Remembering Nóirín Plunkett

Photograph of Nóirín Plunkett

Nóirín Plunkett
by Tom Coates CC BY-NC

Valerie and Mary are devastated to learn today that our long-time friend and collaborator Nóirín Plunkett has died.

Nóirín will be remembered as a leading open source contributor; brilliant and compassionate and welcoming and funny. They were a long time leader in the Apache Software Foundation community, and a gifted speaker and documentation writer. Nóirín was key to the creation of the Ada Initiative in more ways than one. Since then they made invaluable contributions to the Ada Initiative as an advisor since February 2011, and a project manager in 2014. We are more grateful than we can say.

Nóirín was also one of the strongest and bravest people we will ever have the privilege of knowing.

Our thoughts are with everyone who loved Nóirín, everyone who worked with them, everyone who went to their talks or learned from their writing, everyone who met them at a conference, everyone for whom they made the open source and technical communities a better place.

The Ada Initiative has suspended donations for the time being. Some people close to Nóirín have suggested donating to:

Rape Abuse Incest National Network (see this note on variation of trans-inclusiveness of organizations they refer people to)

Center of Excellence for Transgender Health (please follow the additional instructions underneath the “Donate” button)

Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Add a little bit of AdaCamp to your event: announcing the AdaCamp toolkit!

A group of AdaCamp Bangalore attendees

AdaCamp Bangalore attendees in 2014

Today we’re releasing the AdaCamp Toolkit, a series of howto guides to many of the things that were special about AdaCamp, and that we’d love to see spread to other events. And the entire Toolkit is freely usable and modifiable under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence so that you can improve on it too!

We’re still sad that we won’t be hosting any more AdaCamp events but we’re hoping we can help you fill the gap by adding a little bit — or a lot — of AdaCamp to your event, and to see lots of new events that are everything that AdaCamp tried to be! One of the goals of AdaCamp was to be a conference that spread its best ideas far and wide. We want to see the greatest hits of AdaCamp at as many events as possible.

Here’s some AdaCamp Toolkit ideas for your next event:

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp Portland attendees in 2014
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Many more guides are included in the AdaCamp Toolkit, from sample website content to a guide to managing challenging topics at a feminist unconference. What special sauce can you mix from the AdaCamp Toolkit for your event?

The AdaCamp Toolkit was edited and primarily written by Deputy Executive Director Mary Gardiner, with assistance from other AdaCamp staff and consultants, including Alex Bayley, Suki McCoy, and Valerie Aurora. We’d also like to thank many members of the advisory board for their help with reviewing the Toolkit over the last two weeks. Especial thanks to Mel Chua, lead author of the guide to support for d/Deaf people. Thanks also to Selena Deckelmann, Alicia Gibb, Amelia Greenhall, Leigh Honeywell, Andrea Horbinski, Sarah Sharp, Sara Smollett, and Andromeda Yelton for reviews and feedback as we worked to make this public.

Free Ally Skills Workshop for attendees of LinuxCon Seattle August 17

Would you like to be part of changing the culture of Linux to be more welcoming to women, newcomers, and marginalized people? You can help by attending the Ally Skills Workshop at LinuxCon NA in Seattle on August 17 from 2:20pm to 5:20pm. The workshop is free to LinuxCon attendees thanks to an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the Ada Initiative from a Linux kernel developer.

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men how to support women in their workplaces and communities, by effectively speaking up when they see sexism, creating discussions that allow more voices to be heard, and learning how to prevent sexism and unwelcoming behavior in the first place. The changes that reduce sexism also make communities more welcoming, productive, and creative.

You can attend the workshop by applying on the form on the event page. Register for LinuxCon NA 2015 here.

The workshop is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous Linux kernel developer who donated $100,000 to the Ada Initiative last year in order to support women in Linux and greater diversity in open source software overall. This is the second of four workshops we will be teaching at Linux-related conferences in 2015 at no charge to the organizers.

