Category Archives: Scholarships and grants

Women at Hacker School: Three perspectives

This is a guest post by Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock. Nicholas is a cofounder of Hacker School, a free, three-month retreat for people who want to become better programmers.

In the past, we’ve written on the Hacker School blog about everything from what people do at Hacker School to mistakes we’ve made to how we’ve tried to eliminate subtle sexism and racism.

For this post, I’ve asked three alumnae to share their experiences, and what they got out of Hacker School.

An important thing to know is that Hacker Schoolers hail from a tremendously diverse range of backgrounds. Some have worked professionally as programmers, and others are just a few months into learning to code. Some have studied computer science, and others are purely self-taught. Some are looking to transition careers, and others just enjoy programming and want to spend three months honing their craft.

Below, three Hacker School alumnae share in their own words their experiences and what they got out of Hacker School.


Photograph of Hacker School participants pair-programming and drinking coffee

Hacker School participants

As my youngest child approached college and I thought about resuming my software development career after ten years at home, I faced the seemingly insurmountable problem of catching up on the dramatic changes in technology that had occurred over the time that I was out and proving that I could program well in the current environment. Hacker School was the means by which I was able to successfully overcome those challenges.

At Hacker School, I learned about the state of technology in so many different ways, through sessions put together by staff or fellow Hacker Schoolers, through formal talks by residents, through discussions in the internal chat system and in casual interactions throughout the day. I had focused time to program and, when I needed it, guidance about what to do and what tools to use. I came out of Hacker School with a much greater understanding of the architecture of the web and current software development practices, and with a body of work to show that I could still program.

Hacker School also provided a lot of support in terms of finding a job, from interview prep through making it easy to connect with a lot of great companies and guidance about which would be good fits. I am thrilled with the job that I recently started and am certain that I would not be where I am without my Hacker School experience.

About Stacey: Stacey came to Hacker School from New Jersey, and is now an engineer at Dropbox.


I decided to come to Hacker School to work on projects that were outside of my comfort zone and to feel more confident about my technical skills. The environment at Hacker School provided a safe space for me to make progress in both these areas.

Hacker Schoolers consistently respected one another, so I learned not to be afraid or embarrassed by what I didn’t know. The diversity of the group made it much easier for me to focus more on being productive than being concerned about representing a particular demographic. It was also a great opportunity to interact with kind and intelligent people from a variety of different technical and cultural backgrounds! I would recommend Hacker School to anyone who is hoping to find a welcoming community.

About Danielle: Danielle came to Hacker School from Montreal, and is finishing her final year at McGill University studying biology and computer science.


Hacker School participants working on laptops

Hacker School participants

Two years ago, I was an Engineer at Boeing. After a while, my favorite part of going to work was automating my job, rather than just doing it. I decided I wanted to change careers, but wasn’t sure how. I didn’t have a computer science degree or professional programming experience, and I didn’t want to go back to school.

But one day, I stumbled across Hacker School’s website. It was everything I was looking for — free, with job placement after, and it even had grants for women so I’d be able to pay for living in NYC for three months.

When the program started, it was even better than I had imagined! The people are amazing, and I had something to learn from every single person in the room. And even though I was new to programming, there was something I could teach every single person in the room. Hacker School’s social rules helped to create an incredibly comfortable environment.

After my batch was over, I chose to take a job as a Software Engineer at Venmo. I love what I do now. I get to solve interesting problems, work with amazing people, and learn something new every day.

About Alex: Alex came to Hacker School from Washington State, and is now an engineer at Venmo.

If you want to spend three months focusing on becoming a better programmer as part of a welcoming and diverse community, you should apply to Hacker School. We accept applications on a rolling basis, and while the advertised deadline for the winter 2014 batch has just passed, we still have some spaces available.

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


Guest post: Scholarships for women speakers at PuppetConf

This is a guest post by Dawn Foster, Director of Community at Puppet Labs, the leading provider of IT automation software for system administrators. Puppet Labs is a founding sponsor of Ada Initiative and a repeat sponsor of AdaCamp.

