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Ada Initiative Supports Women in Open Source, Counters Sexism

Feb 08, 2011, 16:04 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)

"In the last two years, sexism in free and open source software (FOSS) culture has been increasingly discussed and documented. (See Sexism: Open Source Software's Dirty Little Secret.) However, little has been done about it.

"Now, women's advocates Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner are determined to change this situation by the creation of The Ada Initiative, a non-profit organization to encourage women's participation in both FOSS and related groups such as the Free Culture Movement and Wikipedia. It's an ambitious effort, but one that the founders are determined to make, despite the inevitable hostility with which their efforts will be received in some circles.

"Both Aurora and Gardiner have been active in FOSS women's groups for over a decade. However, the catalyst for the Ada Initiative was the hostile responses to Noirin Shirley's account of being sexually assaulted at ApacheCon in November 2010. The incident led to Aurora, Gardiner, and other members of the Geek Feminism blog to draft sample anti-harassment policies for conferences, and eventually to Aurora quitting her work as a full-time kernel developer at Red Hat to focus on the issues involved.

"Named after Ada Lovelace, an associate of Charles Babbage who is often credited with being the first computer programmer, The Ada Initiative is intended as a means to do the kind of intensive work that is difficult -- if not impossible -- when relying on volunteers"

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