Category Archives: Sponsorship and donations

Great design as activism: Real talk from "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker designer Amelia Greenhall

The evolution of the f-word sticker design

The evolution of the f-word sticker design (get yours here)

Once you see it, you won’t forget it: the dynamic and attention-getting Not afraid to say the F-word: FEMINISM sticker by Amelia Greenhall. This sticker is the Ada Initiative’s thank-you gift for its 2014 fundraising drive (only available till October 8, 2014, so donate now!).

Smiling woman

Amelia Greenhall

Amelia works at the intersection of design, user experience, and data visualization. She’s the Executive Director and co-founder of Double Union, a non-profit feminist community workshop, and co-founded the publication Model View Culture. She spends her time reading, writing, biking, climbing, and working on interesting things. We asked Amelia to tell us more about her amazing sticker design.

How did you come up with the idea for the sticker?

Feminism as a “dirty word” is a concept that’s funny because it strikes at the truth of the matter: a lot of people and organizations ARE afraid to say it. The Ada Initiative was one of the first woman-focused tech organizations to actually say the word “feminism.” Their work has profoundly changed tech culture, and part of it comes from opening up the ability to identify publicly as a feminist in tech. They’ve brought many of us who aren’t afraid to say “the F-word” together – and given us a way to do something about the problem, by funding the Ada Initiative’s work.

The sticker sure is eye-catching! It feels like it has many levels to it, despite being all black and white. How did you achieve that?

From the beginning, I knew I would work with hand lettering for this design because I wanted to create an organic form that stands out against the mass of vectorized, illustrator’d shapes on a laptop. I wanted the fundraiser sticker to be a refreshing visual break from tech culture’s dominant (current) forms, to echo how TAI represents changing tech culture to me.

Ink bottles and brushes

Amelia’s workspace, with ink and brush

I started by drawing potential layouts in my sketchbook until I found a rough shape that took advantage of the die cut. Then I used brushes and india ink to letter the phrases “Not afraid to” “F-word” in many different ways, and scanned those in at a super high DPI to capture all the little details in the brushstrokes.

Many different handwritten versions of the words "F-word: Feminism" and similar words

Intermediate sketches of the f-word sticker design

Using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet, I moved parts of the scans around until I found a combination of lettering that was playful and eye catching, and easy to read at the size I wanted to print the sticker.

Photoshop screenshot showing level adjustment

The sticker does have many levels! Working from scans of hand lettering let me use Photoshop tools like “Invert” and “Levels” to bring out the natural variations in the ink painted on paper. I wanted to hit a charcoal tint in the background and bring out the rich variations of ink in the letters.

How important are design and memorable images to feminist activism?

So incredibly crucial! One of the things we’re doing with our feminist activism is building our own community and design and memorable images are a huge part in building a movement. We need a visual language to talk about it with, to identify with and gather round. Imagery of high heels and business suits alone won’t cut it. To represent all of us working to improve tech culture – we need things that speak our own language, have tech snark, incorporate our memes. We need propaganda! Especially physical objects like stickers, buttons, totes, and posters – to act as signposts. Things that say “this is us, this is what we stand for!”

Will you be putting this sticker on something you own?

Yes! I’m primarily a printmaker, which means I design so many things that get printed in multiples that I couldn’t possibly keep everything around or my apartment would fill up! But this is a sticker that easily makes the cut.

Here’s how it looks on my laptop!

Silver laptop with f-word sticker on it

What I appreciate about stickers like this one is that they’re so great for signaling affinity. I know that if I see another “F-word” sticker across the room at a coffeeshop or conference, that person is someone who’s also trying to make tech better – someone I may want to go talk to! I also like that this sticker starts conversations – it’s definitely something that catches the eye.

I am a huge fan of the Ada Initiative’s work changing tech culture, so I love when people ask about the sticker – I get a chance to introduce someone to conference anti-harassment policies or ally skills workshops!

Do you say the f-word? F-F-FEMINISM! Donate $128 or more (or $10 a month) to the Ada Initiative before October 8 and receive the F-word sticker as a thank you gift for supporting our work for women in open technology and culture!

Donate now

Conference anti-harassment work in skeptic communities, 2014 edition: more victims speak out as the world takes notice

[Trigger warning for sexual harassment and assault]

It’s been another difficult year for opponents of sexual harassment and assault in the skeptic community and related communities such as atheism and science, as prominent figures accused of harassment and assault continued to be celebrated and defended by some of the community. However, signs of change continue, with others speaking up publicly about their own and their colleagues’ experiences of harassment and assault.

