Continue supporting women in open technology and culture

Two women hugging and laughing

Co-founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora

Between 2011 and 2015 the Ada Initiative supported women in open technology and culture through activities such as producing codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies, advocating for gender diversity and teaching ally skills.

The Ada Initiative closed in October 2015 but we encourage you to continue supporting women in open technology and culture by continuing and building on the Ada Initiative’s work. Much of our work remains available on and is freely licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike so that it can be adapted and improved by you and your community.

Ally Skills Workshop

Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

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.

Teaching materials for the Ally Skills Workshop are available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. It is prevalent among women in open tech/culture, many of whom have been socialised to value other’s opinion of their work above their own, and to do things “by the book.” Impostor syndrome is a common reaction to doing publicly visible and publicly criticised work like that done in open technology and culture.

The Overcoming Impostor Syndrome class was created by the Ada Initiative to teach women in open technology and culture how to overcome Impostor Syndrome. While this class is designed for women in open technology and culture, it can be adapted for any group that is the target of oppression.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome teaching materials are available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence. You can also find other public materials on Impostor Syndrome prepared by our community, such as exercises and videos, on the Overcoming Impostor Syndrome page.

Conference anti-harassment

Inspired by multiple reports of groping, sexual assault, and pornography at open tech/culture conferences, the Ada Initiative co-founders helped write and promote an example conference anti-harassment policy for modification and reuse by conference organizers. Since the publication of the example anti-harassment policy in late 2010, hundreds of conferences have adopted an anti-harassment policy and several organizations have adopted a policy for all their events.

We encourage all open technology and culture events to review our anti-harassment materials and adapt our freely reusable anti-harassment policy for their event. We encourage community members to refuse to attend or speak at events that do not have an anti-harassment policy.

Events for women in open technology and culture

a group of AdaCamp Bangalore attendees

AdaCamp Bangalore attendees in 2014

AdaCamp was a two-day unconference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture, including 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. Seven AdaCamps were run by the Ada Initiative from 2012 to 2015.

The Ada Initiative is happy to share the AdaCamp Toolkit, licenced Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike, which gives people the tools they need to run events similar to AdaCamp. It includes more than 20 event resources, including sample website content; a guide to managing challenging topics at a feminist unconference; and a guide to inclusive catering.


The Ada Initiative wrote extensively on issues for women in open technology and culture, particularly harassment. Much of our best writing is licensed Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike for you to adapt to your own community and republish.

Other ways to support women in open technology and culture

  • Support women and other oppressed people entering your community by impostor syndrome-proofing it: documenting your norms, providing mentoring for newcomers, and encouraging a supportive style of collaboration.
  • Suggest women or members of underrepresented groups to be speakers and panelists at events you attend
  • Support Outreachy with mentorship, sponsorship, or donation
  • Support Black Girls Code and similar organizations by donating or volunteering
  • Join or donate to feminist hackerspaces
  • Ask your employer to support the Recurse Center
  • Ask your employer to sponsor a feminist event for women in an open technology and culture field
  • Ask your employer to review their hiring process and their HR practices to support employees who are women or members of other underrepresented groups
  • Ask your employer to run unconscious bias training
  • Ask your employer to only sponsor events with anti-harassment policies
  • Ask events you attend to adopt inclusive practices such as access lanes, childcare and travel grants
  • Push the Overton Window by advocating for “extreme” positions supporting women in open technology and culture (remember: once, conference anti-harassment policies were extreme)
  • Start your own brand — start your own company or activist group making change for women in open technology and culture