About 30 women smiling at the camera in a hotel ballroom

Women’s breakfast at PuppetConf 2013

With PuppetConf 2014 coming up on September 23 – 24 in San Francisco, we recently began accepting proposals for PuppetConf 2014 talks, and we would love to see more proposals from women this year! You can submit your talk proposal any time through March 18, 2014. [Ed. note: Feel like you aren’t good enough to speak at PuppetConf? Take our free online Impostor Syndrome training.]

To further encourage you to submit a proposal, we are offering a limited number of travel scholarships for female speakers who would like to receive help paying for travel to the event. This scholarship is for women who submit talk proposals that are accepted by the selection committee. All self-identified women are eligible to apply, and it’s as easy as checking the box on the call for papers submission form.

This is your chance to talk about all the interesting ways you are using Puppet technologies in your environment! We are looking for sessions that range from how-to information for beginners to advanced topics for experts, and everything in between. Talks are not limited to Puppet, either. We also want to have talks about related tools, DevOps culture, configuration management improvements, and other information about how to make working in operations a better experience. We have a big list of potential topics on the CFP submission form if you want a few more ideas about what we would like to see.

Here are some great sessions from last year if you want to get a better feel for the types of talks that we had at PuppetConf 2013.

You can watch all of the videos and see the presentations by visiting the PuppetConf 2013 video page.

Last year, we had a women’s breakfast, which was open to all self-identified women attending PuppetConf. When we do something similar this year, I hope to have a much larger group! You can be part of this year’s breakfast by submitting your talk. We hope you will encourage other women to propose talks too.

I hope to see many of you at PuppetConf 2014! Don’t forget that submissions are due by midnight PDT on March 18, 2014. But don’t wait for the last minute, submit your talk now.

Outreach Program for Women: "The impact that the program has had on the participating free software projects has been profound"

The Outreach Program for Women (OPW) is a paid internship program in open source — both programming and other contributions — for anyone who was assigned female at birth and anyone who identifies as a woman, genderqueer, genderfluid, or genderfree regardless of gender presentation or assigned sex at birth. Applications for the December 2013 to March 2014 internship program are now open, closing November 11.

OPW is run by the GNOME Foundation and includes internships in several open source projects, including GNOME, Debian, Fedora, the Linux kernel and Mozilla. The Ada Initiative is excited to see this program expanding each year and proud to count its co-organizers, Marina Zhurakhinskaya of Red Hat and Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation, among our advisory board members.

With the deadline for applications closing soon, we asked Karen Sandler to talk about the successes of OPW to date and plans for the future.

Q. What are the most exciting changes since you and Marina Zhurakhinskaya took over the program?

Photograph of Karen Sandler

Karen Sandler, GNOME Foundation ED and co-lead of OPW

Karen: I think the most exciting change was expanding the program beyond GNOME to other free software projects. We were having such a good result with the program within GNOME, we just couldn’t keep it to ourselves! We now have over 20 participating free software organizations. With that has come a lot of other great changes, like having others help us to organize and promote the program within their own communities and to the public. Sarah Sharp is a great example of this, working to build the participation of women in the Linux kernel.

One of the things that I love about the program is that many of the women who come through it wind up being our best advocates. Some of our former participants have gone on to speak about the program at conferences and in their communities. Some other participants become mentors in future rounds. One participant now serves on GNOME’s board of directors and is our treasurer. So as the program progresses more people become active in shaping it. We’ve been growing it organically within GNOME infrastructure so as the program expands beyond GNOME it benefits from the influence of new mentors and advocates.

I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention another exciting change that isn’t within the program per se, but is more of a change to the rest of GNOME from the program: as a result of the Outreach Program for Women all of our mentorship and ability to get newcomers started has improved within GNOME. The program is modeled after Google’s Summer of Code, so we had good experience with formally inviting people to work on time-limited projects with us. For OPW, however, we thought critically about what could be keeping women away from free software and introduced changes to overcome those obstacles. For example, Marina realized that making the initial contribution could be the hardest part – just getting started. So we require making a contribution as part of the application process and put in mechanisms to assist women with their very first steps in contributing. We identify mentors and specific places where they can be contacted. This has been so helpful that we now do the same for [Google Summer of Code (GSoC)]. It’s improved the quality of our applications and has the additional benefit of letting all newcomers know who and where to ask for help. And, in the context of OPW, even women who are not accepted to the program can walk away knowing that they are contributors to a free software project.

