Ally Skills Workshop

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learn techniques that work at the office, at conferences, and online. The skills we teach are relevant everywhere, including skills particularly relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the workshop, participants will feel more confident in speaking up to support women, be more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and have closer relationships with the other participants.

Workshop structure

Can we get more training like that? – Anonymous participant

The Ally Skills Workshop is taught in person by an experienced facilitator, with 15 – 50 people in each workshop. The workshop begins with a short introduction to the basics of speaking up in a supportive way, then switches to discussion of 5 – 10 specific scenarios in groups of 4 – 6 people. Scenarios vary from introducing yourself to a woman at a conference to responding as a witness to sexual harassment or assault. After discussing each scenario, each group reports on their discussion and conclusions, and the facilitator makes suggestions for improvement or identifies insights. Scenarios can be customized in advance or suggested at the workshop. The workshop is 3 hours long with a 15 minute break at the 1.5 hour mark.


A woman explains while a man listens“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many “a­ha” moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily. – A​nonymous train­-the­-trainers client

The workshop helped identify situations which “really” happen. In my (sheltered) world I often don’t see the kind of behaviour that was illustrated and it was interesting to be able to discuss the situations with the people present. I notice it has made me a little more alert to that kind of situation in my own environment.” – Jan-Bart de Vreede

“The Ada Initiative’s training on gender in technology was a great opportunity for me, as a woman, to openly discuss the issues that exist within our communities. In the training, folks of all genders were able to come together and talk through ways that we can create a more inclusive work environment. I truly hope that all organizations host this training – your teams will be stronger from it.” – Renee Bracey Sherman

I found the Ally Skills Workshop gave me new tools to support people who may sometimes find it difficult to participate in the workplace. It also helped me to improve my understanding of the issues women and other visible minority communities can face in their daily lives and provided me with a framework for having supportive, honest and open conversations about them.” – Peter van Hardenberg


Ally Skills Workshop slides: Example slides for the Ally Skills Workshop that can be easily customized, with extensive presentation notes (ODP) (PPT) (PDF)

Facilitator’s Guide: A detailed facilitator’s guide to help people learn how to teach the workshop (PDF)

Example handout: Printed handout to give participants at the end of the class (PDF)

Online curriculum: A full online curriculum for the workshop is available on the Geek Feminism wiki.

Video: Video of an Ally Skills Workshop taught at the Wikimedia Foundation. To protect the privacy of the participants, their comments are edited out. A full transcript is available, provided by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.

Schedule a workshop

The Ada Initiative no longer teaches Ally Skills Workshops. Email for more information about other ways to get the workshop. A train-the-trainers class is also available.