[hackerspaces] Women in Makerspaces

Dave tallycast at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 22:57:04 CET 2013

Melissa - I appreciate your perspective and personally struggle with
finding ways to involve a more diverse group in the space.  I think the
main thing is to find people who are excited about their projects and who
need a place and a community to build them.  It's a matter of reaching out
to as many people as you can without filtering by gender or orientation or
skin color or anything other than their willingness to participate and
follow the (very limited) rules.  I also agree with your thoughts regarding
balance on the board.  Role models with whom you can identify with are

Buddy - If you have members creeping out women when they come through the
door, you ought to try reeducating them first and then kicking them out if
their behavior doesn't change.

In the good news department:  Our space is new and we've had, so far, only
two open evenings.  Gender has been somewhat diverse at both events and
well within Melissa's 15% metric.

Remember, respect is circular.

David Brightbill
Making Awesome

On Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Melissa Hall <melissa.hall at gmail.com>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.
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