Here are a few things people have said after attending other Ally Skills Workshops:

“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many ‘a­ha’ moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily.” – Anonymous participant

“I’ve already witnessed a couple of incidents where coworkers who attended the workshop corrected themselves after saying something that could be misconstrued.” – Anonymous participant

“Change is uncomfortable. This workshop helped me be comfortable about being uncomfortable. Once that is addressed it opens a path for improvement, personally and for our industry.” – Kris Amundson

You can be part of change in the Linux kernel development community! Sign up for the Ally Skills Workshop at today!

Fight impostor syndrome: take the Ada Initiative's impostor syndrome training in August in Oakland or Sydney!

Women can now take the Fighting Impostor Syndrome class without going to AdaCamp! In August, the Ada Initiative will teach two classes on fighting Impostor Syndrome, one in Oakland, California, USA, and one in Sydney, Australia. Half the tickets are free of charge, thanks to our generous donors in 2014.

Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. It is prevalent among women in open tech/culture, many of whom have been socialised to value other’s opinion of their work above their own, and to do things “by the book.” Impostor syndrome is a common reaction to doing publicly visible and publicly criticised work like that done in open technology and culture.

Our first Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop will be held at Impact Hub Oakland, Oakland, California, USA on Tuesday August 11 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. 100 tickets are available, including 50 free tickets: get your ticket to the Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop in Oakland at Eventbrite.

Our second Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop will be held at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, Sydney, Australia on Wednesday August 19 from 2pm to 3:30pm. 30 tickets are available, including 15 free tickets: get your ticket to the Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop in Sydney at Eventbrite.

In line with our mission of supporting women in open technology and culture, both our Oakland and Sydney workshops are open to anyone who identifies as a woman in a way that is significant to them.

We’d love to share this program far and wide, and so, after these workshops, the Ada Initiative will publish our Fighting Impostor Syndrome workshop materials under Creative Commons BY-SA for you to teach in your own communities. Thank you again for your support!

Open sourcing our Executive Director job description

A lot of people really liked the job description the Ada Initiative wrote for our recent Executive Director search and have asked to see a copy. We release this job description under the Creative Commons Zero license. You may reuse or modify it without crediting the Ada Initiative (though we always appreciate a shout-out!).

THIS JOB IS NO LONGER OPEN. Please do not apply. Thank you!

Executive Director

The Ada Initiative is looking for an Executive Director (ED). The Ada Initiative works to increase the participation and status of women in open technology and culture through an explicitly intersectional feminist approach. We are a growing and financially healthy nonprofit with 3 staff members. The three most important responsibilities of the ED will be leading the organization, fundraising, and managing people. The current ED, Valerie Aurora, is excited to immediately transition to a clearly defined role as the Director of Training Programs, reporting to the new ED.

This is a fulfilling, exciting, and challenging job. Successful candidates will need to be not only organized, financially savvy, and responsible, but also flexible, creative, inspirational, supportive, and comfortable with uncertainty. The ability to handle conflict well is particularly important, as conflict is an inevitable part of successful activism. In addition, our new ED will need to lead the organization by example in self-care and burn-out prevention.

This is a salaried position with benefits (including health insurance and a sustainable vacation policy), preferably working at least 2 days a week at our office in San Francisco, CA, USA. Taking into account what EDs of similar organizations are paid, the competitive market for the skills required for this job, and the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, this position will pay from $120,000 to $160,000/year depending on experience. We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.

Job description

As Executive Director, you will lead the organization: setting priorities, deciding which programs to run and where, and periodically re-examining our scope and mission. You will also represent the Ada Initiative to the outside world: speaking to journalists, writing or approving blog posts and press releases, and communicating with donors and sponsors. You will need to travel and speak in public at least 3-4 times a year. Editorial writing, leading events, and teaching are not a required part of the job, but you will have the opportunity to do each of these things as your other responsibilities permit.

You will lead the Ada Initiative’s program activities: deciding where and when to hold AdaCamp conferences, overseeing our training programs, designing and approving new programs and events, working with partners, and setting priorities between programs. An important part of your job is persuading and influencing people to change their behavior by advocating for policies, creating coalitions, convincing organizations and people to use our training, giving advice on how to respond to reports of sexism, and similar activities.

