Jim C. Hines and Amal El-Mohtar, among others, call for his expulsion from the SFWA.

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Mary Robinette Kowal © 2012 Rod Searcey

June 2013: In what appeared to be a watershed moment, Science fiction editor James Frenkel leaves Tor shortly after being reported for sexual harassment at WisCon 2013 by Elise Matthesen. Elise announced what she had done, without naming the editor in question, in simultaneous posts on the blogs of Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, and Jim Hines. Shortly thereafter, Sigrid Ellis names Frenkel in a comment on John Scalzi's blog post. Mary Robinette Kowal names Frenkel and details all the reasons why someone might be afraid to name him in "Why I am I afraid to name the editor?" K. Tempest Bradford reminds everyone that "high level people at Tor have been aware of Frenkel's behavior for years." More revelations about sexual harassment in SF&F, both by Frenkel and others, follow.

July 2013: Science fiction author John Scalzi pledges not to attend conferences without strong, specific anti-harassment policies and asks others to co-sign. N. K. Jemisin makes an important clarification that harassment is not limited to sexual harassment. Over 1000 people co-sign the pledge.

Mary Robinette Kowal posts an open letter to the "Twelve rabid weasels of SFWA" in which she reveals that she "spent four years in office [at the SFWA] and the first year I almost quit because I got so tired of getting hate mail." The post included gems such as "I know, I know. Asking you not to be racist/sexist/elitist, or just for impulse control is tantamount to fascism and catering to the liberal mob. All the other members manage to do it. Why can’t you?" and "Please quit. And by 'quit' I mean, please quit SFWA in a huff. Please quit noisily and complaining about how SFWA is censoring you for asking you to stop using hate speech. Please quit and complain about the 'thoughtcrime' of asking people not to sexually harass someone."

A green card with a picture of N. K. Jemisin looking at a small green monster, with the text "N. K. Jemisin, PC Monster, Writes amazing, critically acclaimed, award-winning fiction despite being neither white nor male!!! Uses Guest of Honor platform to brainwash audience with her radical-socialist-fascist-PC message of treating all people as human beings. +5 cloak of Not Taking Any of Your Sh*t.

PC Monster card for N. K. Jemisin

The PC Monsters of SFWA Twitter list is created, to mock members of the SFWA, described as "screeching feminists." Instead, people use it as a "Who to follow" list (DL Thurston made a copy here), and at least some members of the list suddenly gain dozens of new followers. Jim C. Hines creates collectable playing cards to commemorate the honor. The list includes Laura Resnick (@LaResnick), William Alexander (@williealex), Jess Haines (@Jess_Haines), Myke Cole (@MykeCole), Michael Swirsky (@mbswirsky), Josh Vogt (@JRVogt), Jim C. Hines (@jimchines), Amal El-Mohtar (@tithenai), Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed), Sean Wallace (@oldcharliebrown), Alex D MacFarlane (@foxvertebrae), N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin), Steven Gould (@StevenGould), Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford), and John Scalzi (@scalzi).

Dragon*Con finally gets rid of child molester and cofounder Ed Kramer by buying out his share of Dragon*Con.

August 2013: Theodore Beale is expelled from the SFWA for using it to promote hate speech, including racism.

January 2014: Amal El-Mohtar argues strongly against on-going "hand-wringing" over self-promotion of an author's eligible works for awards because it harms marginalized people the most, especially women and people of color.

February 2014: Dave Truesdale circulates a petition calling for the end of "political correctness" in the SF&F community (by which he means a return to cover art of sexualized women and women conforming to 1950's era gender roles). Science fiction luminaries Gregory Benford, Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, and Mike Resnick sign the original petition. A significantly rewritten petition calling mainly for a set of rules around editorial decisions at the SFWA is signed by many more award-winning authors, including David Brin, Jerry Pournelle, Nancy Kress, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, C. J. Cherryh, and Larry Niven. Natalie Luhrs posts a detailed critique of the original petition.

