AdaCamp, Github giveaways, feminist hacker lounges, and more: Progress in 2013

Women smiling

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

2012 was a tipping point for women in open technology and culture. In 2013 the Ada Initiative has worked hard to build on that momentum, through the AdaCamp conference, Impostor Syndrome training, workshops, speeches, interviews in the mainstream media, and more. With your help, we’re continuing to make a difference for women in open technology and culture. Thank you so much for your support of our work!

Keep reading for a full report on our progress in 2013 so far. It’s a little TL;DR so we will repost each section separately throughout the coming week.

AdaCamp and other Ada Initiative events
Impostor Syndrome Training (new)
Workshops and community-building for allies
Supporting women open source developers (new)
Community campaigns (new)
Press appearances and speaking engagements
New Ada Initiative supporters

AdaCamp and other Ada Initiative events

Photograph of Jen Mei Wu, seated

AdaCamper Jen Mei Wu, photo by Sarah Sharp

In June, the Ada Initiative ran AdaCamp San Francisco, the third AdaCamp bringing women and their allies in open technology and culture together to talk about issues and problems women face and about how to solve them. AdaCamp continues to be our most popular and effective program for recruiting and retaining women in open tech/culture, which is why we invest about 3 months of staff time on each AdaCamp. For example, 85% of attendees surveyed said that AdaCamp San Francisco increased their commitment to open tech/culture!

AdaCamp San Francisco was our largest AdaCamp to date, double the size of AdaCamp DC in July 2012, with about 200 attendees. It was the first AdaCamp to feature a dedicated one-day allies track for people of any gender. To increase the diversity of the event we offered travel scholarships to attendees from countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, India and Cambodia. AdaCamp is an unconference, and attendee-led sessions included: a Likeability Paradox discussion; diversity beyond gender, depression in activists, womyn of color, job seeking and career advice, and expressing femininity in technical spaces. We also incorporated Impostor Syndrome training and a make-a-thon and hackfest for the first time. Find out more about AdaCamp in our AdaCamp SF final report!

Netha Hussain explains the long-term impact of AdaCamp on attendees, 8 months after AdaCamp DC:

Netha Hussain

Netha Hussain

While traveling back to India, I was deeply satisfied. I had too many projects in mind, and the potential to work towards accomplishing them – Ada Camp put me in touch with the right people and right resources to get me started. Listening to the success stories of other participants helped me overcome my initial inertia, and stimulated me to work hard towards increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects.

pycon_hacker_loungeIn March we ran a smaller event, the first Ada Initiative feminist hacker lounge, at PyCon US in Santa Clara. The feminist lounge was a casual space in the exhibition hall, sharing a beanbag hangout space with PyLadies, and hosting sessions including “Impostor Syndrome Check-in” and “Hackerspaces: What’s Working, What’s Not?” We enjoyed hosting this home base for women at the conference and have suggestions for how you can do it too!

What’s next? AdaCamp brings together so many women interested in working in and changing the open tech and culture space. AdaCamp is going to remain a core part of the Ada Initiative’s work. We are hoping to work with dedicated event staff on future AdaCamps and are considering host cities for AdaCamps in 2014 and 2015. We will also publish a collection of event advice, for running events that are open, accessible and welcoming to women in open tech and culture.

Impostor Syndrome Training

Women in open tech/culture

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

Ada Initiative staff and volunteers have also launched Impostor Syndrome training, presenting on techniques that allow women and others to feel appropriately confident in their work in the face of the often publicly critical culture in open technology and culture. Denise Paolucci took lessons from AdaCamp DC’s several Impostor Syndrome sessions and presented them at, Open Source Bridge, and OSCON, with the Ada Initiative providing a captioned and transcribed version of the talk. Leigh Honeywell additionally created a values exercise to combat stereotype threat and Impostor Syndrome, which we used at AdaCamp San Francisco.

What’s next? We will continue to teach about and hold sessions on Impostor Syndrome at AdaCamps and add to our resources as we go.

Workshops and community-building for allies

Valerie Aurora speaking at AdaCamp DC

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

In 2013, we expanded our work educating and supporting allies – people who support women in open tech/culture but aren’t women themselves. The Ada Initiative Allies Workshop focuses on what individual people can do to make their workplace or community a better, more positive place for women. We started the Allies Workshop program in 2011 and have continued to improve and grow it every year. The Allies Workshop has been run three times in 2013 so far: at Everyone Hacks San Francisco, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Allies Track of AdaCamp San Francisco. We recently posted a professionally recorded and captioned video of the Allies Workshop.

