[Linux-aus] The Ada Initiative - Should Linux Australia support it?

John Ferlito johnf at inodes.org
Mon Feb 21 15:46:50 EST 2011

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 09:46:16AM +1100, Donna Benjamin wrote:
> The council has decided to support the Ada Initiative with a donation of
> $5000.00  (http://adainitiative.org)
> First let me say I reckon that's fantastic - but then I wholeheartedly
> support the aims and ambition of the Ada Initiative and it's founders
> Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora. I have provided support by way of a
> little graphic design, and I have agreed to sit on the advisory board.
> However, I also support AJ's suggestion that the LA council should
> operate a little more transparently when it comes to dispersal of funds,
> and that the membership might wish to scrutinise the decision.
> So - is it appropriate for LA to support the initiative? 
> If yes, then given the project is calling for cash, that support would
> best be delivered in the form of a donation. What level of donation
> would be appropriate? 
> Is $5,000 too much or too little?
> If no, why not?

I'd like to thank Donna for opening up this discussion, and to
apologise again for not previously taking this idea to the broader
community for more general discussion before the council made a

Early on during LCA I had a conversation with Mary Gardiner, where she
mentioned the project that she and Valerie Aurora were working on. At
the time I was quite interested and asked if we could have a meeting
to discuss their goals further. Towards the end of the week Alice
Boxhall and I met with Mary and Valerie where they explained the
concept in more detail.

To quote the website:

    The Ada Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to
    increasing participation of women in open technology and culture,
    which includes open source software, Wikipedia and other open
    data, and open social media. Co-founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie
    Aurora each have ten years of experience in open source software,
    open social media, and women in computing activism with groups
    like Geek Feminism, Systers, and LinuxChix. The Ada Initiative is
    focused on helping women get careers in open technology through
    recruitment and training programs for women, education for
    community members who want to help women, and working with
    corporations and projects to improve their outreach to women.

To get more of an insight into what The Ada Initiative is all about, I
would highly encourage people to visit http://adainitiative.org, and
in particular the About Us and Services pages.

In the Linux Australia 2010 Survey, only 10% of respondents who said
they were members of Linux Australia identified as female. This is
below the Australian share for ICT involvement and well below some
international figures.

The Open Source community has always suffered from an
under-represention by women, even in comparison to the ICT community
in general. By having a clear focus around women in Open Source I
believe that the Ada Initiative can help to improve this situation and
give all Open Source communities the resources they need to reach out
to women.

Mary and Valerie along with many others have been working on this sort
of thing in their spare time for years. Having been involved in Linux
Australia council for the last 12 months, I know full well that there
is only so much that can be achieved by volunteers.

Still in its early days, the Ada Initiative has already proven useful
to Linux Australia. Earlier this month we consulted with Mary and
Valerie on the outcome of the Friday LCA keynote and in particular the
discussions that took place on both the lca-chat and linux-aus mailing
lists. This input was invaluable in formulating our response.

One of the most difficult tasks when kicking off this type of
organisation is actually getting the process off the ground and all
the right pieces in place. By making this type of contribution early
in the piece, Linux Australia can help the Ada Initiative at a time
where its focus is around mundane admin tasks and fund raising so that
it can more quickly move towards its actual goals. We also hope that
by having Linux Australia - an influential member of the international
community - make a strong statement of support early on, this will
encourage the much larger donations that are required to make an
organisation like the Ada Initiative successful.

One of my core beliefs when running for president of Linux Australia
was that Linux Australia can and should be doing much more than just
supporting conferences like LCA. I personally want to see Linux
Australia take on a much more active role in terms of advocacy and
community outreach. I think there is a lot more that we can and should
do to support our community.

I believe that supporting organisations like the Ada Initiative is a
decisive step towards those goals.


Blog                             http://www.inodes.org
LCA2011                          http://www.lca2011.org.au

More information about the linux-aus mailing list