[hackerspaces] Women in Makerspaces

Yves Quemener quemener.yves at free.fr
Fri Jan 18 09:25:22 CET 2013

On 17/01/13 21:02, Melissa Hall wrote:
> To me "Macho" is not exclusively male and refers to an attitude that "I can
> take it, I am tougher, and harder and can keep going when others fail".
>  Being "tough enough" to take long hours or poor working conditions is
> something I see as Macho. 
> Given that perspective can you see why I see "grinding" as Macho?

Yes, but now I fail to see what it has to do with women in hackerspaces. I
do not believe in extra long working days, but some people do. Some men and
some women do. I do believe that being able to focus 8-10 hours on a
project in a session, however, is invaluable. Taking on sleep to do it
doesn't seem worthwhile to me, but what do I know? Different people a

I fail to see what is particularly feminine or masculine there.

> I also see women who put up with boys clubs,
> being hit on aggressively and being sexualized as being Macho because they
> are proving they can take it.

Male or females, there are assholes in most groups. In a 95% male
population, 95% of assholes will be male. And male assholes tend to be
single and to clumsily try to find a girlfriend in every occasion, which
means that 95% of the assholes will bother the 5% female population. That
may be the phenomenon that makes it harder for females under a 15% gender

But I would like to point that, as a white straight male, I do have also to
deal with assholes. Sure, most won't court me, but they will talk to me
endlessly about their pet interests or try to drag me into uninteresting
events, they will disrupt sessions, discussions, workshops. This is a pain,
but this is also life in any social group.

If you have a cure to assholishness, I am very interested, but a lot of the
feminist criticism I see against hackerspaces seem to hinge on that point.

It will probably sound "macho" too, but the only solution I see to this is
to deal with it. It is hard to project one in such a different situation,
but I really believe that is a hackerspace existed in my town when we
started one, I would have participated in it even if the ratio of assholes
was high.

I do believe that there is a clear lack of interest in the female
population for the hackerspace/makerspace movement that mirrors the fact
that the technical world is very masculine. The reasons are interesting to
explore, but I doubt that the hackerspaces are at fault on this.

While abusive behavior must not be tolerated, I doubt they are the main
reasons for the lack of female involvement in hackerspaces. I personally
continue to believe, maybe politically incorrectly, that a lot of negative
stereotypes are propagated by women themselves. Most of the people that
told me that programming or electronics were male hobbies were women who
held this as an evident fact. "Your sister does program? Is this because of
her boyfriend?" As long as technical hobbies will be seen as a male thing,
it is hopeless to hope reach the parity in a hackerspace.

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