[hackerspaces] How Do You Bring In Women?

Zack Freedman magikazoc at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 19:00:43 CET 2013

It seems like many hackerspaces get women through the doors but scare them off. The MakerBar has a slightly different problem - women simply never show up in the first place!

Of the 750+ people who have come through our doors, perhaps ten have been women. I'm wondering how to increase this.

I can't figure out why - our marketing mix of Twitter, Meetup organic traffic, flyer campaigns, word-of-mouth, and presenting at relevant Meetups/collectives have worked wonders, but are only bringing in dudes. None of these are really male-oriented, which makes the results odd.

We run two open houses a week, sell off-the-shelf and custom soldering kits, have two beginner/intermediate classes on Arduino, RasPi, etc per month, and have a social/games night every month. Our members do programming, woodworking, electronics, soft circuits, circuit bending, etc. Interest and attendance have been at an all-time high, but again, all male.

So, I'm wondering what the MakerBar needs to do to get a better balance. Are there events/classes that attract more women? What marketing works/turns off women? Might our location in a converted warehouse be scaring girls away? Is this even a problem?

Women of the hackerspace universe, how did you find out about your current space? What event brought you in?

For what it's worth, our 'stickiness' with women may even be better than men. Of those ~10 women who've shown up, one is a member and two are diehard class and open-house addicts who come back very often. Almost all of our members are married or in committed relationships; either way, we're a pretty classy and non-creeper bunch that I can't see scaring anyone away.

It must be awkward being the only girl at a space, and I'd like to get a critical mass to make anyone, no matter what demographic, more comfortable.
Zack Freedman // MakerBar // Hardware Hacker from the Near Future

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