Category Archives: Events for women in open tech and culture

Guest post: Annual Open Hardware Ada Fellowship – Call is Open!!

This is a guest post from Addie Wagenknecht and Alicia Gibb of the Open Hardware Association.

The Open Hardware Summit will take place on September 30th and October 1, 2014 in Rome as part of their Innovation Week. This is the first time the summit will take place outside of the US.

For the second year in the row, the Summit team is excited to offer up to five Open Hardware Fellowships which include a $1000 travel stipend and an evening out with select speakers and chairs of the Open Hardware Summit for woman and/or significantly female-identified members of the open source community.

The application can be filled out here. The Deadline to Apply is August 14th by 12pm EST, notifications will be sent out by August 18th.

The Ada Initiative, an organization supporting women in open tech and culture, will assist us with the selection process. By offering travel assistance again this year, the Open Source Hardware Association hopes we as a community can encourage more women to participate in future years of the Open Hardware Summit. We have many strong women leaders and speakers in our field and we personally want to continue the trend upward.

This is a crucial time in open source where we have the opportunity to shape the future of the whole field together.  We invite you to contact us about sponsoring the scholarships. We are just on the edge of what is possible, Let’s do this!

See you in Rome,

Addie Wagenknecht / @wheresaddie + Alicia Gibb / @pipx and all the women of the open hardware association / @ohsummit


Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos: Video, transcript, slides, and summary now available

A full length oil portrait of a woman in 19th c. dress

Ada Lovelace

How has the perception of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, changed through history? What does that changing view say about us as a society? That’s the subject of “Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos,” the keynote at the world’s first conference celebrating the achievements of Countess Ada Lovelace, hosted at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora was honored to give the keynote speech at this historic conference.

Now you can watch the video (with transcript), read the transcript alone, or read the slides of the whole talk here. A summary of the talk is at the end of this post.

As part of our mission to support women in open tech/culture, we work hard to make the video and transcript of Ada Initiative talks available to as many people as possible. Transcripts are surprisingly cheap and fast to create. We use and recommend StenoKnight CART Services, whose proprietor, Mirabai Knight, is also leader of the open source software stenography project, Plover. Make your videos accessible to those who can’t or don’t want to watch them and support women in open tech/culture, all at the same time!

Talk summary

Today, Countess Ada Lovelace is known primarily as the world’s first computer programmer, having published in 1843 a program written for an early computer designed (but never built) by Charles Babbage. But our view of Lovelace has changed significantly over time, starting with her early fame as the poet Lord Byron’s daughter and extending into deeply personal book-length attacks on her personality and accomplishments.

This talk discusses the changing perception of Ada Lovelace from her birth to 2013, with emphasis on how this reflects the importance of computing and the perceptions of women’s proper roles in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In Lovelace’s lifetime, science and mathematics were considered an appropriate leisure time pursuit of upper class Victorian society, including the occasional woman as long as she did not intrude too far. Today, women are still excluded from STEM at greater rates than men, but we also have a greater understanding of how this is happening and much wider agreement that we need to end discrimination against women in STEM. Over the same period of time, computers went from interesting curiousities to crucial components in multi-billion dollar industries and the military-industrial complex. What was once an unimportant piece of trivia – who wrote the first computer program – became a hotly contested symbol of the struggle to define who should be included in the computer revolution and who should be “naturally” left out.

In the end, all the popular versions of the Ada Lovelace mythos – world’s first computer programmer, Lord Byron’s daughter, delusional mentally ill gambler – are incomplete and often perpetuate harmful stereotypes about women in STEM. The talk ends with some proposals for new, more complex stories we could tell about Ada Lovelace, as a brilliant and flawed human being with variety of interests, who happened to see farther into the future of computing than anyone else for the next hundred years.

