[hackerspaces] How Do You Bring In Women?

Greg McGuire greg at nesit.org
Fri Jan 18 23:01:13 CET 2013

Listen, this conversation is just going to go round and round and round and round and round.  Our inboxes are going to get filled up until people are tired of talking. And then a day or two later someone is going to bring it up again and it's going to start the cycle over.

We're approaching 100 emails (98 including this one) about women in hackerspaces, makerspaces, feminism, bullying, and knitting.  And I'm not looking to say that women do or don't belong, feminists are good or evil, and that knitting does or doesn't blow.  Basically, what I'm looking to say is that no one person, or group of people, can or should decide. 

The world is a very diverse place.  What makes sense to me isn't necessarily going to make since to someone in another country than mine, let alone another part of my country, let another part of my state. If you want to start a space, than more power to you.  I hope that you have a good base group of people that get along with each other and that you can find the money to get a space that suits your groups needs. But the X factor is really what happens after you get going, and nobody on this mailing list can tell you what that is. If you started a space and you're not about to shutter your doors, than more power to you. Clearly, what you're doing is working for you.  This is one of the reasons why there are multiple spaces in the same cities and towns, and in the same country/state within an hour of each other. What works for your space isn't always going to work for the space down the road.

As for the women thing, if you're a woman and you want to join or participate at a space, than do it. Whether there are a hundred men there or three. They're idiots if they, "scare you away," and you're an idiot if you're, "scared away." Hackers, makers, engineers, geeks, and nerds, aren't cookie cutter people.  They think and act differently than, "mainstream people," let alone people in their own categories.  Give them time to get to know them before you either run away screaming or you run them out on a rail because you don't like them. Also, if you witness something happening or think that something might be about to happen that is questionable, than talk to somebody about it.  Not only does, "if you see something say something," work for fighting the terrorists of the world, it works for problems in communities around the world and has been for thousands of years. I personally would love to have women working on things at the space I'm a part of, unfortunately for me my space is 100% men.  Aside from making up events based on stereotypes like pie baking, book clubs, sewing circles, Twilight, et cetera, I don't know how to do that.

There are organizations that are dedicated to women in technology, but they're not everywhere and I don't hear of them doing events in our spaces. Maybe we should find a way to court them?


Greg McGuire
Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Director - NESIT
Email: greg at nesit.org
Office: 203-514-2257
Cell: 860-501-9428

On Jan 18, 2013, at 2:17 PM, Ron Bean <makerspace at rbean.users.panix.com> wrote:

> Pete Prodoehl <raster at gmail.com> writes:
>> 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.)
> Also, it was a former grinding shop, in a 100 year old building, and it
> was inherently filthy. Black dust constantly filtered out of the ceiling
> beams, and we could never keep anything really clean. Anything related
> to textiles was a non-starter. This wasn't just a problem for women, it
> was a problem for any activity that needed a clean surface to work on.
> Fortunately that's not a problem at our new space.
> On the upside, we started with a very diverse set of interests (not just 
> computers & electronics, although we have those also), and we generally 
> welcome anyone who brings any kind of skills to share, or who wants to 
> learn.
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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