AdaCamp Berlin report-out: "I went to AdaCamp and all I got was a very good time!"

“Thanks to all of you! it was a great experience that all women in tech and open culture should live.” — Anonymous AdaCamper

AdaCamp is an unconference for women in open technology and culture and the people who support them. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, discuss issues women have in common across open technology and culture fields, and find ways to address them. AdaCamp is organized by the Ada Initiative, a non-profit devoted to increasing the participation and status of women in open technology and culture, which includes open source software, Wikipedia and related projects, fan fiction, and more.

57 people who identified as women attended AdaCamp Berlin, held on October 11-12, 2014 at the office of Wikimedia Deutschland.


A huge thank you to all of our sponsors who made AdaCamp Berlin possible:
Google, Puppet Labs, Ada Initiative donors, Automattic, Mozilla, Red Hat, Web We Want, Wikimedia Foundation, Simple, New Relic, Wikimedia Deutschland, Linux Foundation, NetApp, Rackspace, Spotify, Stripe, Wikimedia UK, MongoDB, Gitlab, OCLC, O’Reilly, Pinboard, and Python Software Foundation.

Impact of AdaCamp Berlin

“Talking to feminist women who work in tech and don’t do exactly the same things I do gave me the possibility of looking at my position from other points of view and this was very empowering.” — Anonymous AdaCamper

Our post-event survey (24% response rate) indicated that 83% respondents had improved their professional networks and feel more committed to participating in open technology and culture as a result of AdaCamp, two of the primary goals of the event. 66% of respondents felt more part of a community of women in open technology and culture and 58% agreed that AdaCamp increased their awareness of issues facing women in open technology and culture.

“I got back to editing Wikipedia after being dormant for 3 years.” — Ednah Kiome

62% of respondents also said that they learned new skills to participate in open technology and culture. Overall, survey respondents liked the unconference format for its attendee-driven content and collaborative nature. Many participants specifically praised AdaCamp’s role cards that are used for all sessions to help keep the session focused, on topic, and productive.

About the attendees

CC BY-SA Sarah Sharp

CC BY-SA Sarah Sharp

“She believed, she could, so she did.”Greta Doci

57 people attended AdaCamp Berlin. The attendees came from 19 countries. 35% of attendees were from Germany and 13% were from the United Kingdom. Other countries represented include Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.

We worked hard to make AdaCamp Berlin diverse in many different ways. Some statistics from our post-conference survey (24% response rate):

  • 9% listed their race or ethnicity as other than white or Caucasian (compared to 23% in the Adacamp Portland survey, 30% in the AdaCamp San Francisco survey and 25% in the AdaCamp DC survey)
  • 100% were born outside the United States (11% AdaCamp Portland, 18% AdaCamp San Francisco, 28% AdaCamp DC)
  • 50% were not employed as programmers or IT specialists (42% AdaCamp Portland, 41% AdaCamp San Francisco, 49% AdaCamp DC)

Travel scholarships

Inclusivity was a founding cornerstone of the event.”Zara Rahman

To make AdaCamp more accessible to students, non-profit employees and others living outside of Berlin, and to increase the diversity of our attendees, we offered 6 travel scholarships to AdaCamp Berlin. Two of the travel grants were awarded to AdaCampers from Albania, and the others were awarded to AdaCampers from Belgium, France, Kenya and Slovenia. An additional 5 travel grants were provided by Wikimedia UK for UK based attendees. These five AdaCampers came from the United Kingdom and from Ireland.

What we did

AdaCamp Berlin was primarily structured as an unconference, with attendee-organized and facilitated sessions around issues facing women in open technology and culture. Based on feedback from the previous four AdaCamps, we added some more structure to the beginning and end of the schedule.

“I loved that AdaCamp allowed us to talk about [the connections between basic rights for women, and empowerment through technology] in their interlinked realities, unlike the slew of women’s events that seem to do little more than feed corporate ambitions.” — Jane Ruffino

For most attendees, the first session of AdaCamp was an Impostor Syndrome workshop. Women’s socialization is often less confident and competitive than men’s, and women are therefore especially vulnerable to Impostor Syndrome — the belief that one’s work is inferior and one’s achievements and recognition are fraudulent — in open technology and culture endeavors where public scrutiny of their work is routine. As at AdaCamp San Francisco, the opening session was a large-group Impostor Syndrome workshop facilitated by AdaCamp Berlin and Bangalore lead Alex Bayley. The Impostor Syndrome workshop was followed by introductory sessions on areas of open technology and culture that might be new to participants; including everything from electronic security and privacy, to feminist activism.

