During the Seed 100 campaign, several of our advisors have written about promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture, and the Ada Initiative and our work specifically, is important to them. We’re grateful to our Seed 100 donors so far for helping us do the work our advisors write about here. Donate today to help fund this crucial work.
In addition to becoming a Difference Engineer, Mitchell Baker wrote about the Ada Initiative as one strategy for increasing women’s participation:
The number of women participating in open technologies is lower than in technical fields in general. Why is this and what can we do about it? One response is to support the The Ada Initiative, a new effort formed by Mary Gardiner and [Valerie] Aurora, two women with deep technical experience in open source projects and a commitment to making environments where other women are more likely to be successful.
Kirrily Robert spoke about her own experiences as a volunteer activist for women in open source and how useful it is to have paid advocates for women:
… I knew that no matter how positive my spin, people would take issue with what I said, and that I could expect negativity, trolls, and harassment for my pains. I knew, too, that I would undoubtedly burn out, but that I could probably manage a year of being the go-to woman on the subject before I had to withdraw for my own sanity…
The Ada Initiative do not charge for consulting on these issues. However, theyre not a volunteer organisation. They know, as I do, that volunteer activists burn out quickly, as they try to balance activism (and dealing with the harassment and abuse the receive for that activism) with their jobs as software engineers, sysadmins, etc. Instead, the Ada Initiative employs full time staff (read their bios) who can devote themselves to projects that require more time and energy than busy volunteers usually have available.
NóirÃn Plunkett wrote of the importance of Valerie’s work on the conference anti-harassment policy:
And reasonable people turned up, saying they couldnt believe that this kind of thing still happens, either the assault or the violent responses. Many of them just had no idea how to react to this.
Luckily, I have a strong group of awesome and supportive friends. One of them, Valerie Aurora, spearheaded the writing of a Conference Anti-Harassment Policy that was soon adopted by a variety of conferences and events.
Via Dan Kusnetzky, Rachel Chalmers wrote more about burnout of volunteer activists:
Right now [the Ada Initiative is] fundraising so that [Valerie] and Mary can be paid for the work they do. It’s important that they earn a salary, because there’s a long, sad history of women volunteering to try to make open source culture less hostile to women, and burning out in about two years.