The Executive Director is responsible for the financial health of the organization. You will lead the yearly fundraiser and raise corporate sponsorship for AdaCamp and other events. In collaboration with the Director of Operations and the board of directors, you will create yearly budgets and make high-level decisions about how to spend the organization’s money to best serve our mission: whether to hire staff, fund events, develop new programs, etc.

You will also manage the staff and consultants for the Ada Initiative. We currently have 3 staff members: Mary Gardiner (Deputy Executive Director, based in Sydney, Australia), Suki McCoy (Director of Operations, based in San Francisco, CA, USA), and Valerie Aurora (currently Executive Director, stepping down to Director of Training, based in San Francisco, CA, USA). We have about a dozen consultants, most of whom work remotely. You will work with the board of directors and the advisory board, which have 7 and ~25 members respectively, and continue to recruit new directors and advisors. You will probably need to grow the Ada Initiative staff to 5-6 people in 2015, and more in following years if necessary.

While this job is fulfilling and supportive in many ways, it also has some serious downsides. As the visible leader of a feminist activism organization, many people will feel entitled to your time and energy without compensation and you will need to tell them no frequently so that we can fulfill our mission. We will provide you with experienced support in handling harassment and threats, as you will almost certainly be the target of these. Sometimes partners, sponsors, donors, or community members will pressure the Ada Initiative to do things contrary to its mission and you will need to stand up to them. Listening to and responding to reports of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and criminal harassment are a frequent part of the job.

Preventing activist burn-out requires fostering a supportive and emotionally caring working environment. This is important to the Ada Initiative, and you will be expected to lead by example. You should be comfortable with actively offering (and taking!) stress leave when someone needs to care for themselves or their family or is the target of harassment; encouraging people to work only the hours they are being paid for; paying attention to and celebrating achievements; matching employees with responsibilities that are rewarding and fulfilling; and commiserating or problem-solving as each is needed.

We are open to candidates of a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, from highly experienced career executives to people with limited formal management experience but a great deal of experience with open tech/culture communities and/or feminist activism. We are uncompromising in our mission and values, and happy to train a high-potential but less experienced candidate who has the personal skills and vision to become a great ED (including hiring executive coaches or other professional support). The current ED, Valerie Aurora, is looking forward to immediately stepping down to a clearly defined position reporting to the new ED as Director of Training Programs, in charge of the Ally Skills Workshop and Impostor Syndrome Training programs. The new ED can call on Valerie’s support and expertise as much or as little as they desire.

About the Ada Initiative

The Ada Initiative is a feminist non-profit dedicated to increasing the participation and status of women in free and open technology and culture, including free and open source software, open data, open education, fan culture, and similar areas. We take an explicitly intersectional feminist approach and are a trans-inclusive organization. We were founded 4 years ago and have 3 salaried staff members, as well as about a dozen contractors. Our major programs include fighting conference and online harassment with example policies and support for implementing them, the AdaCamp unconference for women in open tech/culture, and training programs such as the Ally Skills Workshop, which teaches men simple everyday ways to support women, and Impostor Syndrome Training, which teaches women how to overcome the feeling that they are a fraud.

In terms of funding, staff, and program work, we have been growing at a rate of about 150% a year since our founding. We are financially stable, and have a healthy and active board of directors and advisory board. We have three primary sources of revenue: a yearly online fundraiser, corporate sponsorship of our AdaCamp unconferences, and training workshop fees. The majority of our income comes from small donations from individuals, which keeps us independent of any particular large sponsor.

We are serious about changing the world, but take every opportunity we can to be funny and humorous while we do it. Keeping our employees happy and fulfilled is a priority since it is part of our strategy to prevent activist burn-out, so we explicitly discuss each week how motivated or burned out we are feeling (and how to fix it). We grant stress leave liberally, we encourage flexible hours and part-time work, and we provide a childcare benefit for employees who are traveling (as well as other childcare benefits for U.S. employees). We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.