Two sessions in the afternoon were the first free-form sessions: the first focusing on what problems and barriers face women in open source technology and culture; and the second discussing existing solutions in a variety of communities. On Sunday the morning sessions were also free-form, with a focus on generating new and creative ways to address the problems and barriers facing women in open source technology and culture.

Coloured pieces of paper arranged as a conference schedule

CC BY-SA Nóirín Plunkett

On Sunday afternoon, attendee-organized sessions moved towards skill-sharing and creation, with a multitude of workshops, make-a-thons, edit-a-thons, hack-a-thons, and tutorials that ranged from a security and cryptography workshop, through group programming working on software as a craft, to a meta-workshop on how to run workshops!

AdaCampers reported learning a variety of new skills including but not limited to the usage of crypto tools, privacy, approaches to feminism, how to contribute to open source, how to better organize events, creating safer spaces, making events inclusive, fan culture, security and what one AdaCamper described as “A deeper understanding of why security is particularly important for women.”

Lightning talks were held on both days of the main track. Any AdaCamper that wanted to share their knowledge, experience or passion—on a topic either in open technology and culture or not—was given the stage for 90 seconds. AdaCampers talked about subjects from useful hand signals for group communication, to online language barriers, to Wikipedia projects. For many lightning talk speakers, this was their first experience of public speaking.

Social events

On the evening of Friday October 10, Wikimedia UK and Web We Want sponsored a reception at Wikimedia Deutschland. Thank you to Wikimedia UK and Web We Want for hosting a reception that allowed a wider group to get together and socialise in a positive, feminist atmosphere.

Women smiling

CC BY-SA Greta Doci

Following the tradition established at AdaCamps DC, San Francisco, and Portland; instead of a large social event on Saturday night, attendees had dinner in small groups at restaurants around Berlin. Attendees were invited to host dinners on behalf of their employers. Thank you to Puppet Labs and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews and their representatives, for hosting dinners.

“The greatest moments [of AdaCamp] were the session on women who don’t code and the Saturday night dinner, developing a discussion on codes of conduct at feminist events we’d begun during the afternoon with some of the women who attended it and luckily were also at the dinner.” — Anonymous AdaCamper

Reports from AdaCampers

“I went to AdaCamp and all I got was a very good time!” — Helga Hansen

Several AdaCampers wrote publicly about their experiences at the event, in a variety of languages! You can read some of those blogs posts here:

Conference resources

Coloured lanyards to indicate photo preferences

CC BY-SA Ioana Chiorean

Each AdaCamp we strive to improve the event. After each AdaCamp, we publish any resources we developed and license them CC BY-SA for use by the community. We’re presently working on a photography usage policy, which we look forward to releasing publicly in the new year!

Future AdaCamps

We’re thrilled with the increasing success of AdaCamp at bringing women together and developing the current and next generation of women leaders in open technology and culture. AdaCamp is one of the key events of the Ada Initiative, with huge impact on its attendees and the communities they are involved in. Our 2014 AdaCamps in Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India, are part of our strategy to reach a wider range of women by holding more frequent but smaller AdaCamps around the world. We are developing plans for AdaCamps in 2015 and 2016 now. If you’d like to be notified of the next AdaCamp, sign up to our announcement mailing list or follow us on Twitter.

Thank you to all of the AdaCamp Berlin attendees and AdaCamp sponsors for giving us the support we needed to run this event and make it what it is. You are what makes AdaCamp a success!

Your organization has the opportunity to sponsor AdaCamps in 2015 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture. Contact us at for more information about becoming a sponsor.

Thank you again to the AdaCamp 2014 platinum sponsors Google and Puppet Labs, gold sponsors Automattic, Red Hat, Mozilla, Web We Want, and Wikimedia Foundation; and silver sponsors New Relic, Simple and Wikimedia Deutschland.