Category Archives: Seed 100 campaign

Tax-exempt status: no decision for several months

We got an update from the IRS on our tax-exempt status application last week. They need to review our application before making a decision. We submitted our application in October 2011; they are currently reviewing applications from… May 2011. In practice, we don't expect a decision before June 2012.

This is a big disappointment. While 2011 donations will be retroactively tax-deductible if we are eventually approved, we can no longer expect any matching funds for Seed 100 donations from companies that match employee contributions to tax-deductible charities and our Seed 100 donors cannot deduct their donations in this year's returns.

We made every effort to speed the processing of our tax-exempt application in part to show our appreciation for our Seed 100 donors. We are deeply grateful to all our donors who are making our work possible, especially during this crucial startup time.

Because of the loss of any matching funds, this does increase the urgency of our current fundraising drive. Please donate and help us keep the Ada Initiative going! Whether or not you can donate, you can help spread the word by email, blog, or tweet.

Donate now!

Please ask your tax professional for advice on your particular tax situation.

One step closer to tax-exempt status

This week we submitted the Ada Initiative's application to become a tax-exempt organization under U.S. law (for non-profit aficionados: we filed our Form 1023). This was a huge amount of work (both ours and our lawyer's) and only made possible by the funding from our Seed 100 funders. Seed 100 funds contributed to both our time in preparing the form including extensive project planning and budgeting for 2012 and 2013, and to our legal expenses.

We don't know for sure when (or if!) our application will be approved, but we hope to have a ruling from the IRS by the end of 2011.

Why is applying for tax-exempt status such a big deal? Here are a few of the advantages of being tax-exempt:

  • Many corporations match employee donations to tax-exempt organizations
  • Donors know we must follow a vast set of rules required to keep tax-exempt status
  • Donations to us will be tax-exempt for U.S. people or corporations (duh)
  • We get lower rates on credit-card processors
  • Many organizations offer services ONLY to tax-exempt organizations or significant discounts

Many of the rules that tax-exempt organizations must follow seem like they would make good sense for for-profit corporations as well (see, for example, the rules for determining executive compensation).

As an interesting side note, some new forms of corporations have recently been created that strike a balance between the corporate goals of profit and public benefit, with California recently passing bills that create new "flexible purpose" and "benefit" corporations. We're staying the traditional non-profit route, but look forward to a future in which corporations can make decisions based on social good as well as profit!

Ada Initiative news, August 2011

The Ada Initiative events calendar

Technology journalist Bruce Byfield, our new advisory board member, has volunteered to share announcements from, and maintain a calendar for, events for women in open technology and culture. If you have news and events to share, please send details to

Seed 100 rewards shipped!

2D Goggles prints signed by Sydney Padua

Close to two months after the end of the Seed 100 campaign, it's all over! The Sydney Padua and Colin Adams prints, together with stickers and lanyards, are distributed far and wide. At this point we believe nearly all reward packages have been delivered, please contact us if you donated to Seed 100 and have not received your reward mailing. We'd also love to see what has happened to the rewards: send us a photo of where your poster hangs, your laptop sticker, or your lanyard in use.

Thank you one final time to our Seed 100 donors! Thank you also to people who assisted with the campaign, especially Sydney Padua and Colin Adams for poster artwork, Skud for publicity, Donna Benjamin for sticker artwork, Sulamita Garcia for European shipping and our board and advisors for their input into the campaign.

Project planning

Project planning and budgeting is underway for several projects. We'd like to share a few ideas with you and see what you think (send feedback to

Training for women in open tech/culture

Women in open tech/culture start out at a disadvantage relative to men due to a lack of opportunity to learn about submitting patches, interacting online, writing resumes, meeting people at conferences, and similar job and community interaction related abilities. We will provide training for women in specific skills like resume writing, submitting a patch, editing Wikipedia, or similar.

Documentation of best practices

Over the years, online activists have learned what does and does not work. Wed like to document this knowledge and save new women in open tech/culture groups from making the same mistakes over and over again. In general, we will take freely available material scattered over a wide range of sources and turn it into organized, concise instructions, available under Creative Commons licenses.

Diversity consulting

The Ada Initiative advises organizations on how to attract and retain women in their communities. We help organizations with outreach, communication, program implementation, and more. For example, we provide immediate consulting after high-profile incidents at conferences in order to minimize the damage they do to the conference organizers. We also help organizations implement diversity scholarships and tailor recruiting strategies.

