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Diversity and Inclusion


Diversity and Inclusion

Referenced Page: 
Diversity and Inclusion

What makes a community resilient? Among other things, diversity. Too many spaces are primarily populated by white males. What makes a space open and welcoming to many different people? Consider all the diversities we might measure:

  • Genders
  • Ages
  • Skills/practices
  • Religions and faiths
  • Sexualities

All of these diversities, and more, can lead to a healthy community--and to unique challenges. Let's talk here about what works and what doesn't, and distill our dialogue into the accompanying Book Pages as a permanent reference.


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So far as age, Jigsaw welcomes children along with their caretakers into the space by default - we are explicit about age restriction only when they are present. We also try to bring in many field trips.

With gender diversity, we've found having classes lead by non-cis-men helps a lot. Also having many people around who understand what things like "cis" mean. Read more here:

We also make sure people sign out Safe Space Agreement, and understand what it means.

The biggest thing, I think, is being sure no one is ever mocked for anything. 


"non-cis-men" confuses me. I basically agree with everything else you say - it's basic respect. I also read the link.  Again, basic respect.

I assume you are using "cis-men" to mean typical aggressive male. So, what exactly do you mean by "non-cis-men"? The term is very ambiguous, because it maps onto a wide variety of behavior and personalities.


If you have teachers and mentors who are diverse, more of your membership and attendees see that not just heteronormative men can be in leadership roles. That means people push forward to learn more and teach more. It's known that they will be respected and encouraged to be in a leadership role.

Example: I am female-bodied but genderqueer. If every class I go to at a hackerspace in Seattle is taught by older white dudes, I don't see how I could possibly have anything to contribute - my kind aren't welcome in leadership roles. If I see just about anyone strange at all teaching a class, I see that I would be welcome and appreciated in such a role.

Make a bit more sense? I'm not discluding cis-men as leaders and instructors, only encouraging an explicit effort to mix it up a bit.


First, I mean these comments with full and due respect.

I did a google search for the term "cis-male". Aside from the wikipedia entry which just expands on the concept, defines it as

"A non-transgendered male. A naturally-born man or boy whose psychological gender identity is socially male also.

Clarification: A cis male is not necessarily macho, or even of average masculine persona. A cis male might have some or many characteristics that are feminine, effeminate, or female-like, but unless he seeks to project a female persona, he is still a cis male.
Liberace's sequined robes and feather boas might remind us of a drag queen, but he was still a cis male."
So - while I agree with you that a variety of people is important, I think your use of the term "cis-male" is meaningless. "Older white dudes" is more accurate, though it assumes *straight* older white dudes" - "dudes" being the operative word.
The reason I think the term is meaningless is is because it applies to *all* males who are comfortable with being male. That makes up almost all males - race, ethnicity, orientation, affectation, age, etc become meaningless to the discussion. Your use of the term also excludes a young, flaming, gay, black, drag queen guy who would *never* touch a surfboard.
If you want diversity in the group, including the instructors, leaders, followers, students, members, whatever labels..., then be clear about that. I have no problem with being inclusive, the more the merrier. The qualities I look for are being inquisitive, willing to learn, willing to share, etc. I want folks who want to be involved, not passive. I don't care about the package. I *do* care about respectful behavior. I think we are in full agreement in that.
Also, respectfully, any time someone says "I think that .... should happen", my response is "I hear a volunteer". Applies to me as well, which is why I am trying to make Quelab a great place. One of my interests is finding out what other hackerspaces do in terms of public workshops - ie specific things that have worked. One of my concerns is where the next generation of nerds is coming from, ie getting kids of all sorts involved in technology. At a minimum, kids should learn what tech is around them, so they become better citizens as adults. I want to see a lot more girls involved with tech and making.
STEAM education is an obvious path (to use a current term), and yes, I do think art projects at a hackerspace-sponsored workshop should have a tech connection. Want to join to do art - go for it. A workshop for kids? some tech. How about a workshop for parent/girls (grades 1..3) make a 30-second movie with their toys, followed by popcorn and all movies being shown? They need to make up a simple storyboard, a set from stuff, dialog, and shoot the movie with a webcam. They get a CD/DVD with all of the movies.
Wanna work with me on a grant proposal to get some sets? One per parent/girl set, to take home. Would also help them out - they are cis-females :^) with engineering degrees.
And - based on your "just about anyone strange" criteria - I assume you have two hands. I am the "one-armed bandit". Strange enough, despite being an old white redneck long-haired bearded hippy nerd? I think having two hands is strange - how do you ever decide which hand to use? I would starve to death just trying to decide.



