Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Ada Initiative - why I donated

This post has little to do with Python, but a fair bit to do with the programming community.

I donated to the Ada Initiative recently.  The option I went with was the $1/day for a year, or $365.  In the receipt one of the officers of the organization left the note, "If you have a minute, can you let your friends know why you donated?  People usually donate because someone they trust supports the Ada Initiative."  Hopefully this post does something postitive to promote the organization which promotes women in computing.

First the disclaimers.  Do I agree with all the members of the Ada Initiative on everything including their approaches to promoting women in computing?  Have I been a model citizen and will I behave angelically and perfectly with regard to the promotion of women in computing?  Not entirely and probably not, respectively.

That said, I think the Ada Initiative has the best chance to make a difference in this realm.  I saw that Mary Gardiner is involved.  I don't know her personally, but I do know that she has done some quality work reviewing Pycon papers for the Python community.  Her online communication always impressed me as measured and intelligent.  Smart and not a jerk go a long way in my book.  Her participation in the project gives me a warm and fuzzy that my money will be put to good use.  Someone with a track record of working hard and producing results is involved.  Further, I believe from tweets that Leigh Honeywell is a supporter of the organization.  I met her at Pycon a few years back and have followed some of her online activity.  Her promotion of the cause lends even more credibility in my eyes.  The woman who dealt with my donation and setting up the matching grant from my employer, Valerie Aurora, was very helpful and professional.  All in all, I have very strong confidence that these dedicated, hard working women will affect good in the world, or at least give it a damn good effort.

Lastly, there are personal reasons.  As some of you may know, I lost my wife earlier this year.  My wife was a Unix shell scripter back in the early 90's.  She put up with a lot of nonsense at work.  An incident that sticks in my head is a Christmas party where a coworker came up to her and arrogantly and dismissively said, "Nice t*ts."  That sort of thing just isn't right and did contribute to her leaving the field.  It's hard to explain, but when you are faced with mortality issues, you end up rehashing a lot of things in your head.  In the end you're generally a lot less timid about doing things you always wanted to or thought you should do.

Well,  that's the story.


  1. Your link to the Ada Initiative is bad, it has an extra ')' at the end of the href.


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  4. Carl,

    Thank you for the thoughtful explanation for why you gave to the Ada Initiative. Not only is your financial gift generous, so is the wisdom here – and it will allow other WIT groups to have a better understanding of how we can get people like to you to support our cause.

    I'm sorry to read about the loss of your wife. I'm also sorry to read about her experience with a colleague. Thankfully I believe those instances are rare, but they do still happen, and hopefully the more we can share these stories, the more opportunities we will have to eventually get things right. Thank you for sharing.

    Cassie McDaniel
    Women && Tech

  5. @Ms. McDaniel, thank you, we'll hope for the best.