Keep reading for our updated history of conference anti-harassment work in the skeptic community (with some related events from the science blogging community), adding the events from October 2013 to September 2014. Part of anti-harassment work is giving credit where credit is due, so we hope you take a minute to read through and honor the many different voices that have worked hard to make skepticism more welcoming, sometimes without recognition or fanfare for years. This entire post is licensed CC BY-SA the Ada Initiative – please feel free to reuse and remix according to the terms of the license!

Remember: Conference anti-harassment campaigns do work – they “just” take several years of dedicated effort to succeed.

Table of contents

  1. About the authors
  2. Summary of the skeptic anti-harassment campaign
  3. Detailed timeline (skip to the updates)
  4. What’s changed in 2014
  5. How you can help
  6. Sources and resources

About the authors

Mary and Valerie laughing

Mary and Valerie
(CC BY-SA Adam Novak)

As a non-profit supporting women in open technology and culture, the Ada Initiative cares deeply about ending harassment in geek communities. Our co-founders, Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora, co-authored the most widely used example anti-harassment policy, hosted on the Geek Feminism Wiki. The Ada Initiative’s first project was advocating full-time for the adoption of policies in the open source community, often working directly with conference organizers and community leaders as advisors and coaches.

If you find our work inspiring, we hope you will join skeptics in supporting the Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment work. We can only do this work with the support of people like you!

Donate now

Summary of the skepticism and atheism campaign

The big picture: In 2010, few or no conferences have policies. Serial sexual assaulters and outright rapists are common enough that women speakers have an informal network to warn each other about them. Victims are too afraid to name or report their attackers. In 2014, most conventions have anti-harassment policies, many leaders vocally oppose harassment, and at least three high-profile serial harassers and assaulters have been publicly identified. Some harassers and assaulters have lost their jobs and positions of power. However many victims and advocates are still stalked, harassed, and threatened, and need continuing support from the community. Several accused harassers and assaulters have threatened or begun legal action against those reporting them.

Detailed timeline:

A woman red hair on a black background

Rebecca Watson

June 2011: Rebecca Watson video blogs about being sexually harassed at the World Atheist Convention and suggests: “Guys, don’t do that.” In response, she is viciously harassed by members of the skeptic/atheist community for at least 2 years (the harassment is still on-going as of September 2014).

A smiling woman holding a paper printed with the word atheist

Jen McCreight

May 2012: Jen McCreight says on stage at the Women in Secularism conference that women speakers share the names of speakers who are likely to harass or assault them with other women speakers. Stephanie Zvan blogs about Jen’s comment and about harassment at skeptic/atheist conferences and suggests adopting anti-harassment policies at atheist/skeptic cons, linking to the policy on Geek Feminism Wiki as a good example.

Sarah Moglia and David Silverman commit to (and follow through on) adopting an anti-harassment policy for the Secular Students Association and AACON respectively. Many more conferences follow, led by Jen McCreight, Chris Calvey, Stephanie Zvan, and many more.

Ashley Miller publicly reports her experiences with harassment at TAM 9, countering earlier claims that no harassment was reported at TAM 9. In a positive turn of events, Elyse reports favorably on SkeptiCamp Ohio’s handling of harassment complaints according to their anti-harassment policy. Sasha Pixlee of More than Men begins maintaining a list of skeptic/atheist conferences with anti-harassment policies and advocates for more policies.

June 2012: Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight announce they will not attend TAM due to DJ Grothe’s recent statements. Among many other things, DJ blamed Watson and many others for discouraging women from attending TAM by telling the truth about their experiences of harassment in the community. (Ironically, Watson raised money for travel scholarships for women to attend TAM for several years.)

Dr. Pamela Gay gives a talk, Make the World Better, at TAM calling for skeptics to fight harassment in their community, and describing harassment she had personally experienced, although without naming the perpetrator.

PZ Myers explains why he’s in favor of conference anti-harassment policies in response to a claim that they are unnecessary because hotel security exists.

WylloNyx explains why anti-harassment policies are not sex-negative and would not prevent consensual sexual activity at conferences. “A lack of statement about non-harmful sexual expression is neutral on the sex positivity scale. That harassment policies make it clear that they offer protection against non-consensual sexual expression makes the harassment policies sex positive. It means that not only the ‘yay, sex is awesome’ part isn’t shamed but also the ‘sex isn’t always awesome’ aspect is addressed to the protection of attendees and speakers. To address both aspects of sex positivity clearly without shame makes sexual harassment policies sex positive.”

Greta Christina points out that the OpenSF 2012 conference for people in open, polyamorous, or ethically nonmonogamous relationships has a detailed code of conduct, including things like: “We know this is California and everyone hugs, but please do that awkward ‘wanna hug?’ gesture before actually hugging.”

