Final report on $100,000 donation supporting women in Linux

In September, we updated you on the progress of our work for women in Linux, supported by a $100,000 donation from an anonymous Linux kernel developer. We pledged to teach four Ally Skills Workshops at Linux conferences and give 100 hours of free consulting to Linux-related organizations. Here is our final report on this work!

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 taught four workshops at Linux conferences: one at SCALE (SoCal Linux Expo) in Los Angeles, one at LinuxCon NA in Seattle, one at Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus and our first ever workshop in Europe at LinuxCon EU in Dublin. All were free to attendees of the host conferences.

All together, we taught 60 people in the Linux community how to support women in Linux through simple, everyday actions. Here are some of the things the attendees said:

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.

Arnout Vandecappelle said, “With the discussions in small groups I was forced to really think about the situation and also view it from different perspectives.

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.


We spent several hours advising Linux-related organizations, including helping them with updating and enforcing their conference code of conduct, developing codes of conduct outside of conferences, and how to run various kinds of scholarship programs to increase diversity.


Several people in discussion around a table

Allies workshop discussion

Our recent talks at Linux conferences were especially timely given the announcement by Sarah Sharp, author of the first production USB 3.0 stack, that she quit the Linux kernel development community because leading Linux developers told her that she would have to accept personal emotional abuse in order to work in Linux. A culture of verbal emotional abuse makes people of all genders unhappy, but it disproportionately affects members of underrepresented groups – and a look at any photo of a Linux kernel development conference will tell you that women are wildly underrepresented in this field.

At LinuxCon EU, Leigh Honeywell, a long-time Ada Initiative advisor and computer security expert working for Slack, gave a keynote address making the case for a polite and welcoming development culture to improve the security of Linux and open source software in general. Valerie joined Leigh and Nithya Ruff for a panel at the women’s lunch sponsored by SanDisk, where they talked about the importance of men taking on the work of changing Linux culture, what Linux developers get out of being rude and insulting (the pleasure of putting other people down), and using the Python community as an example of a polite open source development community whose leader exemplified their values.

At Ohio LinuxFest, Valerie gave the Saturday morning conference keynotes, as an on-stage interview with audience questions. She asked the audience of Linux enthusiasts to stop applauding Linux community members who are rude and insulting, and say something publicly to oppose that behavior. She also and encouraged them to look at the Python community as an example of a welcoming open source community led by a developer who is polite and encouraging to everyone, especially women.

Valerie Aurora also spoke at 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, with the emphasis on what men can do.

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!