Sean Fodera criticizes author Mary Robinette Kowal for fighting sexism while simultaneously publishing photos of herself wearing a romantic dress. He later apologizes.

The "Women Destroy Science Fiction" Kickstarter to fund an all-women issue of LIGHTSPEED Magazine raises over $50,000 – more than 10 times the original goal. It is expanded to create all-women issues of fantasy and horror as well.

April 2014: Larry Correia and Theodore Beale recommend a "Sad Puppy" slate of works to voters in the 2014 Hugo awards, comprising largely politically conservative or "golden age"-style science fiction works. John Scalzi recommends assessing all the works on their own merits; his position is criticised by Shweta Narayan and Arachne Jericho among others for exposing marginalised Hugo voters to hurtful and dangerous sentiments.

May 2014: N. K. Jemisin gives her Guest of Honor speech at WisCon 38, directly addressing Beale's attacks on her, saying that:

… I was premature in calling for a reconciliation. Reconciliations are for after the violence has ended. In South Africa the Truth & Reconciliation Commission came after apartheid’s end; in Rwanda it started after the genocide stopped; in Australia reconciliation began after its indigenous people stopped being classified as “fauna” by its government. Reconciliation is a part of the healing process, but how can there be healing when the wounds are still being inflicted? How can we begin to talk about healing when all the perpetrators have to do is toss out dogwhistles and disclaimers of evil intent to pretend they’ve done no harm?

Despite last year's harassment complaints, WisCon allows Jim Frenkel both to attend and to volunteer in the consuite. After the end of the conference, WisCon pledges a response to complaints about Frenkel's presence.

A women wearing a face shield and holding jewelry wire and tools

Elise Matthesen making jewelry, by Sarah Ahiers

June 2014: Both Lauren Jankowski and Elise Matthesen announce publicly that WisCon has told them their 2013 harassment reports concerning Jim Frenkel had been lost by the con committee. Jankowski also reports that she had falsely been led to believe Matthesen had asked for Frenkel not to be banned.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen criticises a piece that Leah Schnelbach has written for valorising Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB) on the basis that MZB had been complicit in her husband Walter Breen's sexual abuse of children within the SF&F fandom community. In June and July, MZB's adult children Moira and Mark Greyland give survivor accounts of MZB's own abuse of them.

The full text of the zine The Great Breen Boondoggle, with explicit contemporary accounts of Breen's abuse of children in the early 1960s together with the Berkeley fandom community's discussion over whether to expel him, is made available on Wikia, causing fans to reflect on how many of the fallacies the Berkeley community fell into, particularly the fallacy that ostracism is evil — "We're all kooks. Walter is just a little kookier than the rest of us. Where will it all end if we start rejecting people because they're kooky?", "…if we do such a horrible thing as expelling him, I'll quit fandom." — are still widespread and causing harm in fandom fifty years later.

July 2014: WisCon's subcommittee reviewing Jim Frenkel's continued attendance at WisCon announces a four year ban for Frenkel with apparent "parole" for good behaviour. Their decision is roundly criticised and a personal post by the subcommittee chair and resulting discussion reveals several key failings, including interviewing Frenkel but not the complainants, and an attempt to apply a judicial model to him. Widespread negative commentary on the decision has been linked by Natalie Luhrs. Stephanie Zvan publishes a detailed on guide on how to decide when or if an accused harasser can return to "scene of the crime."

A woman in a long red dress standing on stage

Ann Leckie CC BY-SA Henry Harel

August 2014: In a joint decision, the convention committees of WisCon 37 and 38 revise the decision on Jim Frenkel's future attendance, and announce that he is permanently banned.

The Correia/Beale "Sad Puppy" slate performs poorly at the Hugo awards in London. Ann Leckie's debut novel Ancillary Justice, widely praised for its handling of gender, wins Best Novel, and receives a standing ovation.

