Last winter, I was assaulted at ApacheCon. I was shocked, upset. I had no idea how to react. The conference organisers, a team I was part of, had no idea how to react either.
In the end, I wrote about what happened. I expected a worried phone call from my mother, the most faithful reader of this blog. I hoped that I could pass out the link to trusted friends, and ask for their support without having to explain the whole story over and over.
Instead, it got picked up in the wildfire that is the internet, and I nearly took down the machine it was hosted on, a shared machine belonging to an old Irish friend.
People turned up in droves. Jerks told me I deserved it. They said I should be grateful for the attention, because I wasn’t hot enough to get a boyfriend. They thought it was my own fault for going to a technical conference, and joining in the evening activities.
And reasonable people turned up, saying they couldn’t believe that this kind of thing still happens, either the assault or the violent responses. Many of them just had no idea how to react to this.
Luckily, I have a strong group of awesome and supportive friends. One of them, Valerie Aurora, spearheaded the writing of a Conference Anti-Harassment Policy that was soon adopted by a variety of conferences and events.
The Ada Initiative is dedicated to a simple vision: a world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open technology, open data, and open culture. Their strategy for change is simple: give concrete, straight-forward advice to willing and eager audiences. They focus their effort on programs that are scalable, reusable, and effective, and they are committed to providing their work completely free of charge.
Of course, it still takes money to do these things. And that’s where you come in. The Ada Initiative has just opened a limited funding round, aiming to raise the seed money required to bootstrap the legal structures that will enable them to accept larger, long-term funding.
If you want to support their vision, if you think women should be able to attend conferences without fear of being assaulted, if you want to help make sure that the next generation of women are welcomed into computing, consider contributing to the Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign.