AdaCamp is an unconference for people interested in supporting women in open technology and culture, organized by the Ada Initiative. The first AdaCamp was held on January 14, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. “Adacamp was the first event of the Ada Initiative, and based on the calibre of the attendees, the quality of conversations, the extent of networking, and the amount that I learnt, I know I cant wait til the next one,” said attendee Naomi C..AdaCamp Melbourne brought together people interested in issues facing women in open technology and culture, to share their experiences and develop ways to support and promote women. People attended from all over open tech/culture: open source, libraries, open data, community radio, fan culture, Wikipedia, wikis, maker culture, researchers studying these topics, and more. Overall, the conference was rated a great success by the attendees, who asked that future AdaCamps to be two days long instead of just one.
AdaCamp Melbourne organization and topics
AdaCamp Melbourne was a one day unconference” in which the attendees decide what to discuss. This AdaCamp had 21 sessions across 7 time slots, as well as a group opening at the beginning of the day and a curated feedback session at the end of the day. The topics included fighting Impostor Syndrome, valuing more diverse skills when hiring in IT, sharing successful tactics for encouraging women from different areas of open “stuff,” preventing volunteer burnout, getting women involved in open source, creating mothering and caring friendly spaces, and teaching feminism in geek communities. The day ended with a Girl Geek Dinner open to all.
The most important accomplishment of AdaCamp was connecting people from different areas of open technology and culture so that they can share best practices and support each other. “AdaCamp stood out for me from other conferences because everyone participated and seemed to really want to go beyond the conference and drive things out in the real world,” commented attendee Cobi Smith. We shared what works for supporting women in one field of open tech/culture with people in other fields. Many people felt validated, energized, and inspired to continue their work as a result of AdaCamp. Given the high burnout rate for women in open tech/culture, this is no small feat.
Several sessions produced new or improved documentation, often hosted on the Geek Feminism wiki: fighting Impostor Syndrome, valuing diverse skills and women-oriented hiring, and preventing volunteer burnout. We also learned more about each other’s communities, including success stories like the majority female development community behind open source software project Dreamwidth and challenges facing librarians fighting for open access to knowledge.
The AdaCamp target audience is people with experience and education in the area of supporting women in open technology and culture. We asked that people interested in attending send an application outlining their experience and interest in both feminism and open technology and culture, and appointed a program committee to review applications. We gave extra points for a history of collaboration, leadership, and enthusiasm. As attendee Selena Deckelmann wrote, “We all shared a context of feminism. With that point settled, it made getting into the depths of many other conversations much easier and interesting.”
The result was a full house of 33 attendees of incredibly high caliber who shared ideals of equality opportunity for women and openness of software and data. They included:
- Karen Sandler, executive director of the GNOME Foundation
- Selena Deckelmann, PostgreSQL developer and founder of Open Source Bridge
- Sky Croeser, Lecturer on Internet Studies at Curtin University and co-founder of the Bluestocking Institute
- Brianna Laugher, Information Technology Officer at Bureau of Meteorology and co-founder/former President of Wikimedia Australia
- Cobi Smith, Science in society facilitator, Royal Institution of Australia
- Georgia Webster, RRR community radio
- Sam Searle, Data Management Coordinator at Monash University Library
- Athena Yao, Dreamwidth developer
- Aimee Whitcroft, founder of Sciblogs and Wellington Nerd Nite
- Brenda Moon, MakeHackVoid
And many more, including Ada Initiative co-founders Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner. Several people who were invited couldn’t come due to conflicting obligations and many more expressed great interest in attending but could not afford to travel to Melbourne. Thanks to our generous sponsors, we were able to provide limited travel grants to several participants. We expect that many more people will be able to attend an AdaCamp in North America with longer notice and more generous travel grants.
We interviewed by press outlets about AdaCamp. Coverage of AdaCamp included:
AdaCamp aims to boost women’s participation in open tech
Breaking down the gender divide in open source and open culture
Ada Initiative to hold first camp in Melbourne
AdaCamp set to kick off in Melbourne
Several attendees wrote blog posts (and recorded one podcast) about their experience at AdaCamp:
Based on the success of the first AdaCamp, the Ada Initiative will continue holding AdaCamps in different areas of the world. Our next AdaCamp is tentatively scheduled to be held in July 2012 in Washington D.C., prior to the global Wikimania conference for Wikipedia and related projects. We expect a lot of overlap between attendees of Wikimania and AdaCamp and encourage people to attend both conferences.
Want to attend the next AdaCamp?
To get notified when applications open, watch this blog, our announcement email list, or our Twitter account. We are primarily looking for people with a track record of participating in open technology and culture, supporting women in these areas, and contributing positively to discussions. We strongly encourage people to nominate or suggest other people for attending AdaCamp, especially people with unique experience or knowledge. We will have a number of modest travel grants available so that a greater variety of people can attend.
Sponsoring AdaCamp is an excellent way to show your organization’s commitment to bringing more women into open source, Wikipedia, and other other areas of open technology and culture. AdaCamp sponsors benefit from positive publicity, improved recruiting opportunities, and community good will. Sponsors of AdaCamp Melbourne received credit on the AdaCamp Melbourne web page, at the opening and closing sessions, and in AdaCamp announcements. We are considering new sponsor benefits for the next AdaCamp, including reserved attendance slots and access to attendees outside conference hours. Web sites for specific AdaCamps (with sponsor logo and information) will remain available after the event concludes. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on sponsorship at any level.
Thank you to our sponsors: Google Australia, Wikimedia Australia, Linux Australia, and Atlassian; to Alex Bayley for venue research and website content; to Danielle Madeley and Brianna Laugher for catering; and to the AdaCamp participants for making the event a success.