AdaCamp Bangalore: "Nothing could be more open and encouraging than this"

I can say this conference was the most truly touched feminist endeavor I have ever witnessed or thought of. An inspiration to last through. — Rupali Talwatkar

Group shot of AdaCamp Bangalore attendees

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 culture and more.

50 people who identified as women attended AdaCamp Bangalore, held on November 22-23, 2014 at Red Hat in Bangalore.

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

Impact of AdaCamp Bangalore

Our post-event survey (24% response rate) indicated that 92% of respondents had improved their professional networks and feel more part of a community of women in open technology andculture. 92% also felt that they gained a better understanding of issues facing women in open technology and culture.

AdaCamp logo

75% agreed that AdaCamp increased their commitment to participating in open technology and culture in future. 67% of respondents also said that they learned new skills to participate in open technology and culture.

Motivating women who want to edit Wikipedia and helping them get rid of the same inhibitions that I had early this year when I started editing Wikipedia was a great feeling. We had two women published their first articles on Wikipedia and we were so proud. — Parul Thakur

Survey respondents mentioned some highlights of the event including the range of topics covered, the impostor syndrome workshop which opened the camp on Saturday, and the thoughtful provision of a “quiet room” for people to take some time out.

About the attendees

50 people attended AdaCamp Bangalore. A large majority of attendees came from locations across India, while we also had attendees from the United Arab Emirates, Myanmar, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

a group of AdaCamp Bangalore attendees

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

  • Ten different languages were listed as people’s “first language”, including Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Malagasy, Malathi, Sanskrit, French and English.
  • 100% of survey respondents listed their race or ethnicity as something other than white or Caucasian (compared to 6% in the AdaCamp Berlin survey, 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 (100% AdaCamp Berlin, 11% AdaCamp Portland, 18% AdaCamp San Francisco, 28% AdaCamp DC)
  • 33% were students, and 83% of survey respondents were not employed as programmers or IT specialists (50% AdaCamp Berlin, 42% AdaCamp Portland, 41% AdaCamp San Francisco, 49% AdaCamp DC)

a bar chart displaying the diversity statistics mentioned above

Travel scholarships

To make AdaCamp more accessible to students, non-profit employees and others living outside of Bangalore, and to increase the diversity of our attendees, we offered six travel scholarships to AdaCamp Bangalore, funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and Google. Three of these went to attendees from more distant parts of India, and the others went to AdaCampers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and the US. Mozilla additionally provided travel funding to five attendees from within their community, and Wikimedia India to one from their community; all these came from within India, where long distances between cities can make travel expensive for attendees.

What we did

AdaCamp Bangalore was primarily structured as an unconference, with attendee-organized and facilitated sessions around issues facing women in open technology and culture. However, unlike most unconferences, we also provide some plenary sessions to help orient attendees, and session curation to make the two days flow more smoothly.

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. Our Saturday morning impostor syndrome workshop was led by Ada Initiative advisor Sumana Harihareswara.

Attendees looking at a laptop

Following this, we had sessions introducing attendees to a range of different areas of open technology, culture and feminism. These allow attendees to have a better understanding of the range of open communities, before going in-depth in later sessions. At AdaCamp Bangalore, our four introductory sessions were on Wikipedia, Online Privacy and Security, Open Access to research materials, and Intersectional Feminism.

Two sessions on Saturday 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, continuing the discussion of existing solutions and developing new solutions to support and increase the participation of women in open technology and culture.

On Sunday afternoon, attendee-organized sessions moved towards skill-sharing and creation, with a varity of workshops, including a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, an open hardware workshop introducing participants to Arduino and RaspberryPi, an in-depth security workshop and a hands-on introduction to Mozilla Webmaker.

AdaCamp Bangalore schedule, made of coloured paper stuck to the wall

It was hard to believe that a completely unscheduled conference had such an awesome program made by the attendees in just 30 minutes. Nothing could be more open and encouraging than this. — Rupali Talwatkar

AdaCampers reported learning a variety of new skills including but not limited to editing Wikipedia, building mashups, entrepreneurship, filing bugs, workshop facilitiation, and reported that they learned about subjects like Open Street Maps, Google Summer of Code, Gnome OPW, augmented reality, Arduino and Mozilla Webmaker. Attendees also noted that the related discussions in our attendee forums, after the event, provided them with further valuable information.

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 local Indian projects addressing women’s issues, open humanitarian projects, women’s free software groups and building a library of open knowledge for students in Myanmar. For many lightning talk speakers, this was their first experience of public speaking.

Social events

On the evening of Friday November 21, Web We Want sponsored a reception at Red Hat’s offices. Thank you to Red Hat and Web We Want for hosting a reception that allowed a wider group to get together and socialise in a positive, feminist atmosphere.

Following the tradition established at many previous AdaCamps, instead of a large social event on Saturday night, attendees had dinner in small groups at restaurants around Bangalore. Attendees were invited to host dinners on behalf of their employers. Thank you to the Centre for Internet and Society, Growstuff and their representatives, for hosting dinners.

Reports from AdaCampers

“All and all a really fabulous and productive day; spent meeting some amazing women, learning lots which is sparking some ideas for some future projects.” — Tracey Benson

Several AdaCampers wrote publicly about their experiences at the event. You can read some of those blogs posts here:

Conference resources

AdaCamp lanyards in red, yellow, and green with patterns for colorblind visibility

AdaCamp lanyards. CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin

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 and an alcohol policy, which we look forward to releasing publicly in the new year!

“Though I already had a good idea of what to expect, I was still impressed with the meticulous effort AdaCamp invests in creating a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.” — Karolle Rabarison

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 Bangalore 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, Puppet Labs and Ada Initiative donors; gold sponsors Automattic, Red Hat, Mozilla, Web We Want and Wikimedia Foundation; and silver sponsors New Relic, Simple and Wikimedia Deutschland.