  • Lead and inspire people to work towards our mission
  • Set direction and strategy for the organization as a whole
  • Build and maintain relationships with similar organizations
  • Work with journalists and the press to educate and raise awareness
  • Periodically examine and refine our mission and scope
  • Prevent “mission creep,” especially attempted co-option towards other goals
  • Grow our programs to meet demand, which will probably require hiring 2-5 additional staff within the next 1-2 years
  • Manage the composition of and the communications with the Board of Directors and Advisory Board, including recruiting new members
  • Attend a limited number of conferences per year (probably 3-6)


  • Manage 3 staff and about a dozen consultants (and more as we grow)
  • Oversee all program work (conferences, training, anti-harassment consulting, etc.)
  • Encourage self-care, healthy work environment, and other burn-out prevention for all staff
  • Make high-level budget decisions
  • Negotiate contracts with sponsors, clients, and consultants
  • Review existing programs and change or end them as necessary
  • Create new programs as appropriate


  • Take overall responsibility for meeting Ada Initiative’s financial goals
  • Lead yearly individual online fundraising drive (2014 total: $215,000)
  • Raise corporate sponsorship for AdaCamp unconferences


We encourage you to apply even if you don’t, in your opinion, meet 100% of these criteria. You may fulfill the requirements in unexpected or unusual ways that you may not realize. However, you must be eligible to work in the U.S. (we can’t sponsor visas at this time).


  • 2+ years participation in a community or field with highly participatory social and cultural dynamics: peer-to-peer organization, international participation, lots of online communication, shares work freely. This can include, but is not limited to: fan culture, Wikipedia and related projects, open data, open government, open geo, open hardware, hacker/maker spaces, and free and open source software.
  • History of effective advocacy for a cause (social, technical, artistic, etc.)
  • Strong interest in persuading people to change their behavior
  • Willingness to ask people and organizations for assistance (money, discounts, services, etc.)
  • Demonstrated understanding of principles of intersectional feminism, including trans-inclusiveness
  • Readiness to seek out and evaluate opinions from community and peers, without sacrificing mission or core values
  • High levels of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-examination skills
  • Desire to work with members of the press: give interviews, quotes, etc.
  • Willingness to admit when you and/or the organization are wrong and apologize sincerely (and publicly, if necessary)


  • Experience in interviewing, negotiating compensation, and leading a team (formally or informally, such as in volunteer community organization or conference organization)
  • Experience developing plans, setting targets and goals, and tracking performance against them
  • Experience developing budgets, monitoring spending, and containing costs in any context (work, home, volunteer activity, etc.)
  • Willingness to address performance issues and work with people to improve them
  • Comfortable with “bugging” people to get their status, finding out what is blocking them, and helping them get over roadblocks
  • Experience working with people remotely, especially in different time zones
  • Experience working across multiple cultures, researching differences and making adjustments as necessary
  • Ability to evaluate and make compromises necessary to living within a capitalist and patriarchal society
  • Experience fostering an environment of emotional support and encouragement
  • Good self-care habits that promote and support emotional resilience
  • Ability to set and enforce personal boundaries (e.g., saying “no” to requests from colleagues, family, friends, and strangers)
  • Comfortable with the use of laughter and appropriate humor with co-workers as a coping tactic for stressful situations and to prevent burn-out (e.g., sending funny cat pictures to each other)


  • History of successful online fundraising at any scale (Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc.), including asking people directly for money, setting goals, developing fundraising messages, and designing social media campaigns to support the goals
  • Willingness to say no to sponsors and donors (corporate, individual, government, etc.)
  • Ability to represent the organization well in written communication (with or without assistance)


  • Experienced user of at least one form of social media (Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc.)
  • Excellent email management skills: uses filters, labels, flags, stars, or some other system to respond to important emails in a timely manner
  • Basic spreadsheet skills: can sort on columns, use simple formulas, and format cells (or learn this quickly)
  • Comfortable with at least one form of online chat (Gchat, IRC, FB Messenger, etc.)
  • “Power user” level of familiarity and comfort with technology: you may not know all the software we use, and you definitely don’t have to write code, but you feel confident you can learn a new piece of software using the documentation, Google, and a few questions to a friend or co-worker

Bonus qualifications

Experience in the following areas will be looked on favorably, but is not required. We are happy to work with you to learn skills in areas you would like to develop.