Ashley Paramore reports being repeatedly groped in front of several people at TAM in 2012, without naming her attacker. The conference anti-harassment team banned the assaulter from future TAMs. Several other people back up her story. Paramore was harassed and threatened for months for publicly reporting her attack.

August 2013: Ian Murphy, Dr. Karen Stollznow, Carry Poppy, PZ MyersJason Thibeault, and many more begin naming names of specific serial sexual assaulters and harassers in the atheist/skeptic community. Jason Thibeault (@lousycanuck) creates a timeline of the sexual harassment accusations. Several of the named abusers threaten legal action, causing accusers to switch to using obvious pseudonyms instead.

An Indiegogo campaign is launched to raise a legal defense fund for one of the accused rapists, Michael Shermer. Ashley F. Miller points out that a quote from the campaign page makes it clear that the goal is to silence victims: “A show of support will send the message that we as a community will no longer tolerate illogical attacks on people who do not condone nor support sexual harassment, sexual predation, or rape any more than we support defamation of our community members from anonymous allegations.”

A skeptic comedian mocks the rape allegations by claiming that it is the victims’ responsibility to turn down alcoholic drinks if they don’t want to get raped and comparing the reports to religious texts. Jason Thibeault provides a transcript of the video with these remarks and explains what is wrong with the idea that getting drunk should be punished with rape or comparing the reports made directly to PZ Myers and others with religious gospels.

Smiling woman with glasses

Dr. Danielle Lee

October 2013: In the related science-blogging community, biologist Dr. Danielle Lee (@dnlee5) describes being called an “urban whore” in a blog post hosted on Scientific American. Scientific American removes the blog post and eventually reinstated it.

Following discussion about the Scientific American blog takedown, Monica Byrne then names a science editor she had described in 2012 as approaching her for sex inappropriately: Bora Zivkovic, then-Blogs Editor for Scientific American. Zivkovic apologises for his behavior to Byrne, but other women describe similar experiences. Zivkovic then resigns from Scientific American and Science Online, and Science Online states he will not attend their events in 2014. The #RipplesOfDoubt discussion arises from this incident.

November 2013: In response to #RipplesOfDoubt, Dr. Pamela Gay publicly describes the fallout from her TAM 2012 talk, including threats to her career.

January 2014: Bora Zivkovic publishes a (since deleted) New Year blog post asking how he can prove himself trustworthy. Science Online co-founder and board member Anton Zuiker publishes a long article calling for the online community to forgive Zivkovic, including a discussion of an unrelated false rape accusation. Two days later, the board of Science Online states that Zuiker has been asked to not comment further on Zivkovic.

February 2014: Ben Radford files suit against Karen Stollznow, and posts about false accusations on the Centre For Inquiry’s blog.

March 2014: Radford posts a statement to his Facebook wall, an apparent retraction of Stollznow’s allegations of harassment. allegedly co-signed by her. Stollznow categorically denies agreeing to it or signing it; Stollznow’s husband Michael Baxter states that he had worked on a joint statement draft with Radford or his representatives but that it had not been finalized nor had she agreed to it. Stollznow raises $60,000 on Indiegogo for her defense fund. Jason Thibeault creates a timeline of the statements released by different parties.

Woman's portrait

Janet Stemwedel

Back in the science-blogging community, Dr. Janet Stemwedel (@docfreeride) publishes a report-out from an impromptu gathering of people at the ScienceOnline Together conference concerned about the ScienceOnline board’s handling of violations of its anti-harassment policies.

May 2014: Dr. Pamela Gay describes the assault she experienced in 2008 and alluded to in her TAM 2012 talk and her November 2013 blog post and subsequent communication from her assailant.

September 2014: Mark Oppenheimer’s Buzzfeed piece Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? is published, documenting harassment and assault of several women in the skeptic and athiest communities, including several not-previously described accusations, particularly about Michael Shermer. Jason Thibeault releases an updated timeline of harassment and sexual assault allegations in the skeptic community, including several women who allege Shermer harassed or assaulted them.

Adam Lee (@DaylightAtheism) publishes a post in which Dr. Pamela Gay goes on record as saying that D. J. Grothe is the person who originally intervened when she was sexually harassed but later pressured her into silence.

What’s changed in 2014

The rumbles and cracks that grew around sexual harassment and assault in 2013 continued to grow in 2014, with a growing part of the community no longer willing to be silent about their own experiences and those that their colleagues and friends reveal. The unhealthy parts of the culture of the skeptic community have begun to attract mainstream attention. But powerful people within the community are accustomed to its norms and keen to defend them through silencing their victims with professional and legal consequences. Much more support is needed for those speaking up, from individual support through to institutional reform that protects them from reprisals.

