Category Archives: Seed 100 campaign

The Seed 100 campaign succeeded

We’re pleased (and relieved) to announce the end of the Seed 100 campaign, 6 days before our planned closing day of June 30. 100 donors have now funded our program development work, and we’re excited to move onto work that doesn’t involve spending a lot of time hovering over Paypal notifications. We have a lot of work to do, but thanks to you, we feel confident the Ada Initiative will be able to fulfill its promise and mission.

Thank you to all our generous Seed 100 donors for funding our early work and showing the depth of community support for the Ada Initiative, from our first donor, Anonymous Donor #1, to our last donor, Chris Palmer, and all the donors in between. To our amazement, some individuals and groups donated above even the Analytical Engineer level, including Jesse Ruderman, Imaginary Bridges Group and Mattias Urlichs. We’re equally flattered by the 57(!) Difference Engineer donors.

We do not currently have plans for another individual fundraising drive. The most important form of support individuals can offer us is not money, it is small, every day actions by people like you. If you’d like to help with the Ada Initiative’s work, the best thing you can do is follow our work and announcements on our blog, mailing lists, Twitter feed, or other channel. Please sign up today! We are committed to high-signal, low-noise communication.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: we reached 100 donors. Thank you!

Seed 100 update: 6 to go…

Our Seed 100 funding campaign is getting very close to its goal now, and we’re looking forward to meeting our final 6 donors. Will one of them be you?

Seed 100 is the only chance for individual donors to be prominent early supporters of the Ada Initiative, and it’s an excellent way to begin to help out, if you’ve been dismayed at the lack of women’s participation and leadership and unable to figure out how to help before.

Here’s one last encouragement from an existing donor. Ben Leslie, father of the Youngest Analytical Engineer April Leslie, writes:

I think this low participation rate matters on two fronts.

Firstly, it has an overall negative impact of the open source community. There is the direct loss attributable to the fact that we miss out on the contributions of many excellent developers. Additionally, the are indirect costs. Also I think that having a diverse community working on any project brings a variety of ideas to the project that can dramatically improve the project.

Secondly, and more importantly, it matters to all the individuals who miss out on participating in the open source community. I don’t think I really appreciated this perspective before becoming a father. I’d be pretty upset if my daughter missed out on being involved in the open source community because of some of the unnecessary challenges that currently exist for women in the community…

If your are involved in the open source community and would like to see more done to support women with in the community, I’d encourage you to become an Ada Initiative supporter.

Become one of our final Seed 100 funders by donating today.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Interview with Sydney Google Women Engineers Group

One of our donors at the Analytical Engineer level is a consortium, the Sydney Google women engineers group. We asked the members of this group to answer some interview questions and tell us a little more about themselves, the Sydney Google office, and why they donated.

Tell us more about the Google Sydney women engineers group.


The Sydney Google Women Engineers group is an official network, and all of the women engineers are included. We have lunch together once a month and we have an ongoing budget for events that promote and encourage women in computing, group activities and off-sites. For example, recently we took an acrylic painting class together; for a bunch of engineering types, the opportunity to splash paint onto canvas was certainly novel!

Why did you decide to donate to the Ada Initiative?

Eddy: I am concerned about the lack of women in computer science – were missing out on a lot of talent, and its not easy being a minority! – and the Ada Initiative is poised to make a difference. Its important that women become involved in technical jobs that shape the world around us.


Alice: I have seen first-hand the work that both Mary and Val have done in the Open Source and geek feminist” communities, and Im certain that if anyone is going to make a dent in the issues facing women in Open Source, these are the people for the job. The seed funding round was a perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, as well as get a very cool Lovelace and Babbage poster for our Ada Lovelace meeting room in the Google office.

Katie: It seems to be a common problem for women who are passionate about gender diversity in IT to burnout. Its hard to have a good work-life balance at the best of times without the extra work and stress involved in organising communities and events. The Ada Initiative will alleviate some of this burden on the volunteer time of many by turning it into a full time job for a smaller number of people.


Susannah: Like many women in technology, I would like to see more women entering and remaining in the field. Though I have the resources to affect change at Google, the problems are systemic and far broader. The Ada Initiative has the potential to make a bigger impact on computing culture than I can myself.

The Google Sydney office has meeting rooms named after historical women in computing. Which women and why?


The names of the meetings rooms are: Antonelli, Lovelace, Hopper, Spärck Jones, Liskov and Perlman. The names were chosen by the women engineers group by consensus, after much discussion.

  • Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper were obvious choices as some of the most well known (and hugely influential) women in the history of computing.
  • Kathleen “Kay” McNulty Mauchly Antonelli was one of the original ENIAC programmers.
  • Karen Spärck Jones work on information retrieval, and her invention of the Inverse Document Frequency measure in particular, is especially relevant to Google as a search company.
  • Barbara Liskovs well-known work in object oriented programming language theory earned her a Turing Award, John von Neumann medal and numerous other honours.
  • Finally, Radia Perlmans work on network design, in particular her Spanning Tree Protocol is also fundamental to our daily work.


