The Ada Initiative Ally Skills Workshop taught men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learned techniques that work at the office, at conferences, and online. The workshop taught skills relevant everywhere, with a focus on those most relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the workshop, participants felt more confident in speaking up to support women, were more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and had closer relationships with the other participants.
Continue our work: Updated and expanded Ally Skills Workshop materials
In 2016, the Ally Skills Workshop was expanded to cover race, sexuality, disability, age, class, and religion, as well as gender. A version more suited to European audiences has also been created. You can find the updated and expanded, CC BY-SA licensed materials on the web site for Frame Shift Consulting, a diversity and inclusion in technology consulting firm founded by Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora:
Many instructors are teaching a version of the Ally Skills Workshop derived from the Ada Initiative materials. Frame Shift Consulting offers the workshop around the world, specializing in tech companies. Y-Vonne Hutchinson is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and interested in working with small to medium tech companies as part of her work with ReadySet and Project Include. Kendra Albert focuses on fighting sexism and transphobia and teaches in both Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. Cynthia Tee teaches only in the Seattle area. Alison Stanton focuses on men supporting women and managers working in tech, and is based in Chicago but happy to travel within the U.S. Leigh Honeywell teaches at computer security events around the world. You can also email Frame Shift Consulting for a recommendation for an instructor suited to your needs, or search on Google for other providers. A train-the-trainers is also available.
About the original Ally Skills Workshop (2012 – 2015)
“Can we get more training like that?“ – Anonymous participant
The Ally Skills Workshop is taught in person by an experienced facilitator, with 15 – 50 people in each workshop. The workshop begins with a short introduction to the basics of speaking up in a supportive way, then switches to discussion of 5 – 10 specific scenarios in groups of 4 – 6 people. Scenarios vary from introducing yourself to a woman at a conference to responding as a witness to sexual harassment or assault. After discussing each scenario, each group reports on their discussion and conclusions, and the facilitator makes suggestions for improvement or identifies insights. Scenarios can be customized in advance or suggested at the workshop. The workshop is 3 hours long with a 15 minute break at the 1.5 hour mark.
“We’ve run the [Ally Skills Workshop] 4 times and the impact has been fantastic. This workshop has been the catalyst for many “aha” moments. People who understood bias exists in a very logical way, were able to see, through the conversation with peers about the very relevant scenarios, and connect emotionally with the impact bias has on the colleagues they respect and interact with daily. – Anonymous train-the-trainers client
“The workshop helped identify situations which “really” happen. In my (sheltered) world I often don’t see the kind of behaviour that was illustrated and it was interesting to be able to discuss the situations with the people present. I notice it has made me a little more alert to that kind of situation in my own environment.” – Jan-Bart de Vreede
“The Ada Initiative’s training on gender in technology was a great opportunity for me, as a woman, to openly discuss the issues that exist within our communities. In the training, folks of all genders were able to come together and talk through ways that we can create a more inclusive work environment. I truly hope that all organizations host this training – your teams will be stronger from it.” – Renee Bracey Sherman
“I found the Ally Skills Workshop gave me new tools to support people who may sometimes find it difficult to participate in the workplace. It also helped me to improve my understanding of the issues women and other visible minority communities can face in their daily lives and provided me with a framework for having supportive, honest and open conversations about them.” – Peter van Hardenberg
The most up-to-date materials for the Ally Skills Workshop are on the Frame Shift Consulting web site here:
These materials are also licensed CC BY-SA. If you are teaching or adapting the workshop, please consider starting with the updated and expanded materials there.
Archival materials (2012 – 2015)
Facilitator’s Guide: A detailed facilitator’s guide to help people learn how to teach the workshop (PDF)
Example handout: Printed handout to give participants at the end of the class (PDF)
Online curriculum: A full online curriculum for the workshop is available on the Geek Feminism wiki.
Video: Video of an Ally Skills Workshop taught at the Wikimedia Foundation. To protect the privacy of the participants, their comments are edited out. A full transcript is available, provided by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.
Schedule a workshop
The Ada Initiative shut down major operations in October 2015 and no longer teaches Ally Skills Workshops.
Many instructors are teaching a version of the Ally Skills Workshop derived from the Ada Initiative materials. You can email Frame Shift Consulting for a recommendation for an instructor suited to your needs, or search on Google for other providers. A train-the-trainers is also available.