What's changed in 2014

Unfortunately, 2014 revealed that some of the progress that appeared to have been made in 2013 was spotty at best, with WisCon, a self-identified feminist convention, unable to respond decisively to protect its community from well-documented harassment that had already cost the harasser his job. The subcommittee responsible for the Frenkel decision was unaware of existing best practices, including those arising Readercon debacle of 2012. Likewise, SF&F continued to grapple with its long history of privileging abusers' place in the community over everyone else's safety.

But anti-harassment bridges continue to be built, with activists and fans involved in safety committees and anti-harassment work reaching out to each other to share best practices. Authors like N. K. Jemisin, Sofia Samatar, and Benjanun Sriduangkaew who work outside the traditional fascination of SF&F and other literature and media with the experiences and ambitions of white Western men continue to find venues for their their work, though not as many as are justified by the quality of their work. The work that precedes reconciliation with the SF&F community continues.

How you can help

Two women smiling

Sarah Sharp and Sumana Harihareswara, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Whether you are the leading novelist in your field, or a lurker on a mailing list, you can take action to stop conference harassment. You can use your words, your influence, your money, and your participation to change the culture in your community.

  • Only attend cons with (enforced) anti-harassment policies
  • If a con doesn't have a policy, ask them if they plan to have one
  • Start a pledge to not attend cons without policies
  • Start new confs if existing ones won't adopt policies
  • If you sponsor events, only sponsor events with policies
  • Publicly support victims of harassment, especially if you are exceptionally influential
  • Publicly support anti-harassment campaigns, especially if you are exceptionally influential
  • Educate yourself on responding to harassment, especially if you are a con organizer
  • Learn more about bystander intervention
  • Buy books from the PC Monsters of Genre
  • Don't buy the works of people who harass or support harassment

You can also donate to support the Ada Initiative, which has been working full-time on ending harassment in open technology and culture communities since January 2011. Our 2014 fundraising campaign ends October 8th. Learn more about our progress so far and our plans for future work in 2014 and 2015.

Donate now

Sources and resources

List of geek conferences that have adopted anti-harassment policies
Resources for reporting sexual harassment in science fiction and fantasy
The Geek Feminism Wiki Timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities
Ada Initiative anti-harassment policy page

Reminder: This entire post is licensed CC BY-SA the Ada Initiative – please feel free to reuse and remix according to the terms of the license!

Librarians use cats, dresses, and good humor to raise over $20,000 for the Ada Initiative in 7 days!

4-year-old girl wearing a dress and smiling

$15,000 challenge: Why is librarian Chris Bourg posting pictures of herself in a dress at age 4?

Donors to the libraries campaign (listed by permission only)

Amy F. Bocko
Amy Kautzman
Andrea Snyder
Andy Shuping
Ayla Stein
B. Albritton
Beth Warner
Bill Landis
Bobbi Fox
Bruce Washburn
Candy Schwartz
Cecily Walker
Chris Adams
Chris Strauber
Coral Sheldon-Hess
Courtney C. Mumma, Artefactual Systems, Inc.
Dan Cohen
Dan Scott
David D
Declan Fleming
Derek Merleaux
Desert Librarian
Diane Shaw
Dorothea Salo
Ed Summers
Elizabeth Skene
Eric Phetteplace
Erin White
Francis Kayiwa
Galen Charlton
Grace Dunbar
Jackie Dooley
Jaclyn Bedoya
Jacob Berg
janet carleton
Jason Casden
Jason Griffey
Jen Weintraub
Jen Young
Jennifer Vinopal
Jim DelRosso
Jodi Berkowitz
Johanna Carll
John Mark Ockerbloom
Jon Kiparsky
Jonathan Rochkind
Julie C. Swierczek
Kathleen Quinton
Kathy Lussier
Keri Cascio
Kevin Reiss
Kevin Stranack
Lisa Snider
Margaret Heller
Mark Beatty
Matt Critchlow
Maura Smale
May Yan
Meg Ecclestone
Merrilee Proffitt
Michael Perry
Mike Giarlo
Nadia Dixson
Netanel Ganin
Patricia Hswe
Patrick Lam
Paul Bracke
Peter Murray
Polly-Alida Farrington
Rachel Frick
Ralph LeVan
Robin Champieux
Ross Singer
Roy Tennant
Samantha Hines
Sarah Shreeves
Sarah Simpkin
Scott Hanrath
Shana L. McDanold
Sharon E. Farb
Sibyl Schaefer
steev'n villereal
Tara Robertson
Trevor Munoz