The room names were voted on by the entire office, so we needed to promote our idea to everyone. It took the support of the whole office, men and women, for the idea to be put into place, and we’re really proud of seeing the names there today. Here is what we wrote to promote the idea:

The women in computer science’s history are too seldom celebrated, despite the fact that they have been an active part of the field since its very inception […]. By naming our meeting rooms after the women who have helped make our field what it is today, we can make a positive statement about Google’s commitment to promoting gender equality in computer science, while paying tribute to these pioneers and reflecting the Sydney office’s openness to diversity.

In addition to being named after women in computing, each room has a picture and biography of the woman its named after.

Is the Ada Lovelace meeting room where your print from the Lovelace and Babbage comic will end up or do you have other plans for it?

Yes, the Lovelace and Babbage poster will take pride of place in the Ada Lovelace meeting room once it arrives, along with the photo and bio of Ada Lovelace that is already there.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

New Ada Lovelace portrait released under Creative Commons license

Countess Ada Lovelace is an important part of computing history as the world’s first programmer, but images of her are few and far between. The Ada Picture Gallery collected all the free for non-commercial reuse images they could find. They are nearly all based on only two sources: A full-length oil painting of Ada as a young woman by Margaret Carpenter, and an engraved and colored portrait of her from the waist up, drawn by A. E. Chaton. Both are stylized according to the tastes of the time and it’s not entirely clear what Ada really looked like (other than having a lot of stuff in her hair). None of the available images are optimized for either printing or the computer screen.

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait released under CC0

For the Ada Initiative Seed 100 fund-raising campaign, we commissioned a modern, cleaned-up, printing-friendly portrait of Ada Lovelace from illustrator Colin Adams. In keeping with our goals and ethics as an open technology and culture organization, we are now officially releasing the portrait under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means it is free for reuse either commercially or non-commercially, with or without modification, and with or without attribution (although if you’d like to give attribution, Colin Adams is the artist, and the Ada Initiative is the copyright holder). Download a variety of formats here; please send us new formats and sizes and we’ll add them.

If you donate to the Ada Initiative Seed 100 funding-raising campaign at the Analytical Engineer level before June 30th, you will receive a high-quality 11″x15″ print of this portrait, signed by either Valerie Aurora or Mary Gardiner. You can print your own version, of course, but you won’t have the satisfaction of supporting women in open technology and culture at this crucial phase.

Please reuse, remix, and spread the word about this portrait. Raising awareness of the world’s first computer programmer is one way to fight gender stereotypes keeping women out of computing-related careers. Thank you!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Donate for your daughters

Seed 100 funding campaign update: The good news is that we are 3/4 of the way to our target, the bad news is that we had only 11 donors in the last week. Meeting our target of 100 donors by June 30th (or earlier!) is important to show the depth of community support for the Ada Initiative to major corporate sponsors who will fund the majority of our work. Now is the time that your personal donation is the most powerful and will make the greatest change in our community. Donate now.

Daughters and the Ada Initiative

Becoming parents, especially of daughters, is a wake-up call for many people about the problems facing women in open technology and culture. We asked several of our donors about how having daughters influenced their decision to donate to the Ada Initiative, including Rachel Chalmers (The 451 Group), Luke Kanies (CEO Puppet Labs), Rusty Russell (Linux kernel developer), and Mike Shaver (Mozilla).

When you decided to help fund to The Ada Initiative, did the fact that you have daughters influence your decision?

Mike Shaver: Yes, very much. I’m the son of a female software developer, and — though she would never complain about it — I know that her career was harder than it would have been if she were a man. It bothers me that it happened to my mom, and it honestly infuriates me a bit that it might happen to my daughter if she chooses software, and if we don’t change the world enough in time.

Rachel Chalmers: Probably yes. When you are childless, you can mostly shrug discrimination off, or frame it as a series of coincidental bad interactions. Pregnancy changes that: I had a male colleague ask if I could push the date of my maternity leave back a few weeks.

Rusty Russell: Yes. Mainly because I really wanted the poster for her room. :)

Have your opinions on the status of women in open technology and culture changed since your daughters were born?

Mike Shaver: I wouldn’t say that my opinions have changed, but it resonates more with me emotionally. I’ve always felt that diversity in the workplace is both a moral imperative and good business, and that position has become much more concrete for me now that I have my daughter to frame it against. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work without hindrance in the field of open technology, but I know that it wouldn’t be the same today for daughter to get involved. Not OK.