  • Practical experience with the effects of living with multiple intersecting oppressions, such as gender (including genderqueer or trans folks), disability, race, class, etc.
  • Managing people under California employment law
  • Working with or serving on non-profit boards
  • Growing an early-stage organization
  • Advanced social media skills
  • Long-form blogging about technical, social, or personal topics
  • Leading remote teams
  • Public or inspirational speaking
  • Writing in a variety of styles, especially a warm, funny, informal style
  • Editing or proofreading
  • Writing editorials
  • Teaching, particularly interactively in a classroom or group setting
  • Programming, writing scripts, advanced spreadsheet skills, or similar skills


Hours: This is a salaried, full-time position (40 hours/week).

Salary range: $120,000 to $160,000 per year, depending on experience. This salary range takes into account what EDs of similar organizations are paid, the competitive market for the skills required for this job, and the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. We believe that paying people market rates for their work, regardless of their gender or race, is a feminist act.

Work rights: You must be eligible to work in the U.S. We are unable to sponsor visas at this time, sorry!

Location: You must be regularly available to work in person at our San Francisco offices, located 0.5 miles from the 24th St. and 16th St. BART stations, but we are open to flexible arrangements.  If you have accessibility needs that we can’t meet with our current offices, we will rent new office space that does meet them. We expect that you will need to work at least 2 days/week from the office in order to collaborate in-person with other Ada Initiative employees. The remainder of the time can be worked at home, in the office, or while traveling, as you prefer. Currently, the ED travels and/or speaks at events about 1-2 times a month. With a separate Director of Training Programs, required travel will probably drop to about 3-4 times a year.

Relocation: If you need to move for this job, we will pay reasonable relocation expenses, as negotiated.

Leave: We provide paid personal leave (20 days/year), company holidays (10 days/year), and sick leave (10 days/year). We also grant stress leave as necessary.

Family Leave: We aren’t required to give leave under the Family Medical Leave Act or California Family Rights Act, but we would like to provide similar leave for similar reasons because we think it is the right thing to do. We need to formalize this policy and the new ED would have strong influence on that decision-making process. Our current policies offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Dependent Care Assistance Program: We have a Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), which allows employees with children under age 13 to pay up to $5,000 in childcare expenses pre-tax.

Healthcare insurance: We pay 50% of the premium for high quality healthcare insurance for employees. Family members can also be covered but the employee pays the full cost of their premiums under our current policy. We hope to improve this coverage as our funding increases.

Our health insurance plan complies with California regulations on transgender health coverage (see for details). The plan covers hormone replacement therapy, gender dysphoria psychotherapy, and medical monitoring related to hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, none of the plans that health insurance carriers will offer to an organization of our size will cover gender reassignment surgery without a lengthy approval process. We will support anyone who goes through this process, and we support trans health care law reform that would eliminate this barrier.

Other benefits: At this time, we don’t yet offer a retirement savings plan or additional insurance. We expect our employee benefits to grow as the organization grows.


To apply, please contact [EMAIL ADDRESS] with a short introduction and your résumé (any format, linked or attached). A representative from the ED search committee, composed of members of our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, will reply within 2 weeks.

REMINDER: This job posting is for reference purposes only and is no longer open.

Announcing the end of the AdaCamp program

AdaCamp logo

We are deeply sorry to announce that the Ada Initiative will no longer run any more AdaCamp unconferences for women in open technology and culture. The recent departure of several staff members has left us without the capacity to run any more AdaCamps in 2015. In addition, AdaCamp has always cost more to run than we could raise in sponsorships, and that shows no signs of changing.

As a result, we have decided the most effective way to support women in open technology and culture is to stop running AdaCamps ourselves and instead open source the AdaCamp Toolkit – a collection of very detailed planning documents that lay out how to run an event like AdaCamp. We’ve already shared our AdaCamp policies for free re-use and will release the rest of the materials in the next month.

This is an incredibly difficult decision to make because we know that AdaCamp was literally life-changing for so many women. As a result of AdaCamp, women expanded their professional networks, founded new companies, overcame their Impostor Syndrome, moved into better jobs, got raises, built lasting friendships, and came out reinvigorated and inspired to make open technology and culture a better place. We don’t want this kind of revolutionary change to stop, which is why we are working on the final touches of the AdaCamp Toolkit and will release it free for use by all in the next month. We are excited by conferences such as &:conf and Open Source Bridge and recommend that would-be AdaCampers go to them.

