AdaCamp Berlin applications closing early on 15th August

New application deadline for AdaCamp Berlin: 15th August

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

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

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

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

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia-related projects, open data, open geo, library technology, fan fiction, remix culture, and more. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, share skills, discuss problems with open tech/culture communities that affect women, and find ways to address them.

In 2014, the Ada Initiative is holding three AdaCamps located in technology hubs on three continents: Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India.


Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture on three continents. Contact us at for more information about becoming a sponsor.

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

Announcing Ada Initiative's sponsorship policy

At the Ada Initiative, our mission comes first. That's why we will only accept sponsorships or partnerships that further our mission of increasing the status and participation of women in open technology and culture.

In the past, we have turned down or ended partnerships because we felt they were more likely to harm women in open tech/culture than help them. Usually we do not share these decisions publicly, but we have twice in the last year needed to make public announcements about the end of one of our sponsorships or partnerships: once in 2013 with Michael Schwern, and once in 2014 with GitHub. This has happened enough times that we decided to write and publish a sponsorship policy that explains how we decide to begin and end sponsorships and partnerships. Our new sponsorship policy is available here and included at the end of this post. The rest of this post explains the motivation and reasoning behind creating our sponsorship policy.

Why we need sponsorships at all

The Ada Initiative's mission is to increase the status and participation of women in open technology and culture. We make a difference by providing support, education, and tools to people of all genders to help them change the culture of their communities to be more supportive of women, and to help women overcome internalized sexism. We do this most effectively by paying people at market rate to implement our programs, rather than asking people (often women) to work for free in an unsustainable manner – a relatively common and harmful practice in this space. At a fundamental level, we raise money for our work because we are trying to change the system we live in at the same time that we, the organization and our employees, have to survive within that system – and that system requires money.

In order to pay our employees and fund programs like our AdaCamp unconferences, we accept funding from several sources: primarily donations from individuals, but also fees for teaching workshops, donations in kind, and monetary donations from corporations. (When we say "sponsorship" we refer to monetary donations, and "partnership" means in-kind donations or joint projects not necessarily involving money.) At the Ada Initiative, we strive to find creative ways to make our funding sources align with our mission as much as possible. This is part of why we rely so heavily on many smaller donations from individual people who share our mission: because they allow us the independence to refuse corporate sponsorships when we feel they might harm our mission.

How corporate sponsorships support our mission

Most corporate donations are in the form of public sponsorship of one of our programs or of the Ada Initiative’s work as a whole. In most cases, public sponsorships advance our mission in several ways, by:

  • Raising awareness of the Ada Initiative’s work
  • Showing that corporations in the field support this work
  • Sending a message to people and organizations working for and with the sponsor about expected behavior and values
  • Supporting employees within the sponsoring organization who advocate for change
  • Connecting women in open tech/culture with supportive organizations
  • Funding our work directly

We are incredibly grateful to our many generous sponsors who make our work possible.

How sponsorships and partnerships can harm our mission

In some cases, accepting sponsorship from an organization or person can actually harm our mission! Public partnership with the Ada Initiative can be used to silence criticism of an organization or person's actions that are harmful to women in open tech/culture. Sponsorship can be used as "proof" that an organization can’t be sexist, or isn’t sexist any longer, allowing the organization to avoid meaningful systemic change to prevent and make reparations for bad behavior. It can be used to provide cover for future abuses of women in open tech/culture. It can cause victims of abuse to doubt the reality of their experience and discourage them from reporting it. Even private sponsorships – donations that are made without revealing the identity of the donor publicly – can harm our mission, by causing us to potentially self-censor or limit our activities to avoid losing potential future income.

Why we created a public sponsorship policy

For reasons discussed above, the Ada Initiative has refused several potential sponsorships and partnerships, and ended a handful of existing sponsorships and partnerships. We also sometimes refuse to teach training workshops for certain organizations or participate in certain events. Reasonably enough, some people want to know how we make decisions about who to sponsor or partner with. Initially, we did not have enough information to create a formal written sponsorship policy, but after three years of experience making these decisions, we felt comfortable writing down and publishing our standards. We will continue to revise and update this policy as needed.

Why we can't comment on ending specific sponsorships

Our sponsorship policy explains our general reasoning and philosophy around accepting or rejecting sponsorships or partnerships. Because we don't want the Ada Initiative to be bankrupted by legal costs defending against potential libel or defamation lawsuits, we often can't give any further explanation or discussion of why we ended or refused any particular sponsorship or partnership (or even hint or imply why we did so, or discuss any legal advice we might have received). We're sorry about this, and note the bitter irony that these are the same considerations that often silence and harm the people we are trying to serve.