Rachel Chalmers: Yes, and not just for my own daughter. Middle-class white girls like my own, especially those growing up in technology hubs like San Francisco, do have access to extraordinary resources: hackerspaces, Maker Faires, science books and documentaries, Arduino kits, science and technology museums. The same is not always true of girls of color or who are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families. It’s for them, and not only for my daughters, that I want to make STEM careers more attractive and accessible to women.

What would you like The Ada Initiative to have achieved by the time your daughter(s) finish their education?

Rusty Russell: Ideally? Create a world where she has no concept that her gender would ever put her at a disadvantage in any technical community. Realistically? Ensure there are enough role models and overt acceptance that she feels welcome and her skills and passion can be nurtured.

Mike Shaver: I want it to be quaint and silly that an organization like the Ada Initiative was so badly needed. Assuming that my daughter chooses to pursue a career in software, rather than more respectable work, I want her gender to just be a non-issue. I suppose that’s the cliched answer, but it’s what I was thinking when I clicked the button to donate.

Luke Kanies: I frankly think it’s achievable that women will become the dominant force in software delivery, like they are becoming in medicine and science, and the Ada Initiative is an important part of that. [Heck, yes! — Ed.]

Donate for your daughters. And thank you!

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Seed 100 update: why supporting the Ada Initiative's work is important

During the Seed 100 campaign, several of our advisors have written about promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture, and the Ada Initiative and our work specifically, is important to them. We’re grateful to our Seed 100 donors so far for helping us do the work our advisors write about here. Donate today to help fund this crucial work.

In addition to becoming a Difference Engineer, Mitchell Baker wrote about the Ada Initiative as one strategy for increasing women’s participation:

The number of women participating in open technologies is lower than in technical fields in general. Why is this and what can we do about it? One response is to support the The Ada Initiative, a new effort formed by Mary Gardiner and [Valerie] Aurora, two women with deep technical experience in open source projects and a commitment to making environments where other women are more likely to be successful.

Kirrily Robert spoke about her own experiences as a volunteer activist for women in open source and how useful it is to have paid advocates for women:

… I knew that no matter how positive my spin, people would take issue with what I said, and that I could expect negativity, trolls, and harassment for my pains. I knew, too, that I would undoubtedly burn out, but that I could probably manage a year of being the go-to woman on the subject before I had to withdraw for my own sanity…

The Ada Initiative do not charge for consulting on these issues. However, theyre not a volunteer organisation. They know, as I do, that volunteer activists burn out quickly, as they try to balance activism (and dealing with the harassment and abuse the receive for that activism) with their jobs as software engineers, sysadmins, etc. Instead, the Ada Initiative employs full time staff (read their bios) who can devote themselves to projects that require more time and energy than busy volunteers usually have available.

Nóirín Plunkett wrote of the importance of Valerie’s work on the conference anti-harassment policy:

And reasonable people turned up, saying they couldnt believe that this kind of thing still happens, either the assault or the violent responses. Many of them just had no idea how to react to this.

Luckily, I have a strong group of awesome and supportive friends. One of them, Valerie Aurora, spearheaded the writing of a Conference Anti-Harassment Policy that was soon adopted by a variety of conferences and events.

Valerie wasnt ready to stop there, and with Mary Gardiner and a team of advisors from around the worlds of open technology and culture, she established the Ada Initiative.

Via Dan Kusnetzky, Rachel Chalmers wrote more about burnout of volunteer activists:

Right now [the Ada Initiative is] fundraising so that [Valerie] and Mary can be paid for the work they do. It’s important that they earn a salary, because there’s a long, sad history of women volunteering to try to make open source culture less hostile to women, and burning out in about two years.

In addition, donors Code Better and Daniel Chen both wrote encouraging others to donate.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Seed 100 update: 66 down, 34 to go

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Our Seed 100 funding campaign has 16 days left and 34 donors to go. We still need your help! If you want to donate but haven’t gotten around to it yet, now is the time to donate. Have a question? Email us and we’ll answer.

Fun stories from the campaign:

Youngest Analytical Engineer: April Leslie, 1 year old, is the youngest Analytical Engineer (donation in her honor from Ben Leslie (benno). Can you beat that?

Donors meet cute: We saw our first “Have you heard of Ada Initiative?” – “Yes, I’m a supporter!” exchange on Twitter this week:

@sramji: @feorlen @timburks Have you look at the @adainitiative yet? They are trying to solve for the fundamentals of the problem in our industry.

@feorlen: @sramji @timburks @adainitiative I’m already a supporter!

@sramji: @feorlen @timburks @adainitiative Sweet, me too (Difference Engineer)

Totally sweet. Join the club!

New coolest donation amount: Finally, a shout-out to Imaginary Bridges Group. They snapped up the last Sydney Padua print with a 2^11 ($2048) donation and got a Colin Adams print as well. This officially beats $1337 as the coolest donation amount. Sorry, Matthias!