In 2012, the Ada Initiative helped kick off a discussion in the computer security and “hacker” community about the treatment of women in the community. People started asking questions like: “If we’re so committed to human rights, why are we treating women so poorly? Can we protest Bradley Manning’s imprisonment and at the same time approve of groping women without their consent?”Our work caught the eye of the editors at information security publication SC Magazine, which just named Ada Initiative co-founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora as two of their “Influential IT security minds in 2012.” We first came to their attention with our article on why harassment of women at conferences matters, particularly computer security and “hacker” conferences. This article helped organize and mobilize a growing grassroots movement with the computer security community to improve how women are treated by the community itself.
As one example of the changes that happened in 2012, two computer security conferences, BruCON and DeepSec, adopted conference anti-harassment policies banning things like pornography in slides and unwanted touching (based on Ada Initiative examples), with several more conferences discussing similar steps. In the case of these two conferences, the policies simply formalized the organizers’ existing standards for behavior. Other conferences will have more work to do to change the culture of sexual harassment and groping that has become the norm at their events.
SC Magazine also interviewed KC Crowell, a journalism student, self-described geek, and leader in the grassroots movement to end sexism in hacker culture. She created the “Red/Yellow Card Project,” an initiative to highlight sexism at conferences by handing out brightly colored cards in the style of sports referees. Her take on the Ada Initiative: “They have the amazing ability to connect women in tech who want to share resources and collaborate to bring about major change. That level of open collaboration and networking is so vitally important, especially in the relatively small community of women working within the tech industry.”
The computer security and hacker community is in the middle of an important discussion about their ideals of social justice and how they should apply to the treatment of women in their own community. We look forward to working with you, the community, to turn that discussion into action and bring many more women into the computer security community.
Want to be part of the change? You can donate to the Ada Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the status and participation of women in open technology and culture.
During the linux.conf.au dinner on Thursday January 19, I found out that I was being awarded the “Rusty Wrench” award, for services to the free software and open source communities in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania at linux.conf.au 2012. I am its fourth recipient, following in the illustrious company of Rusty Russell, Pia Waugh and Kimberlee Weatherall. To quote from one of the nominations:
Mary has been active in the Australian Linux community for over a decade. At various times she’s run AussieChix (recently expanded into OWOOT, the Oceania Women Of Open Technology group), organised the LinuxChix/Haecksen miniconfs at LCA, served on numerous organising and papers committees for open source conferences, and been an invited speaker at conferences including PyCon Australia… In 2011 she co-founded the Ada Initiative, to support and promote women in open technology and culture.
Thank you to those who anonymously nominated me, and to Rusty, Pia and Kimberlee for their decision to award it to me in 2012.
A month ago, Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora was listed in Part I ofÂ Femmeonomics ‘ Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech list. Since then, three more parts of the list have been published. Part IIÂ includes Ada Initiative co-founder Mary Gardiner and advisor Sumana Harihareswara, who is listed because of her work as Volunteer Development Coordinator at the Wikimedia Foundation.
Congratulations to Mary, Sumana, and Valerie â€” and all the other women whove made the list, whether theyre listed as an Unsung Hero, a Stereotype Buster like Sumana or as Game Changers like Mary and Valerie.
Femmeonomics announced the first 10 women on its Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech list today. We’re pleased to say that one of the Ada Initiative co-founders, Valerie Aurora, made the list under the category of “Game Changer.” Keep reading for the next 40 women you should be paying attention to this year in tech.