[hackerspaces] Discuss Digest, Vol 53, Issue 41

Faruq Hunter faruqh at gc-usa.com
Tue Jan 15 15:03:48 CET 2013

- In Response to the comments on diversity an inclusion

There are some statistical reports that support the notion that STEM
industries are some of the least inclusive in the United States. I feel
that this is beyond a simple necessity for Kumbaya moments and more of a
major inhibitor to the overall impact and growth of the hacker/maker
movement. The growing of the hacker/maker movement can, arguably, be
attributed to the change of our global economic focus and increasing
economic instability. Not to say that hackers and makers haven't always
existed, but growth is usually spawned by a catalyst. Unarguably, we are
cycling through a global economical shift.

Notice I am using the word inclusion over diversity. The reason is about
the percentage of hacker/makers to the overall population. The diversity of
that group should be representative of the diversity of the populace. If
there are 100 hackers in a space, 40% White, 30% Hispanic,
20% African american and 10% Other, then you have achieved a substantial
diverse group. But if the populace of the city where that space exists is 6
million people, then you have achieved a very poor level of inclusion.
Diversity should be a function of inclusion, they are not synonymous.

When I got the idea to start GeniusCorps, in order to focus on the issue of
inclusion in the hacker/maker or innovation space, I was not even in the
United States, I was actually travelling between Egypt, Kosovo, France and
Romania. In Egypt there are over 80 million people - many who fought for
hopes of brighter opportunities in the recent revolution. The country has
over 80% internet saturation and almost 40% of the population has smart
phones. The density of PHD's and Engineers is far greater than the United
States, but over 80% of the population make less than $3 a day. In Romania,
the tech industry is growing so fast that there is a fear that the shortage
of skilled workers will create a bubble that could cause the industry to
collapse. At the same time most of Romania's population live in low
income communities.  In France - Do I need to mention France. In Kosovo the
unemployment rate is just south of 50%. And in the US, we have less than
38% broadband penetration and almost the worst STEM education results in
the world.

These things do more than dim the prospect of economic development for our
country, but with just a sampling of these countries, the lack of inclusion
in the cornerstone of innovative activities - the hacker/maker space means
a drastic reduction in the diversity of solutions that will shape our
world's economic outlook. It also means that the long reaching, life and
condition changing impacts that derive from the hacker/maker movement will
be restricted to a very small percentage of the populace.

Much like the "I'm a hacker first" guys mentioned in and earlier posts,
hacker's and makers must understand their place in the overall development
of our socio-economic condition and the development of society as a whole.
In our own time, forms of hackerspaces and makerspaces have produced the
manufacturers and largest companies that exist. I know I don't need to name
them, but just the tech based companies generate over 5.4 trillion dollars
globally. Not to mention the non-tech industries that are impacted by R&D
done by hackers or makers. History has shown us that this tinkering and
building leads to the development of the life changing inventions and
businesses of the short future. So inclusion isn't a side conversation,
given that 3/4 of the world's income lie in the hands of 20% of the
population, inclusion should be the primary conversation.

I developed GeniusCorps to focus holistically on the issue of the level of
inclusion in the innovative space. I think Steven's philosophy is right.
Prepare the environment for diverse inclusion and partner with those who
are trying to focus on inclusion in order to drive inclusion into the
space. If you look at it the right way, you are essentially getting low
cost marketing of the space, so there is also a major financial benefit to
the space and its members by making it more financially stable and
increasing the amount of services that can be offered to each individual
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