Supporting the Ada Initiative

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 Geekli.st, and a questionable video made to promote t-shirts with their logo. While made by a t-shirt company, and not geekli.st themselves, geekli.st’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.