Diversity and the hacker scene

Walter | Posted 2014.01.19 at 2:48 pm | Perma

No matter how you slice it, the hacker scene is not a terrible diverse one. And yes, there are a few hackerspaces that are outliers. By and large there are a few certainties when walking into a hackerspace:

  • LEDs, lots of LEDs
  • Defunct 3D-printers
  • Upper-middle-class white males

Is that a problem? Yes it is, according to the hacker ethic. To quote Richard M. Stallman:

The hacker ethic refers to the feelings of right and wrong, to the ethical ideas this community of people had — that knowledge should be shared with other people who can benefit from it, and that important resources should be utilized rather than wasted.

Unless you define “other people” as upper-middle-class white dudes and the rest of  humanity as non-people, hackerspaces and hacker events clearly fail this ethic merely by their lack of diversity.  Since I am a white upper-middle-class dude myself, I am not terribly likely to figure out the fix for this since I’m quite likely to be part of the problem. Nonetheless this is about sharing a bunch of half-baked, slightly-assorted thoughts on contributing factors to the problem.

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Categories : people  theory