Supporting women in Linux: Ally Skills Workshops, consulting, and more

Last year, an anonymous Linux kernel developer gave the Ada Initiative $100,000 to support women in the Linux community – an operating system used by the majority of the servers on the Internet, all Android phones, and many network appliances. We pledged to teach four Ally Skills Workshops at Linux conferences and give 100 hours of free consulting to Linux-related organizations. This is an update on our progress!

Ally Skills Workshops

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their community or workplace, with an emphasis on techniques that work well in open technology and culture. We have taught two of the four workshops for Linux conferences: one at SCALE (SoCal Linux Expo) in Los Angeles and one at LinuxCon NA in Seattle. The final two workshops will be the first week of October, at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. All are free to attendees of the host conferences – sign up now if you’d like to attend!

The workshop at SCALE had about 20 enthusiastic attendees. In our post-workshop survey, 100% of respondents agreed that after the workshop, they knew what actions to take in order to welcome women – as well as actions to avoid – and that they would recommend the workshop to others. One attendee, Matt Krai, told us, “I liked learning exactly how to respond to certain scenarios and hearing other peoples’ responses and ideas. I liked the ways that all participants were encouraged to participate.

The workshop at LinuxCon had about 15 attendees. In our post-workshop survey, 100% of respondents agreed that after the workshop, they were confident about speaking up to support women and could respond to unwelcoming actions to women in their communities. The attendees had some very positive things to say about their experiences.

Timothy Weber said, “I liked that there was a focus on practical, “sustainable” responses to inappropriate actions, that I’ll feel capable of employing. I also liked that just talking about these scenarios revealed how uncomfortable I personally am with conflict. And, it was good to discuss emotions with people at a tech conference – that’s rare and welcome.

Daniel Watkins said, “The opportunity to discuss how to act as an ally openly and honestly was incredibly valuable. The perspective from the women at the workshop was super-super-super-helpful, making me think differently about things from the very first scenario we covered. Val was amazing; an incredible facilitator and fount of wisdom and experience.[Editor’s note – we’re blushing!]

If all that sounded good, remember that you can sign up for the Ally Skills Workshops at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. We also have capacity to teach two more Ally Skills Workshops at other locations before the Ada Initiative shuts down in October – contact us if you’d like to learn more!


Linux-related organizations have contacted us for consulting, including advice on updating and enforcing their conference code of conduct and how to run various kinds of scholarship programs to increase diversity. We have plenty of hours left, so consider this your invitation to ask us for advice on increasing diversity in your Linux-related community!


Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

While at these events, we are taking the opportunity to speak about supporting women in Linux. Valerie Aurora also participated in the Women in Linux lunch at LinuxCon NA, giving an on-stage interview with Linux Foundation CMO Amanda McPherson about what people of all genders can do to support women in Linux. At Ohio LinuxFest, Valerie will be giving one of the conference keynotes, also in the form of an on-stage interview with audience questions.

Next steps

If you’d like to be part of supporting women in Linux, please sign up for the final two Ally Skills Workshops, at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. If you hurry, you can schedule an Ally Skills Workshop at your organization before the end of October (Ally Skills Workshops will be available again in January from other sources). Sponsoring an Outreachy intern is also an effective way to increase overall diversity in Linux and free and open source software in general.

Thank you again to our anonymous $100,000 donor – and all of our donors, of any size – for making this work to support women in Linux possible! We look forward to Ohio LinuxFest and LinuxCon EU!