[hackerspaces] How Do You Bring In Women?

Angus Gratton gus at projectgus.com
Sat Jan 19 04:07:57 CET 2013

On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 01:21:08PM -0500, Lokkju Brennr wrote:
> It seems like many day spas get men through the doors but scare them
> off. The SalonBar has a slightly different problem - men simply never show
> up in the first place!
> Of the 750+ people who have come through our doors, perhaps ten have been
> men. I'm wondering how to increase this.

Hi Lokkju,

>From your email it looks like you're equating male interest in day
spas with female interest in hackerspaces. I read the implication as
being that in either case 10 in 750 (1.3%) is representative and Zack
is mistaken in questioning what they're doing wrong.

I'm wondering what the actual numbers of men potentially interested in
day spas and women potentially interested in hackerspaces are.

For spa goers, it's hard to find an industry wide source but 10-30%
men spa attendees in the US seems the norm.[1] So if your spa had 1%
it could easily make you wonder what you were doing wrong.

I looked for some data to quantitatively estimate women's potential
interest in hackerspaces.

People at many hackerspaces do electronics and other
engineering. 12-18% of electrical engineers in the US are women.[2]

People at many hackerspaces write software. 20% of software engineers
in the US are women.[3]

Obviously industry numbers aren't indicative of general interest (and
come with their own cultural and environmental baggage), but they give
a strong indication that it's more than 1.3%.

Moreover, many hackerspaces encourage "anyone who wants to hack or make
anything", as per the awesome Dutch poster posted yesterday?  With
such a wide net, an interest for everyone, the gender proportion of
potentially interested people should therefore be around 50/50.

For example, Crash Space in LA with their 50/50 gender split.[4]

So I can see why Zack would like the demographic at MakerBar to
more closely resemble the demographic of potentially interested
people. I think it's great he's asking for help and trying.

If I were Zack, I'd want MakerBar to appeal to every single person who
could get practical productive use from it, and contribute to the
community. I think that's a worthwhile goal. And I think it's
definitely worth supporting anyone who wants to work towards it.

- Angus

[1] http://www.dayspamagazine.com/slideshow/they%E2%80%99ve-got-male

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_engineering_in_the_United_States#Statistics_and_relevant_data

(I'm using US stats because they're easiest to come by and the
original poster was in the US, but this link has numbers for many
other countries.)


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