and 59 anonymous donors

When Bess Sadler, Andromeda Yelton, Chris Bourg, and Mark Matienzo pledged to match up to $5120 donated by librarians to the Ada Initiative, they hoped to reach their goal in 6 days. Instead, they met it in less than 24 hours! But they didn’t stop there – they announced stretch goals that grew to over $15,000. As of this post, they are only a few hundred dollars away from the latest goal: $16,384 to create a cat-themed skin for an open source online library catalog system.

All told, the library community has raised over $21,000 in just 7 days for the Ada Initiative. Join them in donating now (libraries campaign link here):

Donate Now

We are still in awe of the way that the library community has mobilized in support of our work – and taken the lead when it comes to putting the Ada Initiative's work into practice. For example, Stanford University Libraries is the only organization we know of with an official written policy strongly encouraging its employees to only attend conferences with codes of conduct, and we look forward to teaching the Ally Skills Workshop at the Digital Libraries Forum in October. We hope that other open tech/culture communities will follow the library community's lead!

We can’t thank you all enough for your collective support, your powerful words that bring attention to important issues in library tech as well as our work, and your sheer enthusiasm! We are also thrilled that you seemed to have a pretty good time doing it:

Text: "#libs4ada We've achieved #ButchInADress! Let's get to #CatalogsForCats today at $16,384! …" with picture of the Koha logo with cat ears and whiskers drawn on

$16384 challenge: Cat theme for open source library software!

With the donations from the library community and the rest of our fundraising drive, we looking forward to running four AdaCamps in 2015, teaching even more Ally Skills Workshops, and much more!

A special thank you to Andromeda Yelton, Bess Sadler, Chris Bourg, and Mark Matienzo for organizing this spectacularly successful donation campaign and joining in the matching challenge. Chris's stretch challenges were unforgettable.

And our deepest gratitude to everyone who wrote blog posts for and donated to this campaign. Some of the many related blog posts are here (thanks Galen Charlton for collecting these):

Join the library community in supporting women in open technology today! If you donate $128 or more, you will get our new "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker, too!

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

Donate Now

Geek spaces must move beyond "Kumbaya" – Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin on why she supports the Ada Initiative

Book cover with the image of a huge red moon over a city on a plateauAt the Ada Initiative, we're fans of N. K. Jemisin's work – all of it! She's an award-winning author, a powerful speaker, and one of the earliest and most eloquent voices in the fight against harassment of women and people of color in the science fiction and fantasy community. We are thrilled to offer a copy of N. K. Jemisin's novel "The Killing Moon" to the next 36 people who donate $128 or more to support the Ada Initiative's work fighting harassment in geek communities. The copies are all sold out now! Thank you, N. K. Jemisin!

Donate now

Smiling woman

Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin

"I've been a black female geek all my life," says award-winning author N. K. Jemisin, "and I have struggled with inclusiveness in geek spaces. I have heard the excuses: 'There is no harassment, racism, or bigotry in geek space. We sit around singing "Kumbaya" and coding.'"

What Jemisin actually experienced when she joined geek spaces was, of course, totally different: the racism and sexism were bad enough that she nearly did not pursue her career as a professional writer because of it. "Early on, I ventured onto Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine's online forum, back before there was any moderation," she remembers. "The bigotry and sexism were overwhelming. And here I am, dipping a toe in thinking these are supposed to be my people."

