Ally Skills Workshop

Several people in discussion around a tableThe Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learn techniques that work at the office, at conferences, and online. The skills we teach are relevant everywhere, including skills particularly relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the workshop, participants will feel more confident in speaking up to support women, be more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and have closer relationships with the other participants.

Workshop structure

Can we get more training like that? – Anonymous participant

The Ally Skills Workshop is taught in person by an experienced facilitator, with 15 – 40 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.

Schedule a workshop

Email for more information, including our price list. So that we can afford to teach more workshops, we usually charge a fee to teach this workshop, with a variety of discounts for non-profits and making seats available to volunteers and community members. We can also teach a “train-the-trainers” class so that the Ally Skills Workshop can reach more people in your organization.


A woman explains while a man listens“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. – A​nonymous 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


Ally Skills Workshop slides: Example slides for the Ally Skills Workshop that can be easily customized, with extensive presentation notes (ODP) (PPT) (PDF)

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.


Will you teach other people how to teach the workshop?

We are happy to teach a “train-the-trainers” workshop for a fee. Email to get a quote.

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What if I can’t attend an Allies Workshop in person?

The Allies Workshop curriculum, slides, and an captioned video of the workshop are available online and licensed CC BY-SA. See the resources section of our Ally Skills Workshop page.

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How much does the Allies Workshop cost?

The Allies Workshop is available for a fee, with various discounts available for non-profits, small companies, and how many seats are available to volunteers or community members. 100% of Allies Workshop fees fund the Ada Initiative’s work supporting women in open technology and culture. Fees vary based on the number of people attending, the organization’s financial need, and travel costs. Email for a free quote.

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What do you mean by “allies”?

Allies are people who are not themselves part of a particular group, but support people in that group. Allies are a crucial part of supporting women in open technology and culture. While this workshop is designed specially for allies, people of all genders are welcome to attend. The most successful workshops have about 50% male attendees.

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How long is the Allies Workshop?

The Allies Workshop starts at 1 hour in length. Most participants prefer 2 hours, with a 15 minute break.

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How many people can attend an Allies Workshop?

The workshop works best with 20 – 30 participants.

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Who created the Allies Worshop?

The majority of the Allies Workshop was written by Ada Initiative co-founders Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner, with help from the open tech/culture community. The full curriculum is freely available online and licensed CC-BY-SA.

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