Why I donated: 7 women share how Ada Initiative changed their lives

CC BY-SA Adam NovakThe best part about a fundraising drive is hearing stories of how the Ada Initiative’s work changed the lives of women in open technology and culture. Here are seven women’s blog posts about why they donated to the Ada Initiative:

Linux developer Sarah Sharp writes: “One of the most important things I learned at Ada Camp was how to combat impostor syndrome. It’s basically the feeling that you’re not really that smart, that your accomplishments are just luck, and some day, someone is going to find out, and you’ll get humiliated/fired/shunned. It’s surprising the number of highly successful tech women who experience this feeling. I used to have the worst case of impostor syndrome, until the women at AdaCamp taught me how to fight it.”

Photograph of Connie BerardiHTML5 evangelist and open source developer Connie Berardi writes: “When I arrived at the Washington Post Building for AdaCamp 2012, the first question Valerie Aurora asked was, ‘Who wants a topic on impostor syndrome?’ Now here I was in a room full of 100 women with an almost even distribution in age from 18-65 and from every continent in the world. When I looked around the room I was speechless. It seemed that every single woman in the room had her hand raised. WHAT???! You mean we all suffer from this?! I was ready to wage war, but I was not alone… and not by a long shot.”

Selena Deckelmann and Rebecca Refford at AdaCamp DC CC BY-SA Maírín DuffyPostgresSQL expert and PyLadies volunteer Selena Deckelmann writes: “I’ve attended all three AdaCamps – in Melbourne, AU, Washington DC and San Francisco. Each gathering was larger than the last, and I’ve had important conversations at each that have changed my thinking and my activism in significant ways. My most striking realization is how little work is done to educate adult women about computer science, about open source and open culture. Most outreach efforts focus on children, with the implication that adults are some how ‘not worth the effort’, “beyond help”, or that adults will simply find the things that interest them on their own.”

Liz HenryMozilla bugmaster and author Liz Henry writes: “The synergy from the feminist hackerspace discussions at AdaCamp SF led to the first meeting for a new feminist hacker and maker space in San Francisco. After a whole weekend of talking at AdaCamp, it was like we couldn’t stop! I ended up with a dozen or so fierce activist women in my living room describing their vision for how we could make actual physical room for our projects and ourselves, a space we would invent, define, and maintain. It was really a dream come true.”

Photograph of Sky Croeser in front of treeResearcher, activist, and lecturer in Net Studies Sky Croeser writes: “But the culture around ‘open’ is, in important senses, still not that equal or that open. Recent discussions about aggression within the Linux development community have highlighted the ways in which particular kinds of language and interactions can work to exclude women and other people who are not brought up to interact aggressively, or who tend to be penalised for ‘assertive behaviour’ (including black men). Issues such as this are, perhaps, one of the reasons that women are underrepresented in most (but not all!) free and open source software communities. […] I donated to The Ada Initiative, as well as volunteering on the advisory board, because I want to see more women in open technology and open culture.”

Two women smiling

Annalee Flower Horne and Mackenzie Morgan, CC BY-SA Adam Novak

Programmer and costumer Annalee Flower Horne writes: “It would be unscientific to attribute my experience at Djangocon entirely to the anti-harassment policy. I’ve never been to a Djangocon without such a policy, after all, so it could be that the Django community just knows how to behave. But when I’m trying to decide whether to go to a conference, a clear, specific, well-publicized anti-harassment policy is big points in its favor. This is especially true when a conference is using the Ada Initiative’s policy, because I know that it comes with a comprehensive back-end policy to ensure that event staff know how to handle problems as they arise.”

Woman smilingHistory graduate student and OTW board member Andrea Horbinski writes: “Attending AdaCamp twice has definitely given me tools to combat impostor syndrome, and what I’ve learned there has also helped me get better at accepting compliments for work I’ve put in and stuff I’ve accomplished. The Ada Initiative’s insistence on embracing open culture, ranging from fanworks to Wikimedia, has also helped me reframe my work with the OTW and my participation in fandom. Open culture initiatives like fandom and Wikipedia editing have just as much validity as open source and open technology, and The Ada Initiative’s willingness to cross those streams is part of what makes AdaCamps, and TAI itself, so awesome.”

We only have until August 30th, 2013 to raise enough money to fund our work for another year. If you’d like to be part of making open technology and culture more welcoming to women, join Sarah, Connie, Selena, Liz, Sky, Annalee, and Andrea and donate today!

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