This year we ran the first Allies Track, a one-day meeting for allies of women in open tech/culture to get to know each other, share best practices, and make plans for the future, held in conjunction with AdaCamp San Francisco. About 20 allies of all genders attended, along with several dozen visitors from the AdaCamp main track. Attendee Jeff Pollet wrote, “It was […] nice to be surrounded by a bunch of smart men advocating for feminism in tech.”

What’s next? The Ada Initiative is growing the Allies Workshops into a core program and expanding the number of workshops we teach. To find out more about holding the allies workshop for your project or organization, see our Allies workshop page. We are also in the early stages of developing a training program for workshop facilitators, to train others to deliver the workshop. We also plan to expand the Allies Track at the next AdaCamp.

Supporting women open source developers

GitHub OctocatIn April 2013, the Ada Initiative in partnership with GitHub offered private repositories to women learning open source software, giving people from underrepresented groups a chance to practice and grow their programming skills in private before participating in the mainstream open source community, where women often face higher levels of harassment than men both online and in person. This program has been enormously popular, with over 500 women requesting a free repository, showing the effectiveness of outreach programs targeted specifically at women.

What’s next? We are open to partnerships with organizations who want to support women by donating resources, but don’t have the expertise or infrastructure to run them on their own. Email to learn more.

Community campaigns

Piles of lanyards in each of red, yellow and green. By Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA.

AdaCamp SF lanyards, by Flore Allemandou CC BY-SA

The Ada Initiative has written multiple online campaigns and editorials this year, encouraging communities to support women in open technology and culture by carefully considering the role that sexual topics have at technical events and advertising any such material thoughtfully and respectfully to those who don’t wish to encounter it; and encouraging event organizers to have photography policies at conferences that restrict non-consensual photography.

The Ada Initiative also participated in the #banboothbabes campaign, arguing that using sexualized booth staff at trade shows sends the message that women aren’t the intended customers of technical businesses; and encouraged panelists at conferences to pledge not to appear on panels without women on them.

What’s next? We will continue to keep an eye out for emerging issues and help boost campaigns led by others, as well as start our own campaigns. Your support through speaking up in your community is crucial to the kind of culture change we’re working for.

Press appearances and speaking engagements

Mary and Valerie laughing

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

In 2013, the Ada Initiative became a go-to resource for journalists wanting to know more about the problems facing women in open technology and culture, both in the tech press and the mainstream media. In March, Valerie Aurora discussed the firing of Adria Richards in Slate, writing that:

one thing we can agree on is that the massive onslaught of rape and death threats [directed at Richards]… was wrong… It’s up to us to change the culture of consequence-free online harassment.

In June, we reached one million readers of the U.S. print edition of Marie Claire in “When Geeks Attack” by veteran feminist journalist Alissa Quart, writing:

… Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, fueled by a dogmatic belief that all speech is free speech, [Internet attackers] have made the very act of being a woman in the industry something of an occupational hazard.

Valerie was interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio in July about the problem of harassment of women in technology and what to do about.

Valerie also spoke at several events in 2013. She appeared as an invited speaker at Fórum Internacional Software Livre in Brazil, moderated the good news on diversity in open source panel at Open Source Bridge, appeared as a panelist in the Gender & Technology open forum in San Francisco. She was also invited to be the keynote speaker at the first Ada Lovelace conference in October 2013.

New Ada Initiative supporters

JS community logoThe majority of the Ada Initiative’s funding continues to come from people like you, individual donors giving yearly or monthly to support programs you care about. We love being accountable to you!

In 2013 we’ve been pleased to welcome major new supporters JSConf US 2013, with 85% of their attendees donating to the Ada Initiative at registration. Based on this donation, JSConf US sponsor Bloomberg donated an additional $5000. We also welcomed back Dreamwidth Studios as sponsors. In addition, AdaCamp San Francisco was supported by thirteen sponsoring organizations, including gold sponsors Mozilla, Automattic and Google Site Reliability Engineering.

We can’t do it without you!

2013 has been a good year for women in open tech/culture so far, thanks to people like you! Without our hundreds of generous donors and the many community members who stood up for their beliefs, 2013 would have been a bleak year for women in open tech/culture. You are a critical part of a massive, world-wide movement to give women an equal voice and role in online culture. Thank you!

Portrait of Ada Lovelace in color