Hi All ,
My name is Hanna Benihoud and I am a maker. As a community manager at MakerLabs I noticed a lack of women in our makerspace, and I wanted to do something about it. First, we hosted a Women’s Maker Meetup on January, 31st 2018. Over sixty-five women turned up to the inaugural event, and it was amazing to feel the energy in the room! There was a lot of passion for making, and we began to get a little more understanding of what was holding women back.
Three things stood out:
Number 1: You can’t be what you can’t see.
Walking into workshops and not seeing women around make these spaces intimidating. There is a feeling of all eyes being on you, and that's a lot of pressure when just want to get on with your work. Two things on this point: first, the only way to change that is by continuing to enter these spaces until women become the norm. The second point is that men want women in these spaces too! Every male member within MakerLabs has been supportive and encouraging in our mission. There is enough testosterone in a woodshop already!
Number 2: The fear of getting it wrong.
Women seem less confident in just having a go. This is something I can really sympathize with. We already have to be better to get the same respect as men, so the idea of walking into a male space and doing something badly is not an easy task. I get it. But I’ll let you into a secret…. SO MANY MEN HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING! They just look like they do because it’s a man, holding a saw, he must know what he's doing, right? Wrong! Go into workshops, make mistakes, produce rubbish work, cut stuff up for no reason! It’s all part of the learning and you will get better. Everyone is figuring it out.
Number 3: You have so many ideas you don’t know where to start.
In a place like MakerLabs, the possibilities are endless and that can be overwhelming. My advice would be to pick one gateway project and make yourself accountable. Pick something that is achievable & give yourself a timeline so you actually do it. Perhaps you could make someone a birthday present, or tell the internet your making plans. I want to learn how to use the CNC router and I have approximately 1652 ideas of how to use it. So I have decided to make a sign for the residency program (achievable). I will have it made by the next meet up April 4th (timeline). And I've told you what I’m doing, so now I have to do it (accountable).
To help with the issues above, we've started a residency specifically for women, along with this blog which is dedicated to women who make. Every month, our residents from the Tools For Women residency will contribute to this blog, and our hope is that it will inspire women to make more.
I'm proud to introduce our first four fantastic women: Tierney, Niki, Josephine, and Roxanne.