Geek Feminism

Some of Mary Gardiner's time in particular continues to be spent on the Geek Feminism blog. This month, in the leadup to Ada Lovelace Day on the 7th October, Mary has re-launched the Wednesday Geek Woman profiles. If you'd like to highlight a geek woman's life and work for their readers, contributions are open.

Mary also created the Women in FLOSS bibliography page on the Geek Feminism wiki. If you know of a relevant publication, please add it. An obvious direction for expansion of this bibliography is add references to information about women in Wikipedia and other open data and open culture communities, a hot topic in research right now.

The Geek Feminism wiki in general has been a major resource for the Ada Initiative and advocates for women in open tech/culture of all sorts. Your contributions and additions, no matter how small, are welcome, including adding indexing or categorizing to make information easier to find. Some of Geek Feminism wiki's most frequently referred to pages include:

Edit the wiki today!

Mary's PyCon AU keynote

Mary Gardiner delivered an afternoon keynote at PyCon AU on August 20, describing Python projects that are changing the world and inviting people to contribute. Find out more about Mary's talk on our blog.

Upcoming appearances

Valerie Aurora will be attending the 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Portland, Oregon on November 9 – 12. Grace Hopper offers free childcare to attendees who register before October 10th!

Sponsorship opportunities

The Ada Initiative's Venture Philanthropist sponsorship program allows organisations to sponsor the Ada Initiative for sponsorship amounts between $2000 and $9999 (USD) with a minimum of hassle. Contact for larger sponsorship packages.

Seed 100 rewards shipped

Envelope stuffing for Seed 100 rewards

Envelope stuffing for Seed 100 rewards

We shipped all the Seed 100 rewards last week. U.S. and Canadian rewards were shipped by ground, and should arrive between 3 and 7 business days from today, Monday August 15th. European and Australian rewards were sent in one batch to be reshipped locally after arrival no later than this Friday, so give them an extra week or two, depending on how long ground shipping normally takes from either Germany or Sydney, respectively. If you donated and have not received your rewards by then, please email us and we'll figure out what happened.

Thanks again to our seed funding donors! And now back to work on our funding proposals, non-profit applications, and other start-up work you made possible.

Update on Seed 100 Rewards

2D Goggles prints signed by Sydney Padua

We now have the all the 2D Goggles and Ada Lovelace prints, a heck of a lot of bubble wrap and cardboard, and a spreadsheet full of email addresses to ship them to. The laptop stickers should arrive this week and the lanyards next week. Rewards going to Australia, New Zealand, and nearby areas will be shipped to Mary for signing and shipping, so will be delayed a few weeks longer than the rest of the world (we know you're used to it).

We hate getting crappy schwag that goes straight into the landfill, so we worked hard to get really good quality stuff. Our goal for the lanyard was that it would be so cool that you would think, "Ooh, I'm going to put this in my suitcase RIGHT NOW so I don't forget to bring it to the next conference." It's a 32" full color dye sublimated lanyard with double alligator clips – no annoying badge flip!

If you are a Seed 100 funder, and expect to receive your rewards in the mail, you should have received an email sometime in the last 6 weeks asking you to confirm the shipping address PayPal sent us. If you have not, please email us at and tell us your shipping address. Thanks!

The Seed 100 campaign succeeded

We're pleased (and relieved) to announce the end of the Seed 100 campaign, 6 days before our planned closing day of June 30. 100 donors have now funded our program development work, and we're excited to move onto work that doesn't involve spending a lot of time hovering over Paypal notifications. We have a lot of work to do, but thanks to you, we feel confident the Ada Initiative will be able to fulfill its promise and mission.

Thank you to all our generous Seed 100 donors for funding our early work and showing the depth of community support for the Ada Initiative, from our first donor, Anonymous Donor #1, to our last donor, Chris Palmer, and all the donors in between. To our amazement, some individuals and groups donated above even the Analytical Engineer level, including Jesse Ruderman, Imaginary Bridges Group and Mattias Urlichs. We're equally flattered by the 57(!) Difference Engineer donors.

We do not currently have plans for another individual fundraising drive. The most important form of support individuals can offer us is not money, it is small, every day actions by people like you. If you'd like to help with the Ada Initiative's work, the best thing you can do is follow our work and announcements on our blog, mailing lists, Twitter feed, or other channel. Please sign up today! We are committed to high-signal, low-noise communication.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: we reached 100 donors. Thank you!

Seed 100 update: 6 to go…

Our Seed 100 funding campaign is getting very close to its goal now, and we're looking forward to meeting our final 6 donors. Will one of them be you?

Seed 100 is the only chance for individual donors to be prominent early supporters of the Ada Initiative, and it's an excellent way to begin to help out, if you've been dismayed at the lack of women's participation and leadership and unable to figure out how to help before.