A note on dialogue and explanations

When the Ada Initiative disassociates ourselves with a person or organization, people often pressure us to engage in a dialogue with the person or organization concerned. Many people believe that most or all people and organizations they think well of have compatible values with themselves, and any apparent disagreement between them must be the result of a misunderstanding or lack of education. This is often expressed as "I'm sure if you just talked, everything would work out." Unfortunately, our experience over several years is that many people and organizations do not have compatible values with the Ada Initiative's mission, and in those cases, dialogue with them often serves only to legitimize their opinions and actions and use up the Ada Initiative's extremely limited staff time.

Please do not pressure us to engage in dialogue with a person or organization. As an organization involved in education, we are already aware of that option and have used it if we think it is appropriate. Also, please don't demand that we share more information – we can't usually publicly share all of the information we used to make a decision to disassociate ourselves for many reasons. Our desire to protect victims and to avoid bankruptcy through legal fees are only the two most common reasons.

How publishing our policy helps our mission and our sponsors

An explicit sponsorship/partnership policy with publicly defined standards will increase the effectiveness of an Ada Initiative sponsorship. Published sponsorship standards mean that when an individual or organization is an Ada Initiative sponsor, others know that the Ada Initiative has done some level of research on an organization or person and believes that, overall, they are working to support women in open tech/culture.

Being public about our partnership standards furthers our mission in another way: when people know that the Ada Initiative does due diligence on partners and will sever those relationships if necessary, they feel more comfortable reporting problems or concerns they have about the employees or statements of our current partners. This gives the partnering organization or person the chance to address and fix the problems, with the assistance and expertise of the Ada Initiative if they request it. Our experience with this situation so far has been overwhelmingly positive – for the people reporting the problem, for Ada Initiative sponsors, and for our mission of supporting women in open tech/culture.

Having high standards for Ada Initiative sponsors and partners is good for women in open tech/culture. Documenting and publishing those standards is even better.

If you believe that we are not living up to the standards and commitments we make in this policy, please email us at

Read the most up-to-date version of our sponsorship policy here, or read below for the version as of the publication of this blog post.

Ada Initiative sponsorship policy

The Ada Initiative will only accept sponsorship or partnership arrangements that further our mission of increasing the status and participation of women in open technology and culture. This policy describes how we decide to begin or end these arrangements.

Beginning sponsorships or partnerships

We do some basic research on organizations and people who want to sponsor or partner with us before we accept. We search for public information such as news stories, ask current or former employees about their experiences, and draw on the personal networks of our staff and advisors. Here are some of the questions we ask when deciding whether a sponsorship or partnership will advance our mission of supporting women in open tech/culture:

  • What are the publicly expressed opinions and actions of senior leadership in this organization?
  • At a systemic level, does this organization or person improve the environment for women in open tech/culture or make it worse?
  • Do its business activities directly harm women or open tech/culture?
  • Does it encourage reporting of incidents of harassment or discrimination by or within its organization?
  • When it learns of such incidents, how does it respond?

We look for organizations and people that proactively work to prevent problems in the first place, accept responsibility for problems, apologize sincerely for the harm done, make amends where possible, review the circumstances that allowed the problem to happen, and institute changes to reduce the likelihood of future similar problems.

While past behavior is a strong indicator of future behavior, we don’t make sponsorship decisions based solely on whether or not an organization or person has done something wrong in the past. As organizations grow, the likelihood of someone in the organization doing something that harms women in open tech/culture grows. Organizations exist in the context of today’s society and its injustices and inequalities, and all of us are complicit at some level in those injustices and inequalities. We are interested in the direction of change in the organization, both internally and in its effect on the outside world.

Ending sponsorships or partnerships

Sometimes we will come to the conclusion that an existing sponsorship or partnership no longer supports women in open tech/culture. This is not a decision we make lightly, and usually involves a large number of factors and inputs, not all of which are public. Most, if not all, decisions involve weeks or months of discussion with dozens of people, trying to find more information that would help us make the right decision to support women in open tech/culture.