How you can help

Two women smiling

Sarah Sharp and Sumana Harihareswara, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Whether you are the leading novelist in your field, or a lurker on a mailing list, you can take action to stop conference harassment. You can use your words, your influence, your money, and your participation to change the culture in your community.

  • Only attend conferences with (enforced) anti-harassment policies
  • If a conference doesn’t have a policy, ask them if they plan to have one
  • Start a pledge to not attend cons without policies
  • Start new conferences if existing ones won’t adopt policies
  • If you sponsor events, only sponsor events with policies
  • Publicly support victims of harassment, especially if you are exceptionally influential
  • Publicly support anti-harassment campaigns, especially if you are exceptionally influential
  • Exclude well-known harassers from your events and let them know why
  • Educate yourself on responding to harassment, especially if you are a con organizer
  • Learn more about bystander intervention
  • Don’t promote the work of people who harass or support harassment

You can also donate to support the Ada Initiative, which has been working full-time on ending harassment in open technology and culture communities since January 2011. Our 2014 fundraising campaign ends October 8th. Learn more about our progress so far and our plans for future work in 2014 and 2015.

Donate now

Sources and resources

List of geek conferences that have adopted anti-harassment policies
The Geek Feminism Wiki Timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities
Ada Initiative anti-harassment policy page

Stephanie Zvan: skeptic, feminist activist, and SF&F fan

Woman wearing glasses

Stephanie Zvan

Stephanie Zvan is a proud feminist! She is also the associate president of Minnesota Atheists and one of the hosts for their radio show and podcast, Atheists Talk, as well as the author of Almost Diamonds on Freethought Blogs. She speaks and writes about science and skepticism in a number of venues, including science fiction and fantasy conventions. And she is a big supporter of the Ada Initiative!

“I was raised classically feminist and grew up on Free to Be You and Me and Ms. Magazine. So I grew up with some background and interest in these issues,” Zvan says. “In high school in the physics department, I actually wrote a fake anthropological study of the ‘Physics Male” when I got sick of them treating women as if we didn’t have brains.”

It is unsurprising then, that she is a big supporter of the Ada Initiative. “The thing that has really impressed me is how many people that I know either personally or through their work, for whom the Ada Initiative has made a huge difference,” Zvan says. “I’m also impressed by the diversity of the work that it has enabled and supported.”

Donate now

Zvan takes an active role in the atheist/skeptic movement, hosting the radio show Atheists Talk run by the Minnesota Atheists. Zvan has been aware of the opposition women in face in skeptic communities for years, but found herself becoming far more vocal in 2012, after the Rebecca Watson elevator incident ignited huge debates in the atheist community. (Short version: a man propositioned Watson in an elevator, she suggested that men not do things like that in a video blog, and part of the skeptic community is still harassing and threatening Watson years later.)

“I was with Rebecca when that happened,” Zvan remembers adding that the backlash against Watson had a big impact on her. But it was another conference that incited her to action. “One year later, when the first Women in Secularism conference happened, one of the panelists up on stage said that she had been warned as a young attractive women that there were certain speakers she should avoid. I was live-tweeting the panel and tweeted it and it blew up and caused a huge thing.”

Logo for Zvan's blog, "Almost Diamonds"

Logo for Zvan’s blog, “Almost Diamonds”

Stephanie quickly realized that there was a way to funnel all of the emotion coming up for the good of the community. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute — I have seen the template for the Geek Feminism anti-harasssment code of conduct and none of the conferences I’m attending have one in place.’ I suggested that people take their outrage and direct it toward getting codes of conduct implemented at the conferences.”

She soon realized that, as these discussions were so new to the community, with her suggestion she had unexpectedly become the go-to person for understanding conference codes of conduct. “Of course, because these were very new, that made me an expert and I had to learn a lot very quickly… Geek Feminism and the Ada Initiative were huge in helping me do that. They centralized the information that helped me get up to speed so that when I was asked questions I wasn’t stammering and making stuff up.”

Stephanie also brought her voice and activism to the science fiction and fantasy community which she has been part of for 20 years. She jumped into the discussions after conference organizers responded badly to an incident of harassment at Readercon in late 2012. “I saw people having the same kinds of arguments that we had been through in the atheist community and wrote a piece speaking to the ways they could avoid the mistakes we had made, fully expecting that it would be ignored. To my surprise it actually got some attention, and got to some people who needed it.” She spoke up again when WisCon had a similar problem in 2014, and the Ada Initiative republished her advice to conference organizers trying to decide when to allow a harasser to return to a conference.