Q. What do you recommend to OPW interns to get the most out of the experience?

Karen: I think one of the most important things is to stay in contact with your mentor and others in the team that you are working with. This is probably good advice for anyone getting started contributing to a free software project actually. Letting people know what you’re working on and how it’s going is the best way to get help when you need it and also to get people to care about what you are doing. We require participants to blog at least every other week, but frequent blogging makes you more visible to others in the project which helps build relationships and create opportunities to have your work more fully integrated into the project. It also means that folks will be excited to see you and will know who you are when you come to their conference!

Q. Introduce us to some of the interns from the 2013 mid-year round, and their projects?

Karen: We had 37 participants this past round, so there are too many great internships to recount. But here are three that popped to my mind:

Jessica Tallon worked on federation support for GNU MediaGoblin via the Pump API with Joar Wandborg as her mentor. She rewrote PyPump so now images can be successfully submitted to MediaGoblin via PyPump and commenting via PyPump works too. Her wrapup post is here.

Lidza Louina worked on the Linux Kernel improving drivers in the staging tree with Greg Kroah-Hartman as her mentor. Lidza started out by doing driver cleanup, then went on to merge two TTY drivers into the staging tree that had been out-of-tree since 2005. That involved getting them to compile, updating the drivers to work with new kernel API, and cleaning them up to match kernel coding style. Lidza contributed 18 patches to the 3.11 kernel, and 62 patches to the 3.12 kernel (as of 3.12-rc2). Lidza gave a lightning talk about her project at LinuxCon North America on September 18, 2013. You can see her slides and her weekly summaries.

Tiffany Yau’s internship was with GNOME’s Engagement team for marketing (she even weighed in on whether to change the team’s name from Marketing to Engagment). Her mentors were Allan Day and Sri Ramkrishna. Tiffany helped us do much better at drawing attention to and promoting GUADEC, among other marketing tasks. She was completely focused and helped log all of the happenings of the event while also filming short interviews with key people in the GNOME project. As a result, his year’s GUADEC was a vast improvement marketingwise than previous years. You can see her work included here.

Q. What happens to the interns in the longer term? Do they stay in free and open source software and/or use their skills in employment?

Karen: We actually don’t have great statistics on this as we haven’t formally been tracking it. I do know that about half of GNOME’s participants have continued to contribute after their internship is over, which is pretty great. Anecdotally, I know that the internships help the participants focus their career paths and give them a resume boost in addition to confidence building. I think our program is having a substantial impact and as it grows we’ll be able to collect more actual data. Most importantly, the participants get a real sense of free and open source software and what it’s like to be a regular contributor.

It’s a little outside of your question, but the impact that the program has had on the participating free software projects has been profound and worth mentioning. One example I can easily point to is that Wikimedia had in the past only one woman apply for GSoC. After they participated in one round with OPW, they had 7 accepted GSoC students who were women. In the GNOME project, we’ve had a very visible changes. Women are participating in our top level discussions and are always present on Planet GNOME. While we started at 4% women in attendance at GUADEC in 2009, this year we had about 18% participation by women with 22% of the speakers being women. It’s been a phenomenal change. I encourage anyone who’s interested in the program (as a mentor, sponsor or participating organization) to contact me or Marina and to encourage awesome women to apply!

To learn more about the OPW, visit the program webpage. Applications for the December 2013 to March 2014 internship program are now open, closing November 11.

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

Apply today: Linux kernel internships through Outreach Program for Women

Linux FoundationThe Linux Foundation is sponsoring the first ever Linux kernel internships offered through the Outreach Program for Women. The internships pay $5000, plus a $500 travel grant to the LinuxCon North America conference in New Orleans, Louisiana in September.

