[hackerspaces] hackerspace demographics

Al Jigong Billings albill at openbuddha.com
Tue Jan 15 05:33:22 CET 2013


On Jan 14, 2013, at 8:32 PM, Michel Gallant <sfxman at gmail.com> wrote:

> "Hi, I'm a man and here's why your complaint is not legitimate"
> On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM, Matt Joyce <matt at nycresistor.com> wrote:
>> I don't see a knitting groups lack of jive with a hackerspace
>> community as being a gender bias.
>> For instance, at Noisebridge a continued point of protest I've heard
>> before is the people who come in solely to use the kitchen.
>> If a sub group within the community is not really jiving with the
>> greater community it's really not necessarily a bias built upon
>> gender.  it sounds like ( from my reading ) that it was more of a lack
>> of shared interests.
>> And that can be problematic in either direction.  If I were to show up
>> with 3 of my good friends ( male or female ) at a knitting circle and
>> starting soldering arduinos into the scarves / sweaters / awesome
>> socks / I was knitting there's a good chance that over time I would
>> wear out my welcome with the rest of the knitting circle.
>> While I am all for identifying areas where people can be made to feel
>> more comfortable, I am also all for not trying to fit square blocks
>> into round holes.  If two communities don't share common interests,
>> they will likely not share space well.  Trying to change that seems a
>> futile effort to me.
>> And, while there are those that do transcend multiple groups, that
>> does not mean that those groups will be able to jive.
>> Curious why you thought it was related to the gender of the knitting
>> group members over the potential lack of shared interests?
>> On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 10:55 PM, Lisha Sterling <lishevita at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 9:27 PM, Nathaniel Bezanson <myself at telcodata.us>
>> > wrote:
>> >>
>> >> on paper our membership is about 80% male, but if you look at the people
>> >> who actually show up and participate, it's a lot more even -- roughly 60/40
>> >> most of the time.
>> >
>> >
>> > It sounds like you have a great space there!
>> >
>> > Last year at SpaceCamp, an unconference for hacker and maker spaces run by
>> > School Factory, we had an informal poll of the founders and facilitators
>> > there to see what the gender makeup was. Despite the fact that there were
>> > about 30% women at the conference, it turned out that the membership of
>> > hackerspaces tended to run closer to 90/10 with a few notable exceptions. A
>> > couple of the women there spoke directly to the fact that they were made to
>> > feel unwelcome at some hackerspaces even as the hackerspace *said* that they
>> > were being gender-blind.
>> >
>> > An example that I can think of off the top of my head is how at one mid-west
>> > hackerspace, a woman started a knitting group that brought in a lot of other
>> > women. Some of those women became involved in other areas of the hacker
>> > space, but not all of them did. However, *some* of the men in the
>> > hackerspace continually berated and badmouthed the knitting group,
>> > complaining that it was taking up space that should have been used for
>> > "real" hacking like woodwork, metalwork, programming and electronics. The
>> > knitting group wasn't forced to stop, but the discomfort from the way that
>> > they were treated meant that fewer women wanted to come, not only to the
>> > knitting group, but to other functions as well. The knitting group died, and
>> > the hackerspace was left with only a couple of female members (one of which
>> > went on to become a facilitator at another hackerspace).
>> >
>> > I agree that the way to get future women into the hackerspaces is to get
>> > their parents in today. We all need role models. Are parents are our first
>> > role models. The other adults in the spaces we frequent as a child (school,
>> > scouts, daycare, hackerspace, etc) are very important as well.
>> >
>> > There is another issue that needs to be addressed, and that is making sure
>> > that your hackerspace is an open and welcoming place to all: women, gays,
>> > transgendered people, people of different faiths, or colors, or shapes, or
>> > sizes...
>> >
>> > There is a lot of work going on in this area at a lot of hackerspaces and
>> > that is really fantastic. Be aware, though, that you might not be aware of
>> > the issues facing any minority in your space. Sometimes you can find out by
>> > asking. Sometimes you can't. An of course, if you don't know that there is a
>> > problem, it's pretty much impossible to fix it. But when someone does speak
>> > up, hear them out and see what can be done.
>> >
>> > As for women not wanting to talk to the press about being a woman in a
>> > hackerspace, there may be several reasons for that. 1) It's really awesome
>> > at your space and they don't see a point. In which case you should maybe
>> > encourage them to speak to the press and say exactly that, since it will
>> > help women who feel timid about joining *any* hackerspace more likely to
>> > show up. 2) They are sick of saying the same things over and over to the
>> > press, being misrepresented and painted as either a victim or a hero or some
>> > other archetype rather than as a person who hangs out at a hackerspace. 3)
>> > They really don't like anything that smacks of personal advertising. "Get my
>> > name in the paper? Ick! No thank you!!" 4-infinity) I can't possibly know
>> > all the other reasons...
>> >
>> > - Lisha
>> >
>> > --
>> > http://www.alwayssababa.com/
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
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>> > Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
>> > http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>> >
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