[hackerspaces] Women in Makerspaces

spider spider at spiderwebz.nl
Thu Jan 17 15:29:20 CET 2013

On 17.01.2013 14:43, Melissa Hall wrote:
> I have gone back and forth on talking about this.  Mostly because a
> lot of what I have to say is very personal. And I hesitate to talk
> about such things in "geek space" without data to backing.  I am
> speaking only to women because it is the only thing that is unusual
> about be as a maker.  Other diversity groups such as race, language,
> culture and economic background are very important but I can't speak
> to them intelligently.  I am also not discussing issues of gender
> identification or queerness because I don't really have much to say
> about that either.
> I generally find places with less than 15% or so women become
> uncomfortable.  I don't know quite why but that seems to be a tipping
> point for me.
> I also know that, for me, there is a kind of "hacker culture" "macho"
> that also works poorly for me.  That is the idea that focus and time
> is the measure of value.  The values I prefer in space to feel
> comfortable are "taking care of each other", which can sometimes rub
> rugged individualists the wrong way, but which I have also always
> felt is a deep part of the geek/hacker/maker culture we all share.
> I know I feel I failed my own space.  Or at least I feel like I have.
>  For me this feels like it happened in two moments.
> The first was in the bylaws meeting.  I wanted leadership to be my
> nomination from someone else.  That got changed to encourage
> self-nomination.  Someone said "I don't think you should be a leader
> if you are not willing to ask for it".  I didn't fight that and have
> regretted it ever since. 
> My experience with community groups is that, in general, those who
> support leaders who proclaim their leadership have fewer women.
>  Groups where leadership is something that is affirmed by members of
> the group tend to have more women.  I have theories as to why but
> no data.  I just know that for me it is FAR easier to accept a
> nomination than to nominate myself.
> The second was the most recent.  I stepped down from leadership in my
> space early.  It was the right thing for me because I am preparing
> for a move and I did not want to leave abruptly at an important
> transition point.  However I deeply regret not having this discussion
> about visible diversity in leadership at the time.  Our space is
> still new, and I have hopes it will change, but having no visible
> diversity in leadership is a concern.  On the other hand the team
> that is there does a great job and really made things happen.
> We are not country clubs, I don't want our membership to look like we
> are. If making is about sharing not being diverse is a serious
> failure.  If you want girls you really do need women.  I don't have
> any real answers here, but I am glad it is a topic of discussion.  

Hi! A question, what exactly do you want to know from other women? If 
they also feel uncomfortable when there's less than 15% or so women? Or 
what values we seek in makerspaces/hackerspaces? If other women think 
they can take leadership? Or if they actually would like to take 
leadership? Or if we need another women to take leadership? Or... all of 
the above?!


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