This week, GitHub published the results of an investigation into credible allegations of harassment and intimidation against one of its co-founders, the co-founder’s wife, and another unnamed employee. It reported that its investigation had found no evidence of illegal actions but did find mistakes and poor judgement by unnamed persons, and announced the resignation of the co-founder in question. It was shortly followed by a blog post from the resigning co-founder which included a clear threat of legal action against anyone who said he or his wife had engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination.
The sum of these events make it impossible for Ada Initiative to partner with GitHub at this time. One year ago, we partnered with GitHub to offer free private repositories to over 500 women learning to write open source software. This offer ended in December 2013, but these repositories are still in use by many of the recipients. We will work to wind down the free private repository partnership in a way that causes minimum harm to the women using them. GitHub also sponsored AdaCamp DC and AdaCamp San Francisco, our conferences to support women in open technology and culture. We will not accept future sponsorships from or partnerships with GitHub unless the situation changes significantly.
Many resources are available for people wanting to prevent these kinds of problems in their own companies or communities. The Geek Feminism Wiki has a wide range of resources such as an explanation of why sexualized environments are harmful to women. Ashe Dryden offers consulting on increasing diversity at your corporation. Model View Culture regularly publishes insightful pieces on tech culture and the systemic factors affecting it. “The No Asshole Rule” is a management book on creating a culture that repels abusive people. The Ada Initiative Allies Workshop teaches men simple, everyday actions to support women in their workplace.
We are working hard to create a world in which women can participate in open source software, Wikipedia, and other areas of open technology and culture without harassment, intimidation, or discrimination. Sometimes this means refusing to partner with or accept sponsorship from specific people or organizations. It is also contrary to our principles to be silent when our existing sponsors and collaborators’ actions consistently do not support our mission.