Ada Lovelace conference report-out

Last week was the world’s first conference celebrating the achievements of Countess Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer. Ada Initiative Executive Director Valerie Aurora attended and has this report-out:

Three women squinting into the sun

Dr. Robin Hammerman, Sydney Padua, and Valerie Aurora (CC-BY SA Dr. Robin Hammerman)

I never thought I’d have breakfast with two Ada Lovelace experts, much less go to an entire conference full of them! The first conference celebrating Ada Lovelace’s life and accomplishments was everything I had hoped for: a wide variety of papers and discussions on Lovelace’s work, the science fiction inspired by her life and times, issues affecting women in computer science, and the broader societal implications of her story.

One of our goals at the Ada Initiative is to give women varied and interesting role models in open technology and culture. This conference showed Ada Lovelace as a complex, multi-dimensional person who lived an exciting (if short) life. Besides writing an incredibly prescient paper on the potential of computing, she rode horses, played the harp, bet way too much money on horse races, had secret affairs, went to all the best scientific salons, suffered through various health problems, and was both close friends and colleagues with one of the most interesting people in Victorian-era society, the scientist, mathematician, and engineer Charles Babbage.

When I was a university student studying computer science and mathematics, I always resented the pressure to focus only on programming and give up my interests in music, literature, and art. I felt like I finally fit in at this conference, which was intentionally interdisciplinary, much like the host university, the Stevens Institute of Technology. The Ada Lovelace conference was a perfect fit for Stevens, which is engineering-oriented but strongly values an education in the arts and humanities as well.

Black and white poster with cartoon Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage holding silly sci-fi guns with the text "Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime"

Sydney Padua’s Lovelace and Babbage comic

For me, the highlight of the conference was getting to meet Sydney Padua in person, the artist behind The Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. I couldn’t believe our luck when she agreed to help the Ada Initiative’s very first fundraiser by creating a custom print for our Seed 100 donors and I was looking forward to thanking her in person. Sydney had many interesting and insightful things to say about the Lovelace-Babbage friendship, historical trends in their reputations, and changes in the gender ratio of computer animators. She also gave us a sneak preview of her upcoming graphic novel!

My keynote address, “Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos,” was well-attended, thanks in part to it being part of the Provost’s Lecture Series on Women in Leadership and open to the public. The talk was recorded and we will post it on the Ada Initiative web site when it is available (with captioning, of course).

Two women, a river, and downtown Manhattan

Sydney, Valerie, and the Manhattan skyline (CC-BY SA Dr. Robin Hammerman)

The faculty of the host university, the Stevens Institute of Technology, were all incredibly warm and welcoming, especially the conference organizer, Dr. Robin Hammerman. She told me that Stevens recently succeeded in increasing the percentage of women students to 30%, quite an accomplishment in a technology-oriented institution. Their dedication and creativity in making their school more attractive to and supportive of women gives me hope for the Ada Initiative’s goals and women in STEM in general. (Plus they have a fantastic view of downtown Manhattan from half of campus!)

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible: all the speakers, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Dr. Robin Hammerman especially!

Tickets on sale now for women in free/open source software conference, Flossie 2013

This is a guest post from Paula Graham, organizer of the Flossie 2013 conference for women in free/libre and open source software (FLOSS).

Get your tickets for Flossie 2013 now!

Flossie 2013 brings together FLOSS women developers, entrepreneurs, researchers and policy-makers, digital artists and social innovators for an exciting mix of talks, spontaneous discussions and open workshops. Flossie 2013 brings the benefits of open thinking to artist and entrepreneurs and the insights of diverse innovators to FLOSS development. Flossie 2013 is located in London.

Download the Programme for Flossie 2013 here

Register for Flossie 2013 now – tickets are going fast!

Flossie 2013 builds on last year’s success with new threaded mini-events: Google and Mozilla coders will be evaluating contributions to our Open CodeSprint and we are also combining students of architecture and product design with disability communities, makers and coders to explore and prototype Smart Assistive Environments innovation for Living Aids industry partners and is part of AHRC-funded participatory design research fieldwork.