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

Zvan is a big supporter of the Ada Initiative’s Ally Skills Workshops and hopes to see the community direct energy and resources towards channels of tangible change. “The Ally Skills Workshops that the Ada Initiative runs could be helpful for our community in the future. I think that is deeply worthwhile. I would love to see more of that kind of thing happen in our movement. I think we need it.”

We agree – which is why if the skeptic community can raise $5,000 by midnight on Wednesday, October 8th, we pledge to teach an Ally Skills Workshop at Skepticon in November!

Donate now

Zvan is also heartened by the tangible impact of the Ada Initiative’s work and its capacity to grow. “People shouldn’t underestimate how much the people involved in doing this work in various communities are networking,” Zvan says. “And how much harder it will be to oppose the simple changes that we are looking for as our networks grow.”

Please join Stephanie Zvan in supporting the Ada Initiative so we can continue to work across multiple communities to create safer, more welcoming environments for women!

Donate now

You already raised $100,000 for the Ada Initiative's work for women in open tech/culture, help us raise another $50,000!

Two women standing back to back smiling

CC BY-SA Adam Novak

We can hardly believe it – you’ve already donated over $100,000 to support women in open technology and culture! With 9 days to go in our 2014 fundraising drive, we challenge you to join us in raising another $50,000 for the Ada Initiative’s important work! Donate now and spread the word:

Donate now

One year ago, you gave just over $100,000 for women in open tech/culture during the Ada Initiative’s yearly fundraising drive. With that funding, we organized three AdaCamps on three different continents, taught 15 Ally Skills Workshops, developed our Impostor Syndrome Training into a standalone program, and helped dozens of community and conference organizers adopt and enforce codes of conduct.

Two women sitting on the floor writing intently

Impostor Syndrome training at AdaCamp
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Imagine what we can do with $150,000! We’re already planning so much for the coming year: four AdaCamps, dozens of Ally Skills Workshops, and the launch of our full-scale, standalone Impostor Syndrome training program to help women in open technology and culture overcome the messages telling them, “You aren’t good enough to do that.” If you meet this challenge to raise $150,000, we make this promise: we will give away half the seats in our first two Impostor Syndrome Workshops for free (one in the San Francisco Bay Area, one in Sydney).

Here’s why we think $150,000 is achievable: This year, in the first 21 days, librarians alone raised over $20,000, Python programmers raised over $25,000, functional programmers over $12,000, scientists and academics over $5,000, and science fiction and fantasy fans nearly $3,000. They had fun doing it – and directly helped women in their communities at the same time.

With your help, 2015 will be an amazing year for women in open technology and culture! Take a minute to donate now and spread the word. Our 2014 donation drive ends Wednesday, October 8!

Donate now

Kronda Adair talks about radical inclusion, AdaCamp, and women starting their own businesses

Smiling woman

Kronda Adair, web consultant

Kronda Adair is not afraid to say the F word: Feminism! In fact, she’s shouting it from the rooftops while also running her own business as a freelance web developer, speaking out on feminist issues at tech conferences and on her blog, and encouraging other women to strike out on their own and start their own businesses. Join her in supporting the Ada Initiative and donate today!

Donate Now

“I heard that AdaCamp was being held in Portland and all my friends raved about it, so I applied,” Kronda Adair told us. AdaCamp is the Ada Initiative’s open-application, invitation-only unconference for women in open technology and culture. “It seemed like the best possible world – one in which participants are deliberately chosen and where the assholes are screened out before you even arrive.” The actual experience exceeded her hopes. “I loved AdaCamp so much. Once you’ve experienced radical inclusion at a conference, it’s hard to go back.

Adair knows too well the feeling of exclusion, one reason she started her own web consulting business, Karvel Digital.

“I came fairly late to the tech industry,” Adair says. “I went back to school at 34 and studied web development. Right out of school, I started working at a development agency. I had some good mentors but it was very male-dominated. There was only one other woman developer who left pretty quickly. I began to notice that I was getting a lot of flack about things that the male developers were not getting flack about,” she says, “and eventually was fired. They said it wasn’t a ‘culture fit.'”

Two women standing back to back smiling

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

This moment proved to be a major turning point for Adair, as she struck out on her own to create the kind of work environment she wanted. “Within hours of being fired from my job, my biggest feeling was one of relief and happiness that I didn’t have to go back to a place where I wasn’t supported and experienced microaggressions on a daily basis,” she remembers.

It also gave her the ability to speak honestly about the marginalization of women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks in tech and become both a voice for change in the industry and an inspiration for other women looking to strike out on their own.

