Supporting the Ada Initiative

5:46 pm adainitiative, womensoutreach

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I was so excited to be recently added to the Ada Initiative’s advisors. Perhaps coincidentally, it turns out that this week has been a time when the world demonstrates just how much we truly need the Ada Initiative.

I had my own personal negative experience this week. I posted my recap of my South By Southwest panel, in which I included a picture of me along with the other panelists, since I was wearing my copyright is censorship t-shirt from QuestionCopyright.Org. The very first comment I received on the post was a very specific comment about a part of my anatomy. While I suppose the comment in some sense could be considered complimentary, I instantly regretted having posted the picture. I deleted the comment and moved on, no big deal – but it reminded me of how off putting these things can be. I’m fairly thick-skinned now, but when I was younger, a comment like that could have just turned me off from blogging or even participating in this space at all. It was a fairly disheartening thing to happen, but reminded me all the more about how important the Ada Initiative and other efforts like it are for women in technology.

On a more significant level, as Lukas Blakk, another Ada Initiative advisor, has already blogged about today, there have been a couple of more serious situations of blatant sexism this week.

A tech company called Sqoot organized a hackathon in Boston, and included an overtly sexist advertisement for their event, luring the presumed male hackers by promising beer served to them by women. They further botched things through a weak apology.

The other incident involved a startup called, and a questionable video made to promote t-shirts with their logo. While made by a t-shirt company, and not themselves,’s t-shirts were prominently featured. The video has been taken down, but you can see how the twitter conversation about it went so badly.

As you can see, never has the Ada Initiative been so needed. The thing that impresses me the most about it (like the GNOME OPW, actually) is that it focuses on concrete and positive activities to improve the situation. Please spread the word about the Ada Initiative as a resource to all who may benefit from it, and consider making a donation.

I’m so thankful for the great GNOME community, for Marina’s amazing work and for the awesome mentors, interns and sponsors that participate in our Outreach Program for Women to make our community the kind of place where you’d want to shrug off the occasional negative comment to keep participating.

6 Responses

  1. Juanjo Marin Says:

    Although it is well known that there are sexist misbehaviours in the free software community, IMHO I think that most of the members of our the community for ethical reasons are also defenders of a free society without sex, religion, race or any other kind of barrier for ethical reasons. Or at least is my hope ;-)

  2. Faidon Liambotis Says:

    Speaking of T-Shirts, it’d be nice if the Ada Initiative had some up for sale, both to spread the word as you say, as well as having an incentive to donate :-)

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Chandni Verma Says:

    Hey! You are brave to talk about the issue openly. The very first comment I received from the open source community on my introductory post to “GNOME planet dwellers” wasn’t very welcoming either nor was it complimentary in any sense (the person who gave the very second comment evidenced it!). I too simply deleted it then and there accepting the fact that we find miscreants all around the globe who blatantly misbehave maybe because of delusional overconfidence that their majority will allow them to escape easily with perhaps support of their like-minded fellow mates. I can’t see any other reason to such behavior except to demonstrate that they are physically or mentally aggressive, unsound or wanting. I like the remaining members who strive for intellect!

  4. Jane Citizen Says:

    I notice in the invitation for AdaCamp there is a requirement:
    “share the Ada Initiative‚Äôs feminist approach to supporting and promoting women in open technology and culture”
    Why is there no other reference to feminism as a defining feature on
    Do you approve the openly sexist stance taken by 2 of the directors at

  5. svempa Says:

    Have read too much about sexism last couple of days. I think I’ll be voting for the feminist party next election. (I’m male, btw.)

  6. Bianca Gibson Says:

    You are brave to talk about it openly :).