If we believe that it would be an effective use of our time to talk directly with the sponsor or partner about why we are ending a partnership, we may do so – e.g., if we have a long history of working closely together with a specific person at the organization, or if an organization has a history of asking for feedback and correcting mistakes, or if they come to us with what appears to be a sincere request for help. Part of what we do at the Ada Initiative is advise people and organizations on how to support women in open tech/culture. However, the Ada Initiative is a very small organization with extremely limited time and funding, so we choose carefully how we spend our time. We don't choose to invest our time in organizations or people who have a history of harassment by top management, who have a history of harassment without visible consequences for the harasser, who have repeatedly ignored advice from outside experts, or who appear insincere in their desire to support women in open tech/culture.

Resuming partnerships

If we have discontinued a relationship with a person or organization, we will consider resuming it only after significant, repeated actions over a long period of time, a major change in leadership, or other significant, costly changes that indicate a change in the future behavior of the person or organization. Some examples of actions that might change our partnership decision include: sincere and detailed apologies, making legal agreements to the benefit of injured parties, instituting new policies with credible enforcement systems, requiring new, tough, specific training for employees, making significant private charitable donations to related organizations, resignation or other consequences for responsible parties, signing non-disparagement agreements to the benefit of victims, monetary restitution of damages, hiring independent outside consultants and implementing their recommended changes, and dissolving harmful partnerships. In general, we prefer to see organizations and people supporting or following the lead of existing advocates and communities and the programs they create, rather than creating their own in-house programs or promoting their own employees' voices.

Reporting problems

If you believe that we are not living up to the standards and commitments we make in this policy, or would like to discuss concerns about one of our sponsors or partners with us, please email us at

CC BY-SA 3.0 Ada Initiative

Guest post: Annual Open Hardware Ada Fellowship – Call is Open!!

This is a guest post from Addie Wagenknecht and Alicia Gibb of the Open Hardware Association.

The Open Hardware Summit will take place on September 30th and October 1, 2014 in Rome as part of their Innovation Week. This is the first time the summit will take place outside of the US.

For the second year in the row, the Summit team is excited to offer up to five Open Hardware Fellowships which include a $1000 travel stipend and an evening out with select speakers and chairs of the Open Hardware Summit for woman and/or significantly female-identified members of the open source community.

The application can be filled out here. The Deadline to Apply is August 14th by 12pm EST, notifications will be sent out by August 18th.

The Ada Initiative, an organization supporting women in open tech and culture, will assist us with the selection process. By offering travel assistance again this year, the Open Source Hardware Association hopes we as a community can encourage more women to participate in future years of the Open Hardware Summit. We have many strong women leaders and speakers in our field and we personally want to continue the trend upward.

This is a crucial time in open source where we have the opportunity to shape the future of the whole field together.  We invite you to contact us about sponsoring the scholarships. We are just on the edge of what is possible, Let’s do this!

See you in Rome,

Addie Wagenknecht / @wheresaddie + Alicia Gibb / @pipx and all the women of the open hardware association / @ohsummit


A record-setting year for the Ada Initiative: 3 AdaCamps, 9 Ally Skills Workshops, standalone Impostor Syndrome Training, and more

Women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

2014 is a record-setting year for the Ada Initiative! Since our last progress report, we've run one AdaCamp and opened applications for two more AdaCamps. We've taught 9 Ally Skills Workshops to over 200 people and kicked off a train-the-trainers program. Our Impostor Syndrome Training is ready to launch as a standalone class open to the public. Conference anti-harassment policies continue to spread to new fields, and specific, enforceable community codes of conduct are catching on for the first time. Read the rest of our (short, we promise!) mid-year report for 2014.

AdaCamps around the world

AdaCampMost exciting of all, in 2014 we are holding three AdaCamps on three continents: AdaCamp Portland, AdaCamp Berlin, and AdaCamp Bangalore. This is a year of firsts for AdaCamp: first time we have three AdaCamps in one year, first AdaCamp in Europe, first AdaCamp in Asia, first AdaCamp in a non-primarily English-speaking country, and first time we had to close applications early because we ran out of space. AdaCamp Portland is already finished, and applications for AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore are open now (and filling up fast). We are tentatively planning four AdaCamps on three continents in 2015! Thank you to all of our sponsors who made these three AdaCamps possible: Google, Puppet Labs, Ada Initiative donors, Automattic, Mozilla, Red Hat, Simple, New Relic, Linux Foundation, Spotify, Stripe, Gitlab, OCLC, O'Reilly, Pinboard, and Python Software Foundation.