If you identify as a woman, genderqueer, or genderfluid, have ever wanted to learn to develop the Linux kernel, and have the free time to work on the internship, you should apply now! The deadline to finish your application is May 17, 2013, but please start your application by May 1.

Not sure you can write a good application? Lots of help is available: you can join a mailing list, ask questions on IRC, or email the mentors directly. You are encouraged to start your application now, and finish it by May 17th using any of these avenues for help.

We’re thrilled that the Linux Foundation and their mentors are taking this major step towards increasing diversity in the Linux kernel development community. Thank you, Linux Foundation, for creating these internships!

Systers Spring 2013 Pass-It-On Awards: applications open, apply by April 10

Kristin Potter writes:

The Anita Borg Systers Pass-It-On (PIO) Awards honor Anita Borg’s desire to create a network of technical women helping one another. The cash awards, funded exclusively by donations from the Systers Online Community, are intended as means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in the fields of technology. The program is called “Pass-It-On” because it comes with the moral obligation to “pass on” the benefits gained from the award.

Women of all ages (over 18), nationalities, and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply for the Spring 2013 round is Wednesday April 10, 2013 at 12:00noon PST (UT-8)

Reference letters are due on Wednesday April 24, 2013 at 5:00 PM PST (UT-8).

If you would like to apply, or know of a woman in technology who would like to apply, you can read about the awards online at Systers Pass-It-On Awards Program.

Guidelines for completing the online application form for this award are available online.

The application form for Spring 2013 cycle of the Systers Pass-it-on Awards is online.

Please help us publicize the PIO awards to your professional and social networks and encourage your peers to apply.

Got open tech and culture news to share with women in the Ada Initiative’s community? Email

Wikimania 2013 scholarships: contributors to free knowledge, free software, collaborative and/or educational initiatives encouraged to apply

Wikimania 2013, the annual international conference of the Wikimedia movement, will be held from 7–11 August, 2013, in Hong Kong. Applications for travel scholarships are now open and close on February 22.

Eligibility (who can apply for a scholarship): Any active contributor to a Wikimedia project and/or Wikimedia volunteer in any other capacity, from anywhere in the world, is considered eligible. Participants in other free knowledge, free software, collaborative and/or educational initiatives are also encouraged to apply.

Selection: All applications for scholarship are reviewed by the scholarship committee. Applicants will be rated on the following four dimensions: activity within Wikimedia (50% of total score), activity outside Wikimedia (15% of total score), interest in Wikimania and the Wikimedia movement (25% of total score) and fluency of English language (10% of total score).

To apply for a scholarship to aid in covering expenses for Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong, please submit a completed application form by 22 February 2013 23:59 UTC.

— the editors of the Wikimania 2013 website

For more information, see the Wikimania scholarships page.

Got open tech and culture news to share with women in the Ada Initiative’s community? Email

Apply to Hacker School in New York City: needs-based assistance for women attendees (deadline Jan 1)

Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock writes:

Hacker School is a three-month, full-time school in New York forbecoming a better programmer. It’s like a writers retreat for hackers. Tuition is free, and we provide space, a little structure, time to focus, and a friendly community of smart people dedicated to self-improvement.

We strive to make Hacker School the best environment to learn and grow as a programer. Towards that end, we have explicit social rules (e.g., no “well, actuallys,” no “feigning surprise,” no “subtle sexism”), we aim for gender parity (our past two batches were 37-45% female), and we host amazing people as programmers in residence who work directly with students (last batch: Jessica McKellar, Peter Seibel, Alex Payne, Stefan Karpinski, and David Nolen).

Tuition is free, and we provide $5000, need-based grants to women for living expenses.

We value free software, beautiful code, and personal growth. Apply now to be part of our winter 2013 batch, which begins in February.

You can also learn about the type of people we look for and if we’d be a fit for you.

Ada Initiative notes: the next Hacker School program runs full-time in New York City from February 11 until May 2, 2013. Applications are due by January 1.

Got open tech and culture news to share with women in the Ada Initiatives community? Email The Geek Feminism wiki has further outreach channels for women in open source.