Here's one last encouragement from an existing donor. Ben Leslie, father of the Youngest Analytical Engineer April Leslie, writes:

I think this low participation rate matters on two fronts.

Firstly, it has an overall negative impact of the open source community. There is the direct loss attributable to the fact that we miss out on the contributions of many excellent developers. Additionally, the are indirect costs. Also I think that having a diverse community working on any project brings a variety of ideas to the project that can dramatically improve the project.

Secondly, and more importantly, it matters to all the individuals who miss out on participating in the open source community. I don't think I really appreciated this perspective before becoming a father. I'd be pretty upset if my daughter missed out on being involved in the open source community because of some of the unnecessary challenges that currently exist for women in the community…

If your are involved in the open source community and would like to see more done to support women with in the community, I'd encourage you to become an Ada Initiative supporter.

Become one of our final Seed 100 funders by donating today.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Interview with Sydney Google Women Engineers Group

One of our donors at the Analytical Engineer level is a consortium, the Sydney Google women engineers group. We asked the members of this group to answer some interview questions and tell us a little more about themselves, the Sydney Google office, and why they donated.

Tell us more about the Google Sydney women engineers group.


The Sydney Google Women Engineers group is an official network, and all of the women engineers are included. We have lunch together once a month and we have an ongoing budget for events that promote and encourage women in computing, group activities and off-sites. For example, recently we took an acrylic painting class together; for a bunch of engineering types, the opportunity to splash paint onto canvas was certainly novel!

Why did you decide to donate to the Ada Initiative?

Eddy: I am concerned about the lack of women in computer science – were missing out on a lot of talent, and its not easy being a minority! – and the Ada Initiative is poised to make a difference. Its important that women become involved in technical jobs that shape the world around us.


Alice: I have seen first-hand the work that both Mary and Val have done in the Open Source and geek feminist" communities, and Im certain that if anyone is going to make a dent in the issues facing women in Open Source, these are the people for the job. The seed funding round was a perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, as well as get a very cool Lovelace and Babbage poster for our Ada Lovelace meeting room in the Google office.

Katie: It seems to be a common problem for women who are passionate about gender diversity in IT to burnout. Its hard to have a good work-life balance at the best of times without the extra work and stress involved in organising communities and events. The Ada Initiative will alleviate some of this burden on the volunteer time of many by turning it into a full time job for a smaller number of people.


Susannah: Like many women in technology, I would like to see more women entering and remaining in the field. Though I have the resources to affect change at Google, the problems are systemic and far broader. The Ada Initiative has the potential to make a bigger impact on computing culture than I can myself.

The Google Sydney office has meeting rooms named after historical women in computing. Which women and why?


The names of the meetings rooms are: Antonelli, Lovelace, Hopper, Spärck Jones, Liskov and Perlman. The names were chosen by the women engineers group by consensus, after much discussion.

  • Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper were obvious choices as some of the most well known (and hugely influential) women in the history of computing.
  • Kathleen "Kay" McNulty Mauchly Antonelli was one of the original ENIAC programmers.
  • Karen Spärck Jones work on information retrieval, and her invention of the Inverse Document Frequency measure in particular, is especially relevant to Google as a search company.
  • Barbara Liskovs well-known work in object oriented programming language theory earned her a Turing Award, John von Neumann medal and numerous other honours.
  • Finally, Radia Perlmans work on network design, in particular her Spanning Tree Protocol is also fundamental to our daily work.


The room names were voted on by the entire office, so we needed to promote our idea to everyone. It took the support of the whole office, men and women, for the idea to be put into place, and we're really proud of seeing the names there today. Here is what we wrote to promote the idea:

The women in computer science's history are too seldom celebrated, despite the fact that they have been an active part of the field since its very inception [...]. By naming our meeting rooms after the women who have helped make our field what it is today, we can make a positive statement about Google's commitment to promoting gender equality in computer science, while paying tribute to these pioneers and reflecting the Sydney office's openness to diversity.

In addition to being named after women in computing, each room has a picture and biography of the woman its named after.

Is the Ada Lovelace meeting room where your print from the Lovelace and Babbage comic will end up or do you have other plans for it?

Yes, the Lovelace and Babbage poster will take pride of place in the Ada Lovelace meeting room once it arrives, along with the photo and bio of Ada Lovelace that is already there.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

New Ada Lovelace portrait released under Creative Commons license

Countess Ada Lovelace is an important part of computing history as the world's first programmer, but images of her are few and far between. The Ada Picture Gallery collected all the free for non-commercial reuse images they could find. They are nearly all based on only two sources: A full-length oil painting of Ada as a young woman by Margaret Carpenter, and an engraved and colored portrait of her from the waist up, drawn by A. E. Chaton. Both are stylized according to the tastes of the time and it's not entirely clear what Ada really looked like (other than having a lot of stuff in her hair). None of the available images are optimized for either printing or the computer screen.

