[hackerspaces] sexual harrasment

Alan Fay emptyset at freesideatlanta.org
Tue Nov 11 18:58:00 CET 2014

\On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM, Florencia Edwards <floev22 at gmail.com>

> How do you deal with sexual harassment at your spaces?

Freeside based its Anti-Harassment Policy on the guidelines for conferences
provided by the Ada Initiative: [

That's just a policy, though - and is powerless without enforcement.

First and foremost, leadership has to lead by example.  Any person in a
leadership role in the organization that engages in harassment should be
removed immediately.  Any tolerance of harassing behavior by leadership
will quickly spread through the organization, and diversity will suffer as
a result.

Secondary, it's important to establish the right culture and attitude.
What I tell my fellow Directors and Officers is: "Treat every person that
walks through the door as your equal."  That tends to work really well.

There's always a few people that don't get it, so it's important to not
only follow-up with those individuals, but also with the members or
visitors that they interact with.  I have a serious conversation with the
individual, where I put all the cards on the table.  For example, to
explain exactly how their comments or actions impact the organization, how
the recipients of their words or behaviors interpreted their actions, etc.

Thankfully, our membership process tends to find any potential problems
before onboarding.  One really good test that works for us is taking
potential members out to a restaurant, to break some bread with other
members.  99% of the time, you learn everything about a person treats
others by observing their behavior towards a waiter.

It's kind of a chicken and egg problem, but having diversity promotes
diversity.  If there's enough women at the space, then women feel more
welcome and secure/confident to fight back harassment in the absence of
leadership.  I still don't know how to promote diversity, but respect and
non-harassing leadership seemed to work for Freeside.
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