AdaCamp Montreal report-out: "it was so exciting! I would totally go again if I can."

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 nonprofit 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.

94 people who identified as women attended AdaCamp Montreal, held over two days on April 13th and 14th 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

“AdaCamp was a tremendous experience. The energy in the room as we found common cause, discovered a new perspective, learned a new skill — it was so exciting! I would totally go again if I can.” — Marianne

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors who made AdaCamp Montreal possible: Puppet LabsGoogle Montreal and Chrome, Ada Initiative donors, the Linux Foundation, Red Hat, Simple, Etsy, MongoDB, Plotly and Shopify.

Impact of AdaCamp Montreal

Our post-event survey (45% response rate) indicated that 95% of respondents had improved their professional networks and feel more part of a community of women in open technology and culture. 67% also felt that they gained a better understanding of the issues facing women in open technology and culture. 67% agreed that AdaCamp increased their commitment to participating in open technology and culture in the future. 63% of respondents agreed that their experience at AdaCamp will benefit their job performance. 91% of respondents would recommend AdaCamp to others.

An overwhelming number of survey respondents said the highlight of the event was meeting inspiring, respectful attendees and sharing knowledge and stories. Other noted highlights include opening the event with the Imposter Syndrome workshop, the session on avoiding burnout and the organizers’ emphasis on the Code of Conduct for the event.

About the attendees

While a majority of the attendees came from the United States and Canada, we also had attendees from Singapore, Poland, Albania, India, Argentina and Australia.

27% of survey respondents listed their race or ethnicity as something other than white or Caucasian. Professions ranged from programmer, software and web developers to data scientist, law student, librarian and TV/film producer.

Travel scholarships

To make AdaCamp more accessible to students, non-profit employees and to increase the diversity of our attendees, we offered eight travel scholarships to AdaCamp Montreal. One of these went to an attendee from Argentina, and the others went to AdaCampers from the US and Canada.

What we did

As with previous AdaCamps, AdaCamp Montreal was primarily structured as an unconference, with attendee-organized and facilitated sessions largely around issues facing women in open technology and culture. We continued to provide some plenary sessions to help orient attendees, and session organization to make the two days flow more smoothly. Additionally, these sessions were broken up by a scheduled lunch, lightning talks and ending with a closing session.

For most attendees, the first session of AdaCamp was an Impostor Syndrome workshop, sponsored by Red Hat. 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. Thank you to Red Hat for supporting this session.

This was followed by attendee-organized sessions occurring in different rooms throughout the day. The topics ranged from avoiding burnout, Wikipedia’s gender gap, linguistics, tech-related gender based violence, an intro to feminist video game development and an exploration of independent publishing and zines.

On Sunday, the round-table sessions moved towards topics ranging from nonprofit/community fundraising 101, intro to information science, anarchist and anti-capitalist approaches to open culture and working collectively/cooperatively in tech. The afternoon focused on skill-sharing and creation, which included a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, a robot workshop, Cryptoparty skills share and Code of Conduct creation, adoption and enforcement.

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. Among the twenty lightning talk topics, AdaCampers talked about linguistics as open source, a statistical snapshot of the women of Montreal, introversion, and recovering from losing one’s voice.

“I am surprised how much I got out of this event. The Ada Initiative brings a holistic approach to a lot of things that affect women in open tech and culture, and attending sessions on everything from workplace survival to info/tech skills to feminist issues made AdaCamp unique. The range of interests and skills among the participants meant that in pretty much every setting something interesting was going to happen.” — Sharon Hackett

Social events

On the evening of Sunday April 12, Google hosted an AdaCamp reception at their Montreal office featuring women employees working for Google locally. Thank you to Irmgard van der Krift and the Google Montreal office for their lovely reception.

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

Reports from AdaCampers

“I highly recommend AdaCamp and unconferences. It was an empowering experience that gave me confidence in my work and myself. If you have the opportunity to go, do it.” — Allison Levine

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

AdaCampers also wrote about talks they gave and sessions they ran:

Eva Blue’s extensive photography of the event can be viewed in her AdaCamp Montreal Flickr album.

Thank you!

Thank you to all of the AdaCamp Montreal 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!

Thank you again to the AdaCamp 2015 platinum sponsors Puppet Labs and Google Montreal and Chrome; and gold sponsors The Linux Foundation and Red Hat.