[hackerspaces] How Do You Bring In Women?

Pete Prodoehl raster at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 19:55:45 CET 2013

Where are you located? The location of your space is also key... we were 
in a old industrial complex one member called "Assault Town" (though we 
never experienced any assaults) it was not a place that most women would 
feel comfortable going to alone at night. (I know, because I asked one.)

Our new space is in a great part of town, with lots of nearby 
businesses, houses, and a vibrant arts community. With all that and the 
clean bathrooms, we're hoping we can appeal to more people who didn't 
feel comfortable hanging out in a filthy old industrial complex.


On 1/18/13 12:00 PM, Zack Freedman wrote:
> 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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