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

You'll notice that Ada Initiative donors are an AdaCamp sponsor this year. This is because AdaCamp is a money-losing program for us – corporate sponsorships and registration fees don't cover the full costs of the event. In our last progress report, we said we were planning to run a larger standard format conference called AdaCon. We were planning to do this mainly because it would be easier to raise enough corporate sponsorship to cover the full costs of the conference. However, it would also mean that we would hold the event somewhere that women in open tech/culture already have lots of resources – like the San Francisco Bay Area – and that would be expensive and difficult to get to for women outside that area. We decided to instead hold more, smaller AdaCamps around the globe so that we could reach the women who need AdaCamp the most. As a result, Ada Initiative donors are likely to be major sponsors of AdaCamp for the forseeable future, and we thought you should get the credit!

Taking Impostor Syndrome Training to the next level

Mary Gardiner speaking with upraised hand

CC-BY-SA Alejandro Linares Garcia

We ran our Impostor Syndrome Training at AdaCamp Portland with some new exercises and material and got rave reviews! Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren't actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud, and severely affects the career, health, and happiness of many women in open tech/culture. After more than a year of tinkering and refinements, our Impostor Syndrome Training is now ready to be run as a 2-hour standalone class. We plan to start teaching classes in late 2014, after our yearly fundraising drive wraps up.

Ally Skills Workshop goes viral

Woman explaining while a man listensThe Ally Skills Workshop (formerly Allies Workshop) has really taken off! So far this year we taught 9 Ally Skills Workshops to over 200 people, where we teach men how to support women in open tech/culture with simple, every day techniques. We teach Ally Skills Workshops at conferences, inside companies, and as a publicly available class. People love it: "This was an amazing class. Great scenarios, great conversations. I really enjoyed not only the guided discussion, but break out conversations with co-workers were hugely enlightening." And it works: "I've already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued."

We also started a new program to spread the Ally Skills Workshop even faster: the Ally Skills Workshop Train-the-trainers class. We trained over a dozen instructors who teach their own version of the Ally Skills Workshop in their workplace or community, using our CC BY-SA licensed materials. From a train-the-trainers client: "We've run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many "a-ha" moments." We have several more Ally Skills Workshops scheduled and are taking reservations for more. Contact us at to learn more.

Conference anti-harassment work spreads a wider net

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Fighting to stop conference harassment was our very first project, and three years later, it is still bearing fruit. Our conference anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct continue to spread to more and more fields, this year including library-related conferences, co-working spaces, and hackathons. We also continue to publish more specific advice and refinements, such as how to handle harassment swiftly and safely, how to decide when a person who has harassed someone can return to an event, and a collection of resources for creating inclusive events. Our plans for the rest of 2014 include introducing better guidelines for alcohol at events to signal that people are still expected to behave with respect to each other, even when drinking.

Community codes of conduct get real

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Community codes of conduct are getting more popular this year – and this time around, some of them are specific and enforceable! Tim Chevalier created this useful comparison of community codes of conduct showing which ones include three important elements: specific details about what isn't allowed, how to report violations, and information about how it will be enforced. We also continue to provide free consulting to companies and organizations on implementing codes of conduct in their communities as well as conference anti-harassment policies, working with over a dozen organizations and people this year alone. If you have questions about implementing a code of conduct or anti-harassment policy, email

The Ada Initiative is growing

If it seems like we accomplished a lot more in the last 6 months than usual, that's because it's true! We hired our third staff member, Suki McCoy, our Director of Operations, in November 2013, joining Executive Director Valerie Aurora and Deputy Executive Director Mary Gardiner. Mary was on maternity leave for six months after Suki joined, so we went from 1.5 full-time staff for the first three years of the Ada Initiative, to 2 full-time staff in the first half of 2014, and have been at 2.5 full-time staff since May 2014. The difference in what we can accomplish is astounding! We hope to continue growing during the next few years, until we can satisfy the full demand for AdaCamps, Ally Skills Workshops, and Impostor Syndrome Training. Thank you to all the Ada Initiative donors and sponsors who are a crucial part of this important work!

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Thank you from Suki, Mary, and Valerie!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of LinuxCon Chicago August 21

Two women smiling wearing green badge lanyards

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

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

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

Woman explaining while a man listens

Workshop discussion

"This was an amazing class. Great scenarios, great conversations. I really enjoyed not only the guided discussion, but break out conversations with co-workers were hugely enlightening. I'd love to have more honest and frank conversation along that line with [my colleagues]." – Joseph Bironas

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

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

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

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

Smiling woman

Workshop leader Valerie Aurora

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

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

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

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

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

Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

Welcoming Sarah Sharp and Selena Deckelmann to our advisory board!

