[Noisebridge-discuss] Girls Hack

Brink Of Complexity brink.0x3f at gmail.com
Wed Oct 30 02:58:36 UTC 2013


To be clear, it's awesome that you've volunteered, and that is why it's
especially important to let you know that improperly associating
availability of technical opportunities for girls and young women as a
recent (this decade) historical development is disingenuous -- that the
volunteerism is great, but that an attitude predicated on false information
is more harmful to the cause than helpful.

I posted this to the list because you aren't the first or only person to
voice this idea, and in fact it's a *really common misconception*, which
results in making STEM women invisible "unicorns".

In any case, I didn't make any assumption about you beyond that you are an
adult born between 1970 and 1995 -- a range I'd be willing to bet money on
based on your photo alone. I'm not from a large tech-centered city either,
and it doesn't matter.  And yes, your educational opportunities are very
largely your parents (and later your own) doing.

That latter sentence is really the point. STEM women got their early skills
by playing with engineering toys instead of dolls, by trading easy bake
ovens for space legos, by going to the library and calculating ballistics
and oscillator frequencies while other girls were flirting with boys at the
pool. They got their skills by making and taking every opportunity to
develop those skills, just like boys, often alongside boys...

... And many got ostracized for it the whole way through, mostly by girls
(and others) who rejected or ignored those opportunities in favor of social

... And if you don't realize that part, and then "accidentally" assert the
impossibility of existence of women who've technically educated themselves,
you're contributing to the very exclusion you're complaining of,
specifically to the sharpest young women with the most technical potential,
who will reflexively do the math on that claim!

Claims of unavailability of technical opportunities for young women
diminish the social challenges previous generations of women dealt with and
overcame in order to take all of the *actually totally available*
opportunities that shaped them. It asserts that *today's* women in STEM
fields are inherently less educated than the men because of some kind of
gender divide in technical education opportunities that existed in the
recent past. This just isn't true.

Your intentions seem pretty noble, and I know it seems like a minor and
harmless faux pas, but the effect *really matters socially*, especially if
you're volunteering yourself into a powerfully influential position with
regard to future adults.

Power comes with responsibility. If you volunteer for it, expect criticism.

When I choose to volunteer to help mold the minds of the future with regard
to topics explicitly stated to be outside my experience, please feel free
to criticise accordingly.


On Oct 29, 2013 4:25 PM, "Elizabeth Hubbard" <annie.nutt at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Brink of Complexity, it is so awesome that you had such great educational
opportunities where you grew up.  I'm frankly jealous.  My parents aren't
to blame for me not knowing of any hackathons to go to as a child, and I
don't go around perpetuating stereotypes.  I did a google search on tech
opportunities for kids in my home town.  It came up with a bunch of job
leads for (surprise!) adults.  One for San Francisco came up with tech
camps.  Who'd have known that San Francisco is more technologically
advanced than some rural town in Georgia?  Honestly, that part of Georgia
is impoverished, so it makes sense that they would have less programs.
> Maybe you shouldn't assume so much about people.  You honestly make a
person sorry they volunteered to do something nice for some kids they don't
know.  I don't see you volunteering to chaperone.
> _______________________________________________
> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
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