As we have run only one of our four promised AdaCamps in 2015, we have offered a 100% refund to all of the AdaCamp 2015 sponsors, including Puppet LabsGoogle Montreal and Chrome, the Linux Foundation, Red Hat, Simple, Etsy, MongoDB, Plotly, Shopify and Engine Yard. Any funds left over will be used to help open source the AdaCamp Toolkit and further our work to support women in open technology and culture, such as the Ally Skills Workshop and Impostor Syndrome Training. We thank our sponsors again for their support of women in open technology and culture!

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

AdaCamp Portland attendees in 2014
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Thank you so much to everyone who made AdaCamp possible, and especially the women who attended and took part in sessions. Together, we raised the bar for what to expect from a conference: explicit consent for photographs, designated access lanes, delicious food for everyone’s needs, quiet rooms, affordable accommodations, screening of attendees, speedy handling of harassment, and clearly stated expectations for respectful behavior. Dozens of conferences are more welcoming to people with disabilities, people with food restrictions, introverted people, and people who just want a more respectful environment. We hope AdaCampers will continue to be leaders in improving the conference experience for everyone!

Thank you outgoing volunteers Rachel Chalmers and Camille Acey

The Ada Initiative would like to thank two long time Ada Initiative volunteers who have recently stepped back from a volunteer position with us. Thank you for your work with us, to Rachel Chalmers, who served as a member of our board of directors for more than four years since our founding in 2011, and to Camille Acey, who served as an advisor in 2014 and 2015. Best wishes for your activism and other work in future!

Apply now for the Ally Skills Workshop at Wikimania 2015

People sitting in chairs looking interested

CC BY-SA Christopher Schwarzkopf (WMDE)

We are excited to announce an Ally Skills Workshop specifically for Wikipedia editors and administrators, to be held at Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City, on Thursday July 16 from 2pm to 5pm in Don Diego 3. This workshop will focus specifically on the skills useful to editors and administrators of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, including how to best use Wikipedia policies to support women (or advocate for changes in policies). (Learn more about the workshop here.) Attendance is free of charge to Wikimania attendees. Apply now as space is extremely limited!

This workshop is made possible by a grant funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and created and supported by dozens of Wikimedians. If this workshop goes well, the Ada Initiative will apply for a grant to train Wikimedians to teach the Ally Skills Workshop to other Wikimedians around the world, with a special emphasis on reaching Wikipedia admins. If a large number of Wikipedia admins learn how to better support women, we could have a significant impact on Wikipedia’s gender gap!

If you know someone who is attending Wikimania and would like to support women in Wikipedia better, please encourage them to apply now. (Sorry, travel scholarships for Wikimania are already closed.) We encourage women to attend the workshop, as it works best with 20-40% women attendees. Thank you for helping us spread the word!

Apply now by filling out the form below, or by clicking here. We will contact you within 2 weeks to let you know if your application has been accepted. We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

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.

Growing the Ally Skills Workshop: WisCon Train-the-trainers report-out

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

The Ally Skills Workshop is spreading! We taught ten more people to teach the Ally Skills Workshop at WisCon in May 2015, thanks to the generous support of Ada Initiative donors. The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces. Over 2500 people have attended some form of the workshop and the Ada Initiative has directly trained over 35 people to teach it!

Ten students attended the train-the-trainers, coming from variety of fields including library technology, science fiction and fantasy fandom, and paleoecology. The class started with an example Ally Skills Workshop, which was followed by reviewing the facilitator’s guide in depth. In the afternoon, each student chose a scenario and led the discussion, choosing whether or not they wanted feedback on their work. We ended with a half-hour Q&A session where everyone got to ask their questions and make suggestions.

If you are interested in an Ally Skills Workshop at your workplace or organization, or want to learn more about teaching a workshop yourself, contact us at for more information.

Thank you again to WisCon, the world’s premier feminist science fiction convention, for graciously hosting us and providing space and equipment for the workshop!