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait released under CC0

For the Ada Initiative Seed 100 fund-raising campaign, we commissioned a modern, cleaned-up, printing-friendly portrait of Ada Lovelace from illustrator Colin Adams. In keeping with our goals and ethics as an open technology and culture organization, we are now officially releasing the portrait under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means it is free for reuse either commercially or non-commercially, with or without modification, and with or without attribution (although if you'd like to give attribution, Colin Adams is the artist, and the Ada Initiative is the copyright holder). Download a variety of formats here; please send us new formats and sizes and we'll add them.

If you donate to the Ada Initiative Seed 100 funding-raising campaign at the Analytical Engineer level before June 30th, you will receive a high-quality 11"x15" print of this portrait, signed by either Valerie Aurora or Mary Gardiner. You can print your own version, of course, but you won't have the satisfaction of supporting women in open technology and culture at this crucial phase.

Please reuse, remix, and spread the word about this portrait. Raising awareness of the world's first computer programmer is one way to fight gender stereotypes keeping women out of computing-related careers. Thank you!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Donate for your daughters

Seed 100 funding campaign update: The good news is that we are 3/4 of the way to our target, the bad news is that we had only 11 donors in the last week. Meeting our target of 100 donors by June 30th (or earlier!) is important to show the depth of community support for the Ada Initiative to major corporate sponsors who will fund the majority of our work. Now is the time that your personal donation is the most powerful and will make the greatest change in our community. Donate now.

Daughters and the Ada Initiative

Becoming parents, especially of daughters, is a wake-up call for many people about the problems facing women in open technology and culture. We asked several of our donors about how having daughters influenced their decision to donate to the Ada Initiative, including Rachel Chalmers (The 451 Group), Luke Kanies (CEO Puppet Labs), Rusty Russell (Linux kernel developer), and Mike Shaver (Mozilla).

When you decided to help fund to The Ada Initiative, did the fact that you have daughters influence your decision?

Mike Shaver: Yes, very much. I'm the son of a female software developer, and — though she would never complain about it — I know that her career was harder than it would have been if she were a man. It bothers me that it happened to my mom, and it honestly infuriates me a bit that it might happen to my daughter if she chooses software, and if we don't change the world enough in time.

Rachel Chalmers: Probably yes. When you are childless, you can mostly shrug discrimination off, or frame it as a series of coincidental bad interactions. Pregnancy changes that: I had a male colleague ask if I could push the date of my maternity leave back a few weeks.

Rusty Russell: Yes. Mainly because I really wanted the poster for her room. :)

Have your opinions on the status of women in open technology and culture changed since your daughters were born?

Mike Shaver: I wouldn't say that my opinions have changed, but it resonates more with me emotionally. I've always felt that diversity in the workplace is both a moral imperative and good business, and that position has become much more concrete for me now that I have my daughter to frame it against. I've been very fortunate to be able to work without hindrance in the field of open technology, but I know that it wouldn't be the same today for daughter to get involved. Not OK.

Rachel Chalmers: Yes, and not just for my own daughter. Middle-class white girls like my own, especially those growing up in technology hubs like San Francisco, do have access to extraordinary resources: hackerspaces, Maker Faires, science books and documentaries, Arduino kits, science and technology museums. The same is not always true of girls of color or who are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families. It's for them, and not only for my daughters, that I want to make STEM careers more attractive and accessible to women.

What would you like The Ada Initiative to have achieved by the time your daughter(s) finish their education?

Rusty Russell: Ideally? Create a world where she has no concept that her gender would ever put her at a disadvantage in any technical community. Realistically? Ensure there are enough role models and overt acceptance that she feels welcome and her skills and passion can be nurtured.

Mike Shaver: I want it to be quaint and silly that an organization like the Ada Initiative was so badly needed. Assuming that my daughter chooses to pursue a career in software, rather than more respectable work, I want her gender to just be a non-issue. I suppose that's the cliched answer, but it's what I was thinking when I clicked the button to donate.

Luke Kanies: I frankly think it's achievable that women will become the dominant force in software delivery, like they are becoming in medicine and science, and the Ada Initiative is an important part of that. [Heck, yes! -- Ed.]

Donate for your daughters. And thank you!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture