Thursday, February 11, 2016
Makerspaces and Gender
Classes in tool use definitely help, particularly if they are taught (or co-taught) by women.
Also I'd imagine that it would help to hire some female staff members and encourage male staff members to actively reach out to female members to help them feel welcome.
I totally agree that sewing and jewelry making and throwing pots and so on should 100% count as "making," and not be excluded just because they're the more traditional domain of women. I say put the sewing machines in with the band saws and the potters wheels in with the wood lathes and the 3D printers in with the resin-casting molds and let the folks who use that stuff talk to each other and see what each other are doing. Let the wood carvers make beads for the beaders, and let the jewelry makers show the machinists and electronics hobbiest how to solder. Maybe even organized events to deliberately encourage cross pollination like that. Not just for gender equity reasons, but because it's the best way to serve the purposes of the maker space anyway, getting people excited about what they can do, and making it possible to do things together that they couldn't have separately.
Beyond that, I think a large part is the supervision. If you have good staff on hand who make clear than any sort of harassment is a quick way to get kicked out, that will be a substantial help.
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