[hackerspaces] An interesting point of view : "On Feminism and Microcontrollers"

Chris Weiss cweiss at gmail.com
Sat Oct 2 21:43:41 CEST 2010

In St. Louis we have only a few female members, but when they visit on
their own accord, they tend to stick around at a much higher rate than
male vistors.

it doens't sound like you guys are doing anything wrong, you just
haven't had the right women come across your space.

On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 2:30 PM, Sylva1n <sylv41n at gmail.com> wrote:
> Are there clear female-barrier-to-entry identified for hackerspaces,
> or female no-noes that hackerspaces-in-the-making should be aware of?
> Because in Grenoble (France), despite the openness of our
> hackerspace-creation process, we have no female-hacker interest. None.
> Zilch.
> I've recently visited the Toulouse hackerspace, and despite the sole
> female hacker being treated exactly like any other member (no sexist
> jokes, nor special privileges), the gender imbalance is staggering!
> On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 2:35 PM, Maria Droujkova <droujkova at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  Lack of welcome takes different forms. For example, some books are read by
>> different genders disproportionally, because of words in them.
>> On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 6:27 AM, Yves Quemener <quemener.yves at free.fr> wrote:
>>> >
>>> Honestly, I am tired of this sexist crap...
>> Some types of conversations may feel repelling to either gender, because men
>> and women talk differently. You can see it at mixed parties, when they
>> separate. There are general conversation styles, and then there are separate
>> ones, "girl talk" and "boy talk."
>> I used to hang out with physics and math Olympiad crowds and then math
>> students, mostly male, when I was young. There were a lot of subtle examples
>> of differences of this sort - discourse, body language, spatial behavior,
>> intellectual behavior, humor and so on.
>> Now I organize math groups for kids and for grown-ups. My kid groups are
>> homeschoolers, who can choose what classes to take, so you can see some of
>> those free choice behaviors. I can design a class that will predominantly
>> attract either gender, or a class that attracts both. I can also design a
>> class that either gender will perceive as unwelcoming. And this will have
>> very little to do with actual math content. For example, requiring writing
>> or text chat of 8-12 year olds, especially if you pay any attention to style
>> and grammar, will powerfully and disproportionately repel boys. Timed
>> competitive problem solving will disproportionally repel girls.
>> There are a lot of observations about these effects in free choice
>> situations, hacker spaces included. An example that has a lot of data is
>> World of Warcraft, where designers went out of their ways to welcome both
>> genders. This works for older people: there are about the same number of men
>> and women playing, once the player age is past 30 or so. However, female
>> youths between 15 and 20 are a tiny minority compared to males that age. The
>> ratio gradually changes toward 30. There are systemic social factors in-game
>> that cause this to happen, and these factors are quite complex.
>>> Sure, there are less girls in hackerspace because it is perceived as a
>>> boy's hobby. I personally think that this is wrong and that just shows a
>>> prejudice existing in the society as a whole. To change that, what we need
>>> is more female security experts, more female hardware hackers, more female
>>> robot makers but we don't need to make a new segregation between men's
>>> hacks and women's hacks, that would be just admitting defeat.
>> I fully agree with the first part of it. If women take key positions a
>> community, they change the atmosphere. Hackerspaces that have female
>> organizers, like our new Durham, NC space, don't seem to have segregation
>> issues. It may take some segregation for this to happen, initially, if an
>> established hackerspace is already segregated. For example, to invite women,
>> you may need to invite several of them at once to form a micro-community of
>> support within the space. This way, they will feel comfortable even before
>> the atmosphere changes enough and this segregated support is not needed
>> anymore.
>> Cheers,
>> Maria Droujkova
>> Make math your own, to make your own math.
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> --
> Sylvain
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