85% of JSConf US participants donate to support women in open tech/culture

JS community logoToday, the organizers of JSConf US 2013, a popular Javascript conference, announced a donation of $5000 to us here at the Ada Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to women in open source software and similar communities. We are grateful for the $5000 donation, and excited about the work we’ll be able to do with it, but we are more excited by this number:

85% of participants in JSConf US donated $10 of their own money to support women in open tech/culture.

This is an amazing number, and shows broad support for the goal of increasing the participation of women in the Javascript community!

In addition to the money donated by JSConf US attendees, the JSConf organizers donated personally to bring the total to $5000. The organizers also consulted the Ada Initiative on how to increase the diversity of speakers and participants at the conference.

The silent majority speaks

One reason we founded the Ada Initiative was a belief that the majority of people in the open source community wanted more women involved in open source, but didn’t know how to make their voices heard. The JSConf donation system is one way to give that often invisible majority a voice. In this case, 85% of the people who attend JSConf US were able to say that they would rather give their $10 to a non-profit supporting women in open tech/culture than uncheck a box and keep it for themselves. Without the creativity and support of the JSConf US organizers, we might never have known that 85% of the people at this conference supported women in open tech/culture at this level.

Conferences as agents of social change

Almost imperceptibly, open tech/culture conferences have gradually become agents of social change. Conference organizers and participants alike have realized this simple truth: Either we are supporting the status quo by doing things the “normal” way, or we’re trying to change it by consciously making better decisions. No matter which way we go, we’re still making a choice.

Many people joined the open tech/culture movement to make the world a better place. So it’s no surprise that many open tech/culture conferences are making their choices in favor of social justice: serving environmentally responsible food, cutting down on wasteful schwag, reducing unconscious bias in favor of white male participants, and now partnering with and donating to charitable organizations that support the community’s goals. JSConf US, and the Javascript community in general, are at the forefront of this change in the way open tech/culture conferences interact with their communities and the world as a whole.

A mandate for diversity and equality in the Javascript community

If 85% of JSConf US attendees support women in open tech/culture, that’s a strong argument for a similar level of support in the Javascript community as a whole. If you’re part of this community, you may have thought about speaking up in favor of including women or increasing diversity in other ways but kept quiet because you thought you were in the minority. If that’s the case, this is your signal, both to speak up in the future, and to support people who speak up as well. Consider this an encouragement to reply with a “+1” to a statement you agree with, or a “I disagree entirely,” to an opinion that doesn’t reflect your view of the community. Learn more about how to support women in your community as an ally through the Allies Workshop.

More about JSConf

Unfortunately, JSConf US 2013 is already completely sold out, so you won’t be able to join them this year at a Florida resort (!!!). However, you can still sign up for upcoming JSConfs and related events around the world (in Australia, Singapore, and Europe, to name just a few).

More about the JSConf family of conferences, in the words of the JSConf organizers:

JSConf is a unique conference organization, because we aren’t really a conference organization at all. We are a very loose federation of developers who share the same general idea about how a technical conference should be held. We don’t believe that one model or process fits all communities, in fact we are big advocates of locally run events driven by passionate individuals dedicated to the community. We make events that aren’t from the standard conference playbook because we believe you (attendees, speakers, and sponsors) deserve more than that. We focus on two things, pushing the boundaries of what is thought to be conceivable with JS and providing exceptional human social activities that encourage community and friendship building. That sets the general tone for each of our events and from there, local individuals from each region drive the conference to its own incredible level of excellence. Our mission is to make the technology community better, more diverse, and more human; in short, we just want to make things better. JSConf does not focus on what is popular or cool now, but on topics that define and revolutionize the following year of technology. We have been the launching point for some of the most revolutionary products, services, and technologies on the web. We have also been the inspiration point and support base for a wide range of conferences beyond the “JSConf” name, but still retain the very essence of what makes JSConf special.

The Ada Initiative thanks the JSConf organizers again for making this generous donation possible, and for showing the depth of support for women in open tech/culture in the Javascript community!

Want to partner with the Ada Initiative on a similar or different project? Contact us at contact@adainitiative.org and find out how we can work together.