[hackerspaces] Women in Makerspaces

rachel lyra hospodar rachelyra at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 23:46:05 CET 2013

"It could be that she host a class about e-textiles or whatever it is 
females like to talk about."


protip - sometimes women focus on the textile stuff *because* then they 
can be in a group that is at least 15% women.  The Feminist Hacker Hive 
that meets up at noisebridge has found that there is a tipping point - 
if a critical mass of women are present in conversation, they don't get 
interrupted by clueless neanderthal types.

I used to make a living as a carpenter, welder, and construction 
manager.  I left that work because of gender and age based disrespect.

I sniffed around the edges of Silicon Valley but didn't dive in for the 
same reasons.  I do work in soft circuitry now, but it's not because 
rigid circuits are too difficult.  It's a brute-force solution designed 
to avoid people as condescending as you, david.

If the tech industry truly wants to innovate on things like interface we 
could do with re-examining how people interact, and what we are really 
seeking.  To do that, though, we have to change the culture.


On 1/17/2013 8:26 AM, David Powell wrote:
> At Baltimore Hackerspace we have been 100% male until last month. We had
> the occasional Female come through the door but for whatever reason they
> never come back. We now have exactly 1 female member and about 20 male
> members. The males ALWAYS go out of their way to make the place more
> female friendly. For example we try hard not to use inappropriate
> language around females. Whenever they show a desire to learn something
> we stop what we are doing and teach them whatever it is they want to
> know. At the end of the night when they are leaving we always have
> someone walk them to their car so they feel safe.
> I highly encourage all members of our space no matter what their gender
> is to make it their own. For example we have Programmers, Electronic
> Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Accountants, Students, etc. and you can
> pick anyone person from any of those backgrounds and they could tell you
> a subject that they just don't care about. So if a programmer wants more
> programmers to talk to and hang out with I encourage them to send out a
> few e-mails and become more active online in order to help find more
> people interested in programming. I don't however expect the mechanical
> engineers to go find programmers if they have no interest in learning to
> program.
> I would say the same should be true with the female/male issue. If a
> hackerspace has one female and she wants more females in the hackerspace
> then she should start a campaign to find more females. It could be that
> she host a class about e-textiles or whatever it is females like to talk
> about.
> If a female in the hackerspace wants to be on our board I would gladly
> accept them but I would hold them to the same standards as I hold
> everyone. As a board member you are "Responsible" for the future of the
> hackerspace. This means a lot of work that really sucks. For us it is
> not just making decisions but actually getting the work done. For
> example we need brochures made to hand out to people who are coming
> through our door for the first time and at special events. Ok we voted
> that we need those. Now what? Well, someone has to actually design and
> make the things. But we don't have a budget to just pay a designer. So
> the person in charge of making it happen has to find someone with the
> talent to make it happen or figure out how to do it themselves. "But I
> just want to hack" is usually what most people say. Nobody wants to
> actually do anything the is important. They want to do what is fun at
> the time.
> As the president I spend about 40 hours a week making sure the finances
> are straight, making sure our social media is up to date, sending out
> request to try and get us stuff that we can't afford, making sure the
> place is clean for the next wave of new people who come through the
> door, making sure the projector works for the classes we host, making
> sure the refrigerator gets stocked with soda. I could keep going.
> My point is it does not matter what gender you are. It matters whether
> or not you actually do work which contributes to the future of the
> space. If you want more women then go find them. If you want more say in
> what is going on then offer to help take care of some of the task that
> need to be accomplished.
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