The Ada Initiative in October 2012: building friendlier events and communities for women with your help!

Help the Ada Initiative!

Thank you to our generous donors and sponsors, who are helping with the Ada Initiative’s work every day! Make a difference for women in open tech and culture: support us by making a donation or becoming a sponsor today!

Launched: conference booklet template designed to welcome women

Organizing a conference is a lot of work, and one of the least pleasant tasks is writing the program booklet. The Ada Initiative wrote the best program booklet we knew how for AdaCamp DC, with lots of help from the Geek Feminism Wiki, and in October we released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license, making it into a reusable template including all the information you’ll need for your conference. You are welcome to reuse it for your conference!

Anti-harassment: why starting with conferences makes sense

We at the Ada Initiative know that the abysmal numbers of women in open technology and culture (2% of open source software, 9% in Wikipedia) are not caused by harassment of women at conferences alone. Women are staying out of open technology and culture for hundreds of reasons, some more obvious than others.

So why have we spent so much time working with the community to make conferences friendlier to women? It’s simple: Working for the end of assault and harassment of women at conferences is both the right thing to do in itself, and also a good way to kick off serious discussion (and change) about how women are treated in open tech/culture communities. Valerie Aurora explains why this makes sense as a first step: How stopping conference harassment changes open/tech communities at all levels.

Find out what BruCON, the first security conference to accept our challenge to adopt an anti-harassment policy, feels about the effect on their conference culture: “Having a policy didn’t change the overall atmosphere of the conference AT ALL! If anything, I would say that it helped to create awareness of the issue and allowed everybody to discuss it.”

What do you do when there’s a harassment report at your conference?

Unfortunately, having an anti-harassment policy does not mean harassment won’t occur at your event! The Ada Initiative has helped several conferences respond to harassment reports at their event, and we’ve drawn our experiences together into a wiki page: Responding to harassment reports. Our tips include ways to collect reports, respond quickly, and communicate effectively with your community afterwards, increasing the safety of everyone at your event. Leading open source conference PyCon US has already adopted response guidelines based on our work.

In addition, find out why you should have a public anti-harassment policy rather than a secret one: people use a published policy to judge whether to attend a conference, whether to report harassment, whether to engage in harassing behavior themselves, and whether they can safely challenge harassing behavior. For conference organizers, a published policy is a tool to improve their conferences’ image, increase attendance, reduce the chance of harassment, and increase the likelihood they will hear about harassment.

Rape discussion in open source communities

Valerie Aurora documented minimising of rape statistics in the Linux community, suggesting how to react to community leaders who perpetrate community atmospheres that are hostile to women:

  • Reply publicly online and disagree with the person’s opinions
  • Publicly advocate adopting specific, enforceable codes of conduct in your community’s online spaces
  • Send email to organizers of conferences expressing your discomfort with being in the same physical location as someone who condones assault
  • As event organizers, do not invite the person to speak or attend your event
  • As administrators of mailing lists, IRC servers, and blog aggregators, design and adopt policies governing behavior

Courtney Stanton: how to get more women in your technical speaker line-up

Courtney Stanton, tireless activist to increase women’s participation in the computer gaming industry and audience, organized a 2011 game conference No Show, which had 50% women speakers. She wrote up her techniques for attracting qualified women speakers to conferences, which were recently successfully reused by a programming conference, JS Conf EU to get 25% women speakers. The Ada Initiative interviewed Courtney in October:

Courtney: Assuming that [conference organizers are] actually doing it to add value to the industry/community/etc, then I think on some level they know [speaker diversity is] necessary work. Otherwise, you end up with a narrower and narrower slice on stage (and in the audience) of who your community really is, and that way is death.

Successful Ada’s Angels campaign

Our generous donors in September and October helped make our vision — a world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open source software, open data, and open culture — a reality. Thanks to you, there will be more women writing free software, more women editing Wikipedia, more women Internet infrastructure and more women shaping the future of global society.

Donation progress bar: donate now

If you were unable to give in this drive, the Ada Initiative still needs your support to advocate for women in open technology and culture and we welcome your crucial donations year-round!

Ada Lovelace Day, October 16

Ada Lovelace Day is a project launched by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009, to combat women’s invisibility by highlighting heroines in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ada Lovelace Day is independent of the Ada Initiative, but both are named for Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and the world’s first computer programmer, and our missions are complementary.

This year the Ada Initiative held an Ada Lovelace Day party in San Francisco for Ada Lovelace Day participants and our supporters, jointly hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. Thank you for joining us!

Individual staff and advisors also took part, with Valerie Aurora writing a profile of Ada Lovelace herself, and observing how minimisation of her work is typical of representations of women’s work in men’s fields; Mary Gardiner writing profiles of Australian women Else Shepherd, leading electrical engineer and Marita Cheng, Robogals founder; and Danielle Madeley profiling her colleague, physicist Elaine Miles. Danni was herself featured on the Australian Bureau of Meterology’s Facebook page for the day.

Upcoming events for women in open technology and culture

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

New sponsors in October

Many new sponsors joined us in our mission to support women in open technology and culture as part of the Ada’s Angels donation campaign! We’d especially like to welcome our first individual donors who have become Bronze sponsors, Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson, who contributed a $10,000 matching donation to the Ada’s Angel campaign!

Other new sponsors generously supporting us in October were:

  1. new Venture Philanthropist sponsor the Linux Foundation;
  2. Microsoft‘s employee gift-matching program, which reached Venture Philanthropist sponsorship status by matching Microsoft employees dollar for dollar;
  3. VirtuStream, an enterprise cloud provider, a new Contributing sponsor;
  4. the Red Hat employee gift matching program, which reached Contributing sponsor status by matching employee donations; and
  5. PalominoDB, a woman-owned database consulting company, also joining us as a Contributing sponsor.

Sponsorship opportunities

Instant sponsorship of the Ada Initiative is available through our Venture Philanthropist sponsorship program for sponsorship amounts between $2000 and $9999 (USD) with a minimum of hassle. Other donations of $500 or more are eligible for Supporting Sponsor recognition.

Contact for larger sponsorship packages.