“I hang out in a chat room full of lady developers, so when the Call For Presentations for Open Source Bridge opened, the title ‘Stop Crying in the Bathroom and Start Your Own Business’ came to me and I asked my chat buddies what they thought.” They were overwhelmingly supportive. Adair’s talk was quickly accepted.

There’s not a lot of narrative in the tech industry about being able to directly use your skills to benefit people without the overhead of trying to get biased hiring managers to give you a job, or dealing with sexism, racism, homophobia or transphobia on a daily basis. I wanted to model that and show people that it’s possible because it’s the way that I see myself being able to stay in the industry long term without sacrificing my emotional health.”

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors

AdaCamp Portland
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Adair’s strong sense of community and solidarity is one of the reasons that AdaCamp resonated with her so powerfully. “This year has been one of a lot of stress and transitions and so it happened that when I actually attended AdaCamp, my energy was pretty much as low as it’s ever been. I didn’t really even feel fit for interacting with people, but the great thing about AdaCamp was that I felt completely safe showing up in that state and being open about it, and people just met me where I was.”

Many AdaCamp attendees have expressed their gratitude and relief at the support, camaraderie and inspiration they find at AdaCamp, as well as a deep frustration that this environment is currently so rare. “I heard from many attendees that it was the first time they’ve been able to enjoy a technical conference while also feeling safe,” Adair says. “That’s a terrible reflection on the ‘normal’ conference experience. So I think it’s vitally important to put pressure on the industry to do better and The Ada Initiative does that very effectively.”

We can’t thank Kronda enough for her support of our work and of women in technology! We hope many people follow her lead in encouraging women to found their own businesses as one important way to create a better working environment for women in tech.

Two women smiling

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Thanks to donations from people like you, in 2014 we were able to offer 3 AdaCamps – the most we have ever offered in a single year, and one in each of three continents: Asia, Europe, and North America. Holding multiple small AdaCamps all over the world lets us reach more women who need AdaCamp, instead of the lucky few who live in the top few technology centers. We also offer free registration, travel scholarships, and free child care to AdaCamp attendees who would be unable to attend otherwise. Making AdaCamp more accessible to the women who need it most also means that we lose money on each event. It’s only thanks to donations from people like you that we can continue to make AdaCamp serve the needs of women in open technology and culture first!

Donate Now

Python community close to raising $25,000 to support women in open technology and culture!

Pythonistas did it! With an additional anonymous donation of $2,000 from a security bug bonus plus $10,000 in matching donations, the Python community has raised over $24,385 for the Ada Initiative! We created a new donation counter with the $10,000 of matching donations included. Now we’re wondering, can the Python community reach $25,000?

Two people sitting on a couch with laptops, one with a PyLadies sticker

Guido van Rossum and Lynn Root

Python developer Lynn Root still has a challenge open: if another 5 people send her a screenshot of their donation to the Ada Initiative, she will donate an additional $500, on top of the $500 she has already donated. Here’s why Lynn supports the Ada Initiative:

It is because of the Ada Initiative that I felt inspired & empowered to bring their Ally Skills Workshop to Spotify as part of our internal diversity training. I took the workshop back in March of 2014; it left me feeling prepared and comfortable to handle uncomfortable and awkward situations, even though the workshop is meant for men. I have since been working hard with our internal diversity working group to integrate such a workshop into new hire orientation.

Thank you again Python developers Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Alex Gaynor, Carl Meyer, and Jim Meyer for their inspiring $10,000 matching challenge to the Python community!

Donate now

The Python challenge ends on midnight, Friday September 26, 2014, but you can donate to the Ada Initiative’s yearly fundraising drive and get our Feminist Sticker Pack through October 8, 2014!


Python developers make $10,000 matching challenge to support women in Python!

Python developers Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Alex Gaynor, Carl Meyer, and Jim Meyer have banded together to issue a $10,000 matching challenge to the Python community! Read more about why they made this pledge:

Jacob Kaplan-Moss

Jacob Kaplan-Moss CC BY-SA Aidas Bendoraitis

Jacob Kaplan-Moss: “So, I’m eager see the Python community step up and support the Ada Initiative. By donating, you’ll accomplish two things: 1. You’ll prove that the Python community stands for equality and inclusiveness, and against harassment, abuse, and hate. 2. Your financial support will arm an organization dedicated to inclusiveness, and one that’s having steady, measurable success.”

Alex Gaynor: “The best hope we have for building programs that are respectful of the agency of our users is for the people who use them to be represented by the people who build them. To get there, we need to create an industry where harassment and abuse are simply unacceptable. It’s a long road, but the Ada Initiative does fantastic work to pursue these goals (particularly in the open source community, which is near and dear to me).”

