Posts tagged #programming

Ada Lovelace Day: Selena Deckelmann and Jackie Kazil

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, folks!

Named for Lady Ada Lovelace, a collaborator of Charles Babbage's and the first computer programmer of the modern world, Ada Lovelace Day is an opportunity to celebrate women in science, technology, math, and engineering.

My Adas this year are people I've only recently met--Selena Deckelmann and Jackie Kazil. Hanging out with these two amazing women in tech was my favorite part of DjangoCon.

Selena Deckelmann contributes to PostreSQL and runs Postrgres Open, a non-profit Postgres conference. At Djangocon 2012, she gave a keynote titled "While We're Here, Let's Fix Computer Science Education." Now she's working on finding new and creative ways for CS teachers and programmers to collaborate to make CS education more awesome. This is a cause near and dear to my heart--her talk really fired me up to want to go out and build stuff. When the discussions at DjangoCon around her talk inspired her to create a mailing list about the topic, I jumped all over it. I'm really excited to see what comes of it.

Jackie Kazil founded PyLadies DC, a group that encourages and supports women Python developers. PyLadies sponsored the scholarship that got me to DjangoCon in the first place, and once I was there, Jackie encouraged me to submit my first proposal for a technical talk. She also leads intro workshops on Python and Django to help get more people excited about tech.

I also want to give a shout-out to Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora, the founders of The Ada Initiative, because their work makes my life better.

And, as always, a shout-out to Mackenzie, without whose support, encouragement, and mentorship I'd still be printing "Hello World."

Posted on October 16, 2012 .

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I'm an Ada's Anchor

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

Last night, I became The Ada Initiative's 100th Sustaining Donor for 2013.

The Ada Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the participation and status of women in open technology and culture. They do a lot of great work, including advocating for conference Anti-Harassment policies, which make tech conferences safer and more welcoming spaces for women and other minorities. They also organize AdaCamp. AdaCamp DC was a really positive experience for me, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend.

Many wonderful people advocate for women in open tech and culture (OT&C), but our community still has a long way to go. Mary Gardener and Valerie Aurora founded the Ada Initiative so they could treat advocacy for women in OT&C as the full-time job that it is. Those of us who value this work need to understand that while volunteer efforts are important and necessary, expecting women and our allies to do this work on a strictly volunteer basis is another way of devaluing our contributions to Open Tech and Culture. We can't be equal participants if we're expected to spend a good chunk of our free time--time others get to spend actually contributing to OT&C projects--fighting for our right to safe spaces and basic respect.

The Ada Initiative's impact on my own life and career extends beyond a couple awesome days at AdaCamp. Their work to promote Anti-Harassment Policies has lead to a sea-change in how conferences think about and address harassment and assault. I've been attending geek conventions since I was thirteen, and I'd gotten so used to sexual harassment that I just thought of it as the price of attending cons. The two conferences I've attended in the past year have been the first I've ever been to where I was neither harassed nor assaulted. One of them had an anti-harassment policy based on the Ada Initiative template. The other addressed their efforts to increase women's participation in their project in several talks and sessions, including the keynote. I have no doubt that the Ada Initiative contributed to their thinking on that. The Ada Initiative's work has made me feel safer and more welcome at conferences.

They've also helped to foster a community of women and allies within OT&C who support each other in speaking out about bad behavior. When a company does something sexist, or a speaker includes pornography or references to 'explaining technology to girls' in their talk, they're increasingly more likely to get called out for it. Public censure is an important tool in developing an atmosphere where misogyny and harassment are not acceptable.  The Ada Initiative's advocacy inspires me, supports me, and gives me hope for the future of women in Open Technology and Culture.

The Ada Initiative is still seeking donors to sustain its work in 2013. I'm an Ada's Anchor. Will you join me?

Posted on October 11, 2012 .

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I spent Tuesday and Wednesday kickin' it with a bunch of awesome feminist women in open stuff at Ada Camp DC.

The unconference structure and the Ada Initiative's inclusive definition of Open Stuff created this really rich mix of people and topics, ranging from a beginning python workshop to a session on fanvids. One workshop on soft circuits produced a patch of fabric with LEDs sewn in.

Speaking of fabric, the funny overlap between tech and yarn also made a strong showing--it seemed like every session I attended had at least one person knitting. As a few of us discussed at the con, the center of that particular Venn Diagram makes perfect sense to those of us who sit in it. Making knitting patterns is a lot like programming (what is it, after all, but a series of for loops and If statements?). Which makes actual knitting an adventure in compiling.

On Wednesday night, the Wikimedia Foundation (who was also AdaCamp's biggest sponsor--Thanks, Wikimedia!) invited us all to the Library of Congress to join the kick-off reception for Wikimania. The Library of Congress had a bunch of docents on hand to tell us about the neat features of the building, but my favorite part was the Librarians who were there to talk about the LOC's efforts to digitize and otherwise open up their collection, to get it in front of as many people as possible. Librarians are the best.

Also the best: the Ada Initiative and conference volunteers. I really appreciate the hard work they put in to make Ada Camp happen. And of course the sponsors (including Wikimedia, the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora, and Yammer). It was a great conference, and I'm really glad I could be there.

Posted on July 13, 2012 .

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