For more information or to take part in the CodeSprint:

For more information or to take part in the Diversifying Internet of Things project:

This year’s theme is DIVERSITY – women, LGBTQ and men with an interest in diversifying technology are welcome to attend and the building offers wheelchair access, please note our diversity and anti-harassment policy here

#flossie2013 | @flossienet | Facebook | |

Puppet Labs is giving away 5 free tickets to PuppetConf for women in IT/ops/sysadmin, applications close 9am August 20th PDT

Puppetconf 2013: Join us in San Francisco August 22-23 at the Fairmont Hotel in San FranciscoLong-time Ada Initiative sponsor Puppet Labs is offering 5 free tickets to PuppetConf to women in systems administration, operations, or IT roles. PuppetConf focuses on automating systems administration through the open source Puppet systems configuration software. PuppetConf is this Thursday and Friday, August 22 – 23, 2013, in San Francisco, California.

PuppetConf also includes a women’s breakfast, 8am to 9am on Friday morning, where you can meet other women interested in systems administration. It is open to all self-identified women attending PuppetConf. Ada Initiative executive director Valerie Aurora will be attending the breakfast and looks forward to meeting all of you!

To apply, please fill out the application form before 9am August 20th, Pacific time. Update: We awarded 8 tickets in all! Thank you so much, Puppet Labs!

A woman wearing a shawl standing in front of tropical vegetationDo you want to support women in free and open source software? The Ada Initiative is a non-profit dedicated to supporting women in open technology and culture, including free and open source software. Our programs include the AdaCamp unconference for women in open tech/culture, Impostor Syndrome training, and making conferences safer for women. Donate now and support women in open source! Our fundraising drive ends August 30th, 2013.

Donate now

10 fellowships for women to attend the Open Hardware Summit, applications close August 18th

This is a guest post from Addie Wagenknecht, Chair of the 2013 Open Hardware Summit.

CC-BY-SA Adam NovakThe 2013 Open Hardware Summit will take place on September 6, 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The annual conference is organized by the Open Source Hardware Association, and features speakers, demos, and panel discussions centered on the topic of the Open Source movement.

Speakers this year include world renowned leaders from industry, academia, and the maker community such as Becky Stern, Director of Wearables at Adafruit, Marcin Jakubowski, Founder of the Open Ecology Project, Amanda “W0z” Wozniak, Engineer at Wyss Institute, and Eben Moglen, Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center.

This year the Summit team is excited to team up with the Ada Initiative to offer five Open Hardware Fellowships for women. These fellowships include a $500 travel stipend and admission to the Summit. In addition there will be five Fellowship tickets for women for admission (sans travel stipend) to the Summit.

To apply, please fill out the application form before the end of the day August 18th, Pacific time. Update: We had so many strong applications that we awarded 6 tickets and 7 travel scholarships, and still couldn’t grant one to every person who deserved it. Thank you to all the women who applied and hope to see you next year!

My hope is by offering women the option to attend by offering the Open Hardware Fellowships that we as a community can encourage more women to participate actively in future years. At my first internship, there was no women’s bathroom in the office. Now we have many strong women leaders and speakers in our field and I personally want to continue the trend. I hope by inviting you into this community, I can support you as others have supported me.

This is a crucial time in open hardware where we can shape the future of the whole field together. We are just on the edge of what is possible. Let’s do this!

I really look forward to meeting you at MIT. See you at the Summit!

Addie Wagenknecht (@wheresaddie and @ohsummit)

Do you want to support women in open hardware? The Ada Initiative is a non-profit dedicated to supporting women in open technology and culture, including open hardware. Our advisory board includes Alicia Gibb, founder of the Open Source Hardware Association. Our programs include the AdaCamp unconference for women in open tech/culture, Impostor Syndrome training, and making conferences safer for women. Donate now and support women in open hardware! Our fundraising drive ends August 30th, 2013.

Donate now

Ada Initiative keynote at first Ada Lovelace conference, October 17 – 18

New Ada Lovelace sticker

New Ada Lovelace sticker

The Ada Initiative will be giving the opening keynote for the first Ada Lovelace conference! Check out our recent posts about the upcoming interdisciplinary conference about Ada Lovelace’s achievements and legacy, to take place on October 17 – 18, 2013 at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Executive Director Valerie Aurora will open the conference with a discussion about the mythos of Ada Lovelace: the stories we tell about her, what those stories say about us, and what stories we might tell instead. Based on a discussion at the most recent AdaCamp unconference, we’ll explore how even the most positive stories about her are incomplete and one-dimensional. Was she simply the world’s first computer programmer? A delusional self-aggrandizing pseudo-intellectual? Or something much more complex: a scientist and philosopher who viewed computation, mathematics, poetry, and philosophy as an interelated whole?

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

2D Goggles: Sydney Padua’s creative alternate history

When it comes to fictional stories about Ada Lovelace’s life and times, steampunk portrays an alternate history in which Charles Babbages’ engines been built after all and the computing age began in the 1850’s. But they often show a modern, one-dimensional view of computing as primarily industrial and technical tools. Based on her writings, computation influenced by Ada Lovelace would have included from the beginning more artistic and humanist applications than the mere collation of statistics envisioned by technicians like Babbage. What would an alternate history of computing really look like if you take into account Lovelace’s influence, philosophy, and ideas?

If this sounds interesting, you can register for the conference now. We are incredibly excited about this historic conference, and hope to see you there!

Ada Initiative meetup in Portland, Tuesday 7pm – 9pm

Women in open tech/cultureThe Ada Initiative is organizing a meetup during the Open Source Bridge conference in Portland, Oregon, at 7pm – 9pm on Tuesday June 17, 2013. We will meet at Huber’s Cafe in downtown Portland, a friendly restaurant and bar famous for its flaming Spanish Coffee. You are invited, whether you are attending Open Source Bridge or not!

Huber’s Cafe
411 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204

7pm – 9pm, Tuesday June 17
Ask for reservation for “Aurora”

Lukas Blakk, panelist

Lukas Blakk, panelist

The Ada Initiative’s Valerie Aurora is moderating a panel on good news for diversity in open source at Open Source Bridge 2013, along with Ashe Dryden, Sumana Harihareswara, Lukas Blakk, Asheesh Laroia, and Liz Henry. Can’t be there in person? The session will be recorded and available for free on the OSBridge web site.

Reminder: visit the Ada Initiative feminist hacker lounge at PyCon this week!

Ada Initiative advisors Lukas Blakk and Liz Henry write:

PyCon 2013 logo

At this year’s annual USA Python conference — PyCon in Santa Clara, California, March 15–17 — the Ada Initiative will have a booth  in the Exhibition hall, set up as a feminist hacker lounge.  In partnership with Mozilla, the booth will provide space to chill out during the conference with other attendees.   Brainstorm with feminist Python hackers on projects you’re currently working on or are just now dreaming up!

Throughout the three days of the conference we will have some organized Birds-Of-a-Feather (BOF) events on various topics. Come check out the booth schedule and say hello! Snacks will be provided and we also have fabulous stickers. Previous Python programming experience is not required to hang out with us.

Note that unfortunately no last-minute registrations for PyCon 2013 are available: the event sold out in February.

Women who are registered for the conference and attending on March 16 may also be interested in the PyLadies lunch, register ASAP to make sure there’s a place for you.

Call for Participation: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (closes March 15)

Submissions are now open for the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to be held October 2–5, 2013 in Minneapolis.

Submissions are encouraged from college students and professionals at all levels—from undergraduate students to entry-level industry employees to senior women in industry, government, and academia. Technical women and those who work with them (including technical men, corporate recruiters, nonprofit advocates, etc.) are all welcome to submit session proposals.

This is a great opportunity to gain professional visibility as a subject matter expert, expand your network and advance your career.

This year’s conference will focus on key areas where emerging technologies are having dramatic impact. They are: Software Engineering, Mobile Experiences, Media & Entertainment,
 Medical Technology and 
Education Technology.

Submissions are due by March 15, 11:59 PM (PST) or March 16th 2:59 AM (EST).

Find out more at the Call for Participation web page.