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors

Almost 96 women at AdaCamp!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Carl Meyer: “I attended my first PyCon in 2008, and I’ve been to every one since. I gave my first PyCon talk in 2011. That year, 1% of the talks were by women; ninety-five out of ninety-six by men. Being one of those ninety-five helped me to launch a career in open-source software. Ninety-odd other men got that same opportunity that year; one woman did.”

They were joined by Lynn Root, Noah Kantrowitz, and, of course, the creator of the Python programming language Guido Van Rossum in supporting the Ada Initiative’s work. Check out the #python4ada hashtag on Twitter for more. Donate now and help them reach their goal:

Donate now

You have until midnight, Friday September 26, 2014 to donate to this campaign and help us unlock another $10,000 to support women in open technology!

Note: You may have noticed the donation counter go backwards. This is not a bug – we chose to refund a large donation to the Python fundraising campaign by a person has harassed some of the Ada Initiative staff and been explicitly asked not to contact us again. In accordance with our sponsorship policy, we have refunded their donation. We are sure the Python community can reach this matching goal anyway!

"Diversity isn't a cynical PR move, it's a shrewd business strategy" – Why one venture capitalist supports the Ada Initiative

Smiling woman

Rachel Chalmers, venture capitalist

This is a guest post from Rachel Chalmers, Principal at venture capital firm Ignition Partners and a member of the Ada Initiative board of directors. Keep reading to find out why Rachel donated $2,000 of her own money to the Ada Initiative, and is calling on other venture capitalists and investors to join her in supporting the Ada Initiative.

As an industry analyst, I covered 1,054 startup companies over 13 years. Of these, the single most dramatic success was VMware, worth $40 billion as I write this. VMware was remarkable in another respect: one of its founders was a woman.

Two women smiling, CC BY-SA Adam NovakCorrelation doesn’t imply causality, but Diane Greene’s achievement is emblematic of a deeper trend that I and others have observed over the years: companies that recruit and promote women and people of color outperform companies that don’t. Diversity isn’t a cynical PR move. It’s a shrewd business strategy. It’s meritocracy practiced as a commitment to change, rather than as a lazy justification for maintaining the status quo.

This is a big part of why I support the Ada Initiative. The Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct have been adopted across the software industry, from technical conferences to startup incubators. They’re creating safe spaces for women and other under-represented people to contribute their talents and perspectives to the world. These changes eliminate wasted potential and improve outcomes. Not implementing them is fiscally irresponsible.

Two women reclining and hugging

Rachel and Jean Chalmers

All that said, my support for TAI goes far beyond calculating profit and loss. I’ve written here before about the awesome education I was lucky enough to get. My mother, who died in February, was more than a match for me intellectually – crosswords were effortless to her, and she wiped the floor with me in Scrabble.

But she came of age in 1953, when the options for clever working-class women from the north of England were dire. She was the first in her family to attend college, but like so many in that position, she lacked the support she needed to graduate. It’s the world’s loss as much as hers. Who knows what she might have achieved? Mum did a brilliant job playing the hand she was dealt, but the game was rigged. I work with TAI to get everyone a fairer deal.

I encourage you to do the same.

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Why Guido van Rossum supports the Ada Initiative, wears a "Python is for girls" shirt, and answered questions from only women at PyCon 2014

smiling man

Guido van Rossum isn’t afraid to say the F-word: Feminism! Join him in supporting the Ada Initiative and donate today.

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Guido van Rossum is the creator of the Python programming language, so it’s not surprising that he is a keynote speaker at most PyCon conferences. What is surprising is that during his PyCon 2014 keynote, he announced that he would answer questions only from women. “Through out the conference, I’ve been attacked by by people with questions, and they were almost all men, so I think the women […] are a little behind and they can catch up here,” he said on stage.

We asked how he came up with the idea. “I was slated to give the keynote on the final day,” van Rossum said. “The day before I had seen a keynote by Jessica McKellar, in which she painted a very bleak and well-researched picture of the situation of women in science in technology.” McKellar’s keynote inspired Van Rossum to acknowledge the women at Pycon more directly by only answering questions only from women.

Guido van Rossum wearing "Python is for girls" shirt

Python is for girls, selfies are for programmers

“There was one guy in the entire 2,000 person audience that made a tiny boo sound,” van Rossum remembers. “Everyone else went with it, and we could all see then that questions from women were just as interesting as questions from men, if not more so! We just had a really interesting technical Q&A session. At some point I even managed to sneak in something about Imposter Syndrome.”

Van Rossum also wears his famous “Python is for Girls” t-shirt at every conference keynote he can. He’s doing this to make a public statement: women and girls are welcome in the Python community. Some people seem most impressed by van Rossum wearing a shirt that includes the color pink. “The t-shirt itself is not pink. But the girl in the illustration is wearing a pink dress,” van Rossum notes.