Notes in bullet form from SpaceCamp:

Starting from a community which has this problem already.
Where are you getting members?
Naming groups (tech, hacker, male, etc space) is incredibly important. There's an attachment to a name
Doing cooperative work with artist groups
Have it up on a board, have to look at your diversity numbers every day.
There's pushback to making diversity an explicit goal, feel it should happen organically.
Doesn't happen organically in our culture. When equal priority isn't given to all disciplines and demographics, disparity grows.
Anyone who hasn't dealt with the feeling of discomfort in most spaces think that it's unnecessary. Those who have felt that are dying for this sort of thing.
Getting people to admitting it exists as an issue.
Undervaluing arts, non technical.
Define, Teach, Live, Measure, Reward : the culture you want

Outreach to those communities. Listen to what they want, if they do want to have anything to do with you. If they don't, why?
Teachers, introductory classes.
Hacker Equality
Recruiting staff and board members who are diverse
Important to explicitly invite diverse people.
Spacing classes
Safe Space Agreement gives recourse for discomfort, how to talk to people bluntly
You want to be a member? Ask about membership, safe safe, tools, hours, etc



My notes are the first section and can serve as ideas. The second section is on the diversity breakout.


Structures: Schools
-Governance: State-run and funded, oversight by multiple groups without necessarily common goals (especially in charter schools). Recovery-based, factory model of churning out numbers with no regard for informed and capable citizenship. The only exception is at the school level. Focus is on developing the person: “Educating someone without morals is educating a menace to society.”

-Membership: Forced, coercive, directive rather than creative, focused on the lost student population that has little to no interest in education or innovation (in making or personal development).
-Conflict Resolution: Nil. Suspension and due process, with the intent of following the letter of the law instead of the interest of the population served (at the regulation level). Issues of mating state mandates to circumstantial realities of the unmotivated and disenfranchised. What actually works?

Possibilities for Hacker/Makerspace models (for implementation at the school level):
-MARKETING: In schools, the brand of making is relegated to Shop Class and Home Ec., and in current spaces to the use and development of technology with any arts-based endeavor expected to incorporate tech in order to be considered valid. This makes integration of the other (women, minorities [race, sexuality, gender identity]) incredibly difficult. Creates barrier to truly egalitarian model when population is skewed towards only a few privileged demographics. When the representation is unequal, equal priority is not given to all disciplines (therefore developing further disparity).

-THEREFORE: Brand equitably, not equally. From the inception of a space, actionably and measurably create a set of steps/accountability to ensure equal participation through a model of affirmative action. Possible actions/rules:

  • Membership interviews to join spaces. Purpose: to maintain an intentional community focused on a set of explicitly stated goals. Possible levels of membership: Voting memberships and associate memberships. Trials?
  • Monthly goal setting and accountability to membership in reaching for those goals.
  • Sponsorship and monitoring of visitors.
  • Dunbar’s #.
  • Minimum/maximum numbers of certain demographics in both membership and leadership.
  • Similar model for event topics and disciplines.
  • Safe space agreement in inclusive language.
  • Commitment to cleanliness and order.
  • Clearly defined consequences for violating goals and safe space.
  • Issues with census decisions: underrepresented populations are not heard – decisions should be made based on the proscribed goals.

Breakout Session: Diversity
Inherent Problems:

  • Many spaces are created in communities that already have these problems and continuing them.
  • Presentation of spaces as male-dominated (naming and symbolism, etc.) or because of an inside culture that is indecipherable to the outsider. Example: Satirical name of a meeting such as “Math Porn.” Doesn’t always translate to outsiders as satire and may draw groups that take your meaning at face value (who you DON’T want).
  • Pushback from members of spaces that do not want to take deliberate action, and instead would prefer to let the development of equal priority occur naturally through the community.
  • Arts-based endeavors are not seen as valid hacking if they do not incorporate the popular definition of technology and are marginalized, driving away female members.
  • Part of the problem is pointing to the issue, but getting people to acknowledge the problem is to take ownership of it as their problem as well. Ignoring someone makes their POV and experience illegitimate and invalid.


  • Proactive steps taken as part of organization’s objective.
  • Address people’s fear and mitigate it. Many of the people who are expressing this fear were ostracized before they became a part of these communities and are very upset when they think they are accused of being on the other side of it (Geek Social Fallacies). How?
    • Practice 1: Events that draw mixed crowds. Forced exposure to different people.
    • Practice 2: Focus on the making, not the social factor. Expose the mono-culture of hacking to others.
  • Define culture: 5 steps.
    • Define it.
    • Teach it.
    • Live it.
    • Measure it.
    • Reward it.
  • Add-on to the space kit. ^^^
  • Possible additional options in first set of notes.

Extra Research:

  • Linux how-to as piece of research?
  • Caveman chemistry = perfect example of technology as art and vice versa.


Lindsay, these notes are awesome. We should probably put them into the accompanying notebook page and turn them into guidelines, and discuss them here. Else blog get too long.

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