Book cover with the image of a huge red moon over a city on a plateau

Get your copy of "The Killing Moon" by donating $128 or more

Anyone who has read N. K. Jemisin's books, stories, and blog knows how lucky we are that she persevered anyway, and became an award-winning professional writer and a sought-after speaker. Her debut novel, "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms," set in the aftermath of a world-wide war between the gods, won the Locus Award and was short-listed for many other awards, including the Hugo. Her "Dreamblood" series explores themes of power and corruption in a fully-realized society inspired by ancient Egypt. Her Guest of Honor speeches at WisCon 38 and Continuum received widespread acclaim. Many of us are used to reading fiction while braced for throwaway racism or sexism and unimaginative, derivative retellings of familiar themes. Pick up a Jemisin book or story and you can enjoy yourself, braced only for new ideas and brilliant writing.

Having encountered harassment and racism in many conference environments, Jemisin supports Ada Initiative's anti-harassment policy work and Ally Training Workshops which teach men simple everyday ways to speak up for and support women in their workplaces and communities. "Ally training work is essential," Jemisin says, stressing that harassers in geek space are the minority, and empowered allies can speak up to teach them that they don’t run the show. "Harassment is a learned behavior. Bigotry is a learned behavior. These behaviors have to be unlearned."

A green card with a picture of N. K. Jemisin looking at a small green monster, with the text "N. K. Jemisin, PC Monster, Writes amazing, critically acclaimed, award-winning fiction despite being neither white nor male!!! Uses Guest of Honor platform to brainwash audience with her radical-socialist-fascist-PC message of treating all people as human beings. +5 cloak of Not Taking Any of Your Sh*t.On a lighter note, N. K. Jemisin's work fighting racism and sexism in speculative fiction was commemorated in a tongue-in-cheek collectible playing card created by Jim C. Hines. The description mocks the hyperbole of the people trying to hang on to the racist, sexist old days, and includes "Uses Guest of Honor platform to brainwash audience with her radical-socialist-fascist-PC message of treating all people as human beings." We're honored to be working with her towards that reprehensible goal. :)

We hope you'll follow N. K. Jemisin's lead and donate to support the Ada Initiative's anti-harassment work. If you don't have a critically acclaimed award-winning novel to donate, perhaps instead you can give $128 and get a copy of "The Killing Moon" SOLD OUT – and our new sticker, "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism."

Donate Now

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

Librarians donate over $10,000 to the Ada Initiative!

Librarians and archivists are an essential part of open technology and culture – the original open data, you might say. So we shouldn't be that surprised that the library community raised over $10,000 to support the Ada Initiative's work fighting harassment at conferences and teaching ally skills to men!

Smiling woman with glasses, by Molly Tomlinson

Andromeda Yelton by Molly Tomlinson

Andromeda Yelton, Bess Sadler, Chris Bourg, and Mark Matienzo pledged to match up to $5120 donated by librarians to the Ada Initiative. We planned to run this challenge for 5 days, but instead they reached their match in less than 24 hours! We are announcing stretch goals like this one for $8192 on the Twitter hashtag #libs4ada. If you are part of the library community, you can join Andromeda, Bess, Chris, and Mark and donate at this link to support women in open technology and culture. If you aren't, please donate at this link instead.

Here are a few of the blog posts the library community wrote:

The Ada Initiative Has My Back by Bess Sadler
Why I support the Ada Initiative. (You, too?) by Andromeda Yelton
This librarian supports the Ada Initiative by Chris Bourg
Support the Ada Initiative by Jason Griffey
The Power of Powers of 2 by Roy Tennant
The Ada Initiative Needs Your Help by Jake Berg
Why the Loon supports the Ada Initiative by the Loon
i support the Ada Initiative by Amy Buckland
Why this librarian supports the Ada Initiative by Erin White

Join the library community in supporting women in open technology today! If you donate $128 or more, you will get our new "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker, too!

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

Donate Now