AdaCamp DC preliminary report

AdaCamp DC, the second conference for women in open technology and culture, wrapped up on Wednesday. About 100 people attended, who lived in at least 10 countries, including Japan, India, Myanmar, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Australia, the UK, Canada, and the US. Ages ranged from 18 years old to over 50. Their open tech/culture fields included Python workshops, soft circuits, fan fiction, Linux, open geographical information, open data, open courseware, and Wikipedia and related projects. Attendees were volunteers, professionals, students, hobbyists, and academics, and came from the government, large corporations, non-profits, volunteer communities, small businesses, and educational institutions. We’re very pleased with the diversity of our attendees.

Selena Deckelmann and Rebecca Refford at AdaCamp DC

Selena Deckelmann and Rebecca Refford at AdaCamp DC. (c) Máirín Duffy CC-BY-SA

We ran over 65 sessions over 2 days. Session topics included Hands on Hacking, Geek Moms, Women Editing Wikipedia, Burnout and Lifehacking, Fandom, Feminism & Social Change, Soft Circuits, Job Seeker/We’re Hiring!, and Feminist Hackathons, to name just a few. In total, over 40 of the sessions were documented on PiratePad.

The Impostor Syndrome session was so popular that it ran in at least three separate sessions. One attendee said, “I had no idea how prevalent imposter syndrome was among women. It was mind-blowing to see these movers and shakers in our industry relate to feeling unaccomplished. When the entire room raised their hands to declare war on this phenomenon, I was truly moved. I might have come alone… but I left with an army.”

One of the most popular sessions was the Python Beginners Workshop in which several attendees learned to program for the first time. “It is hard to do workshops at un-conferences, but you can’t put a price on getting someone in front of a terminal and writing a new line of code. It’s empowering to enable the success of another human being,” said Connie Berardi. Leslie Birch said, “I’m leaving with new tools like IRC, bug trackers and mentor lists. I have a new found desire to reach out to other women that identify as ‘geek’, ‘feminist’ or both.”

Joseph Reagle and Christine Spang in discussion at AdaCamp DC

Joseph Reagle and Christine Spang in discussion at AdaCamp DC. (c) Máirín Duffy CC-BY-SA

One popular feature of AdaCamp was the “Wall of Compliments.” The idea is to combat Impostor’s Syndrome and increase everyone’s enjoyment of the conference by writing compliments on sticky notes and adding them to a wall. Other attendees “take a compliment” and either keep them or give them to other people to wear on their badges.

Wall of compliments at AdaCamp DC

Wall of compliments at AdaCamp DC (c) Máirín Duffy CC-BY-SA

Finally, AdaCamp DC got a lot of compliments on the conference food. Rebecca Garcia tweets, “#AdaCampDC You are spoiling us! First Ethiopian food now Lebanese food? :) Best conference food ever.” Sisi Wei writes, “Ethiopian food for lunch? #adacampdc and @adainitiative are putting other conferences’s cuisines to shame.” Remember, bad conference food is a choice, not a requirement!

Thank you to everyone who helped make AdaCamp DC a success, starting with our conference organizers, Caroline Simard, Deb Nicholson, Kellie Brownell, Noírín Shirley, Sarah Stierch, Katie Bechtold, and Denise Paolucci. Thanks especially to Sarah Stierch for organizing the conference dinners, writing a dining guide for DC, helping arrange photography, and spreading the word about AdaCamp DC and the various travel scholarships available to AdaCamp DC attendees. Selena Deckelmann also helped arrange photography, organized the sessions, and gave the organizers general assistance. Gayle Karen Young graciously offered to facilitate our feedback sessions and offered various organizational resources. Katie Bechtold was our eyes and hands on the ground in Washington, DC. We thank all of our day-of volunteers who ran registration and helped with setup and cleanup. Finally, we thank everyone who attended AdaCamp DC!

The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.