The Ada Initiative is glad to welcome a new member and a returning member to our advisory board, which gives us feedback on planned projects and our overall mission and strategy:

Photograph of Sarah SharpSarah Sharp is a Linux software developer in Intel's Open Source Technology Center, where she works on improving graphics for Intel Chromebooks.  Sarah is best known for creating the Linux kernel xHCI driver, which was the first released software stack for USB 3.0.  Sarah serves on the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board and is involved with the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) as the coordinator for the Linux kernel OPW internships. You can find her on twitter as @sarahsharp, or read her blog.

Sarah joins several other OPW organizers and volunteers — Marina Zhurakhinskaya, Karen Sandler, Liz Henry and Sumana Harihareswara — as an advisor to the Ada Initiative. We're looking forward to continuing to work with members of this key project increasing women's participation in open source software.

Photograph of Selena Deckelmann

Selena Deckelmann is returning as an advisor after a year's break; we encourage all our volunteers to regularly review their commitment to us and take time away as needed, and we're glad to have Selena as our first returning advisor. Selena is a major contributor to PostgreSQL and a data architect at Mozilla. She’s been involved with free and open source software since 1995 and began running conferences for PostgreSQL in 2007. She's the founder of several groups and events, including PyLadiesPDXOpen Source Bridge and Postgres Open, and a regular international speaker. You can find her on twitter (@selenamarie) and on her blog.

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

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

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

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

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

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors who made AdaCamp Portland possible:
Google, Puppet Labs, Ada Initiative donors, Automattic, Mozilla, Red Hat, Simple, New Relic, Linux Foundation, Spotify, Stripe, Gitlab, OCLC, O'Reilly, Pinboard, and Python.

Impact of AdaCamp Portland

AdaCamp logo

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

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

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

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

About the attendees

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

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

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

Travel scholarships

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

What we did

Main track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ally Skills track

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

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

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

Social events

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

Puppet Labs shirts from AdaCamp reception

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

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

Reports from AdaCampers

Several AdaCampers wrote publicly about their experiences at the event:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conference resources

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

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

Future AdaCamps

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

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

Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture. Contact us at for more information about becoming a sponsor.

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

Handling harassment incidents swiftly and safely

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

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

But neither of these models prioritise safety from harassment.

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

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

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

The management model of harassment handling is that:

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

Further reading

Applications open for AdaCamp Berlin and AdaCamp Bangalore

Two women smiling wearing green badge lanyards

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia and other wiki-related projects, open knowledge and education, open government and open data, open hardware and appropriate technology, library technology, creative fan culture, remix culture, translation/localization/internationalization, and more. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, share skills, discuss problems with open tech/culture communities that affect women, and find ways to address them. Learn more about previous AdaCamps here.

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

Apply to AdaCamp Berlin here

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

Apply to AdaCamp Bangalore here

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

About AdaCamp


AdaCamp 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.


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 for more information.


If you have any questions, please email us at

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

Welcoming Ellen Spertus to our advisory board!

The Ada Initiative loves working with our advisory board, which gives us feedback on planned projects and our overall mission and strategy, and we're always delighted to welcome new members.

Photograph of Ellen Spertus

We've recently been joined by a new member: Ellen Spertus is a professor of computer science at Mills College and a senior research scientist at Google.

At Google, Ellen has been a primary contributor to the App Inventor and Blockly open source projects and is currently working with Highlights in her career-long focus on gender equity in computer science include her widely distributed 1991 report Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?; her joining the faculty of a women's college in 1998, where she helps lead reentry and interdisciplinary programs in computer science for students of all genders; and her years of work on gender-neutral software to teach computer programming. Ellen also has substantial non-profit experience, having served on the boards of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Stop Prisoner Rape (now Just Detention International), and the Human Rights Defense Center. You can find her on Twitter at @ellenspertus.

Ada Initiative founders Valerie and Mary both took early inspiration from "Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?" and are looking forward to working with Ellen, who has been an activist for women in technology for so long.

Thank you to two of our former advisors: Denise Paolucci and Sarah Stierch, for your immense help and support during your time as Ada Initiative advisors!