Lights out for Ada Initiative – women's group closing shop

Management decides to wind down advocacy group after four years

Ada Lovelace

Women-in-tech advocacy group The Ada Initiative is shutting down.

The creators of the women's open-source developer organization said they will be closing down operations following a fruitless search for a new executive director. The group plans to cease operations by mid-October.

Started in 2011, the Ada Initiative advocated for women working in the open source software fields. The group took on issues such as discrimination against female developers and the harassment of women at technology conferences.

Named for mathematics pioneer Ada Lovelace, the Ada Initiative also hosted workshops, camps, and seminars for women in the technology field.

"We are proud of what we accomplished with the support of many thousands of volunteers, sponsors, and donors, and we expect all of our programs to continue on in some form without the Ada Initiative," the group said in its announcement of its demise.

"When the Ada Initiative was founded in 2011, the environment for women in open technology and culture was extremely hostile. Conference anti-harassment policies were rare outside of certain areas in fandom, and viewed as extremist attempts to muzzle free speech."

The group said that the decision to close up shop came following a failed effort to bring in a new executive director. Co-founder Valerie Aurora stepped down from the role last year and, after co-founder Mary Gardiner declined to take over, the group sought out a new executive director. Their choice, Crystal Huff, left the organization after just two months on the job.

"After much deliberation, the board decided to do an orderly shutdown of the Ada Initiative, in which the organization would open source all of our remaining knowledge and expertise in freely reusable and modifiable form," the group said.

"We don't feel like non-profits need to exist forever. The Ada Initiative did a lot of great work, and we are happy about it."

The announcement drew tributes and messages from many within the IT industry.

Following the shutdown, the Ada Initiative directors plan to release many of the group's projects, including workshop and training materials, free to the public. In the meantime, the Initiative said it will continue to host workshop events it has scheduled in Oakland, CA and Sydney, Australia.

The Ada Project organizers have cancelled scheduled or recurring donations and said that, following the shutdown, any extra funds it has will be donated to an allied group. ®




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