This page lists patterns and anti-patterns that you may want to incorporate/avoid when creating a feminist hackerspace.
- 1 Patterns
- 1.1 Borders
- 1.2 Safe neighborhood
- 1.3 Transit
- 1.4 Accessibility
- 1.5 Women-only
- 1.6 Women and friends
- 1.7 Crowd funding
- 1.8 Fiscal sponsorship
- 1.9 Community assets
- 1.10 Leave the space clean
- 1.11 Pseudonymity
- 1.12 Make rules explicit
- 1.13 Enforced anti-harassment policy
- 1.14 It's okay to not be friends with everyone
- 1.15 Base assumptions and points of unity
- 2 Anti-patterns
For general hackerspace design patterns, see the Hackerspaces.org design patterns.
Feminism acknowledges structural oppression exists in society now. Creating a space with less oppression requires borders between the space and society at large. Access to the community - both its physical space and online community - needs to be controlled.
Physical security: multiple levels of physical security are good. Don't have a door that opens directly to the street.
"Safe" can be a racist and classist evaluation of a neighborhood where many people work and live. It is a better pattern to become familiar with a neighborhood than to think of some neighborhoods as "safe" and some not. It is also important to consider who you are speaking about a neighborhood as being "safe" for. In short it is very misleading term.
For visiting neighborhoods unfamiliar to you, use crime maps to evaluate activity patterns. Narcotics arrests are a good proxy for street harassment of women. Public transit corridors may have a high volume of night time arrests but give the protection of many people being around at night.
Public transit, parking, bike lanes and parking, and walking.
Elevator, bathroom. Full ADA accessibility is not always easy to find at a price you can afford but often you can get pretty close by negotiating with the landlord for extra keys, small remodels, etc.
Design your space and events so that it can be negotiated by a person in a wheelchair. It is good to design for furniture to be moveable and people's personal belongings to be up off the floor.
Here are some thoughts on accessibility of various kinds, not limited to physical access and wheelchairs: http://www.wiscon.info/access.php
Only women can be members of the hackerspace. People of other genders and ages may or may not be welcome as guests.
It is often difficult to create and sustain a women-centered organization when people of other genders are included, in particular because many of us are socialized from birth to pay more attention to and value (white) men's voices over everyone else's.
Often geeky women have little experience with women-only spaces that are welcoming for them and assume a women-only space would be similarly uncomfortable. This may be in part because it is difficult to experience an in-person women-only group of women with similar interests if you are geeky due to the low density of geek women in many geographical areas. It can be more difficult to fund a women-only space, particularly if few of your members work in the technology field, due to women tending to be paid less than men.
Women and friends
The space is designed as women-centered, but people of all genders are welcome as members. The space leadership (board and officers) should be mostly or entirely women.
Successful campaigns launch on a Monday or Tuesday.
Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement where your organization gains 501c3 status via the fiscal sponsor in exchange for a percentage of the donations that are routed through the fiscal sponsor (usually 7-10%). Ask around for recommendations--not all fiscal sponsors are good partners, and some cannot offer sufficient financial transparency.
If you are a non-profit, philanthropic corporations such as Microsoft may match individual donations made by their employees. Some corporations may be willing to commit to matching donations from the general public under certain conditions (eg "up to $2000 of donations made today").
From the very beginning, don't put community infrastructure on personal computer accounts. Share passwords between at least 3 people and set account emails (eg, Twitter's email for you, your webhost's email for you) to go to a group of people.
Leave the space clean
Establish strong community norms of always cleaning up after yourselves before leaving the space. Exceptions for long-running projects need to be made clearly and with specific rules. The space should make cleaning intuitive: clearly labeled trash, recycling, dish storage, where to wash.
Clutter is an accessiblity issue.
Make rules explicit
Enforced anti-harassment policy
It's okay to not be friends with everyone
Base assumptions and points of unity
At the outset, define values you can assume other members strive for and specify what isn't ok. It is best to do this even before a public call for members and volunteers.
Trust is not always transitive. Your nice friend or co-worker who you know is being ironic or has a particular behavior quirk can be someone else's somewhat creepy stranger. Friends of friends can't get an automatic pass to a hackerspace; their behavior has to stand well on its own.
Everyone help me start!
A hackerspace that opens a public call for volunteers early risks getting caught up in extensive fighting about ground rules, such as whether to identify the space as feminist, whether to be women-members-only or not, or what basic policies to have in place.
Settle basic non-negotiable properties of the community in a small aligned founders group before opening public calls for volunteers. When making public calls for volunteers or members, advertise your non-negotiable ground rules.