This kind of consistent public leadership, in combination with hard work by many people across the Python community, results in a conference that is about 30% women – a level almost unheard of in large open source conferences.

Man sitting behind a laptop covered in colorful stickersSporting three Ada Initiative stickers on his laptop, Guido is a big supporter of our ongoing work to make the open source community a safer and more welcoming place for women.

Looking around me, it is so obvious that women don’t get equal opportunities in tech and there are so many things that lead to that. The statistics are very clear. If I look around in the café at work there are tons of women. But if I look around me in my little engineering team there is only one woman. And I think it is a shame that so few women choose tech and those that do have so many things to fight.”

We can’t thank Guido enough for his support, activism and leadership, as we all work together towards a more inclusive open source community!

If you’d like to join Guido in sporting Ada Initiative stickers on your laptop and supporting women in Python, it’s easy: Donate to the 2014 Ada Initiative fundraising drive before October 8, and you’ll get the Ada Initiative sticker pack, including 3 copies of the “Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism” sticker!

Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD"

Portrait of Ada Lovelace in color


“As seen on Guido’s laptop”

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"Fix it or Feature It" – Mary Robinette Kowal talks puppets, fantasy and safer spaces

Mary Robinette Kowal © 2012 Rod Searcey

Mary Robinette Kowal is a Hugo award-winning science fiction and fantasy author with a history of fighting harassment in the science fiction and fantasy (SF&F) community. Mary is donating 10 signed hardcovers of the most recent novel in her Glamourist Histories series to the Ada Initiative, “Valour and Vanity” – as well a signed manuscript of the upcoming fifth novel in the series, “Of Noble Family, scheduled to be published April 2015, along with signed hardcovers of the entire series. Signed copies of “Valour and Vanity” are thank-you gifts for donations of $256, and the signed manuscript and series for donations of $1024. It will be hard, but we promise not to read the manuscript before sending it to you!

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“I come from a theater background and there is a mantra, ‘Fix it or Feature It,'” Mary Robinette Kowal says, speaking about her day job as a professional puppeteer. The idea is that if something goes wrong during a performance and you can’t fix it, find a way to turn it into a positive for the performance. This concept has proved important in her role as a writer and public figure as well. Kowal remembers well a classic online forum incident that was a turning point for her.

Smiling woman sitting cross-legged holding a wooden puppet

2010 Annaliese Moyer

“A guy in an online fantasy writing forum […] said a bunch of insulting things about me, including that I couldn’t possibly be a feminist,” she remembers. Initially, Kowal decided to ignore him, since he was speaking to an audience of no more than forty people. Then someone posted links to the discussion on Tumblr and the “audience” grew much bigger. Kowal decided that it was time to “feature it.” She wrote about the experience on her blog, he ended up apologizing to her, and many people learned a lot more about the harassment women experience in SF&F.

“In these cases, there is a larger narrative that you are part of […] When things go wrong online one of the things I am looking at is: ‘How can I use this to make the world a better place?’ I used myself as an example to talk about the larger issues of harassment and misogyny, and tried to bring attention to them.”

Kowal brings her sense of justice and truth-speaking to her writing as whole – one of the many reasons we love it so much! Her Glamourist Histories delves into the complexities of gender, race and class, and her heroines don’t shy away from the difficult. As a sought-after speaker and panelist, she is a big supporter of the Ada Initiative’s work on anti-harassment policies. She is also grateful for the many resources regarding harassment on the site, and the light that this work brings to the issue.

Valour and Vanity  bookcover

Donate $256 or more for a signed hardcover

“It is so important to talk about it,” she says, “and to have clear resources and guidelines. All of the conversations that the Ada Initiative sponsors and encourages are so important to shape what the world will be like for the next generation.

Kowal follows her own advice and uses an anti-harassment policy in both of her writing workshops, “Writing the Other” and “Writing Excuses.” She feels that it is particularly important in the more personal environment of a workshop.

“It is the kind of environment where people say ‘Oh, you don’t need one.’ We give a speech up front about the harassment policy and make sure the students know that it is taken seriously. A number of students have blogged and mentioned that it makes them feel safer.”

We are so grateful to Mary for her support, her writing, her activism and her courage. And that’s just the beginning of the list!

Donate now, and you may be the lucky recipient of a signed copy “Valour and Vanity,” as well as our new feminist sticker, “Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism!” Don’t wait – these 10 copies will be gone in flash!

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Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD"

Our latest feminist sticker, yours for a donation of $128 or more!