The Ada Initiative in September 2012: Ada's Angels and anti-harassment policy improvements

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The Ada Initiative in September: fundraising and anti-harassment policy improvements

The Ada Initiative launched a campaign in September seeking donor support to continue our policy work, launch future AdaCamps, and brand new programs supporting women in open technology and culture. We’re also pleased to announce an addendum to our sample anti-harassment policies for women-friendly discussion of sex and porn, and the forthcoming Ada’s Advice website.

To all our donors and supporters: thank you for your support in September, making all this possible!

In September’s news

Ada’s Angels campaign

At the Ada Initiative, we have a vision: A world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open source software, open data, and open culture. We want women writing free software, women editing Wikipedia, women creating the Internet and women shaping the future of global society.

Donation progress bar: donate now

Help us make this vision a reality. We need your support: individual donors comprise the majority of the Ada Initiative’s funding. Support the Ada Initiative now and get the first ever Ada Initiative t-shirt! This limited edition shirt is available to the first 1000 donors at the Ada’s Angel level.

Women-friendly discussion of sex and porn

We expanded on our anti-harassment work in September with the first release of an addendum to the policy when sex and porn are on-topic for conferences. Discussion of pornography and sex in the context of most open technology and culture discussions is off-putting to women and LGBTQ people of any gender: Most pornography shown in this situation assumes that the audience is male and heterosexual, and sends the message that everyone who is not a heterosexual man is not the intended audience. Also, shifting people’s minds towards sex often triggers people to view women as sexual objects, in a context in which women want to be treated as humans with a shared interest.

But showing pornography and talking about sex in public are not necessarily a “women not wanted” sign. Women are using open tech/culture to create erotica by and for women, and to have open discussions about sexuality in general.

The Ada Initiative’s own anti-harassment policy therefore includes an exception for on-topic respectful discussions that have appropriate warnings. If you’d like to comment on our exception or on this topic, please do so on our blog post about on-topic discussions of sex and porn.

Coming soon: Ada’s Advice

Behind the scenes, we’ve been working on the first edition of Ada’s Advice, a collection of effective strategies for supporting women in open technology and culture. Our first release will include advice for employers, colleagues and event organizers who want to reach out to women for hiring, to participate in events, or to make shared workspaces safer for women.

Mary’s illness

Mary Gardiner

Ada Initiative director of operations Mary Gardiner was unexpectedly ill in September, spending nearly a week in hospital and another week recovering. She’s back on board with the Ada Initiative now, but still trying to work up the energy to get back on her bike.

One of the things we’ve realized following Mary’s illness is that as a very small organization (1.6 full-time staff members) we are very vulnerable to illness and misadventure in our founders. Once we have a stable long-term funding base, we are hoping to be less vulnerable to loss of Valerie or Mary for a short time!

Thank you Selena!

Ada Initiative advisor Selena Deckelmann worked as our Consulting Director of Development from July until the end of September, helping us establish a long term fundraising plan. One of Selena’s key insights was how important individual donors are to the Ada Initiative. She went on to help us design the Ada’s Angel fundraising campaign around individual donors. Thank you so much Selena for your insights and plans, we’re looking forward to putting them into practice.

From September 24 onwards, Selena has moved into a full-time position for Mozilla, working on databases with the WebTools team. Congratulations Selena! Selena is continuing as a volunteer on the Ada Initiative advisory board.

Ada Initiative advisors in the news

Ada Initiative board member and advisor Rachel Chalmers keynoted the Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit on September 19:

Billions of people have already connected to the Internet via computers and mobile devices, tapping saturated networks to connect and communicate. What happens when everyday objects start communicating as well? In this presentation, we’ll look at how this will affect IT, as well as the benefits that the ‘Internet of everything’ brings with it, and the challenge of managing the infrastructure that supports these ‘smart’ devices.

Advisor Liz Henry was announced as the keynote speaker for hacker conference Kiwicon 6, to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, 17–18 November.

Selena Deckelmann will be giving a plenary address on Education vs. Training at the Large Installation System Administration conference (LISA ’12) in San Diego in December:

System administration principles are typically not taught at universities, where “education” (concepts and frameworks) is valued over “training” (explicit instruction of tasks). It’s true that system administration courses and a couple degree programs exist—but they are the exception rather than the rule. The state of related curriculum in K–12 education is even more dire.

The belief that education and training are separate is harmful. It’s helped make computer science educators hostile to efforts to adopt system administration curriculum and a CS degree largely irrelevant when hiring web developers.

Advisor Sarah Stierch was a Guest Programme Planner for the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki September 17–22. She facilitated a series of lightning talks about what open technology and culture organizations are doing to engage more women and hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon geared towards women.

Upcoming events for women in open technology and culture

See our calendar for a full listing, and submit any additional events to

Sponsorship opportunities

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Contact for larger sponsorship packages.