We received a few questions on why we wanted to collect age, gender, and especially ethnicity data on the 2018 survey. The short answer is that these questions give us a little bit of a better view of who maker groups are serving.
Many of the spaces that responded indicated that they currently do not track this data very accurately. Therefore, the demographics data is from the members and leaders that responded and not a full representation of the community. Our hope is that in 2019 we can more fully represent the demographics in spaces with more responses across the communities nationally and within a space.
Let’s first take a look at the gender balance of makerspaces.
This shows us that women are a pretty significant minority in these spaces – less than 1/3 of makerspace members and leaders are not men. This isn’t all that surprising when you consider that in our culture, skilled trades and engineering are male-dominated. Additionally, perhaps women don’t have as much time to visit these spaces or they are less interested than their male counterparts in what makerspaces offer.
They might prefer doing other types of making than responses received or they may have the resources to do these things outside of a makerspace. They may just prefer to make on their own. They may not like the social aspects of makerspaces. They could be there but it could be they didn’t want to take our survey. We would have to do more research to truly understand the subject. Maybe even more focus on getting more breadth and coverage of responses across the full maker community in our 2019 Survey of Makerspaces. (And we hope that if it is your passion to do that research, we can help you with that.)
Whatever the reason, it is important for makerspace leaders and members to foster a culture where individuals of all genders feel comfortable and welcomed.
Age and Gender.
Men who took our survey are more likely to be involved in a makerspace if they’re at ages 30-49. Women skewed slightly younger. It is encouraging that the age distribution of makerspaces spreads across all age ranges.
Now, let’s take a look at ethnicity.
Makerspace members and leaders that took our survey are overwhelmingly Caucasian.
As far as the survey goes, it is quite possible that in our first year we missed a lot of people. People who are non-native English speakers may have barriers to taking a survey that is admittedly a little long, complicated and not in their language. It matters to us to reach these individuals. Again, there are many reasons why we may not have reached minority individuals in these spaces. We are working on doing better to maximize our reach to all makers for 2019. Of course, it could also be that makerspaces are just not all that diverse.
Our goal is to see who makerspaces serve and to track this over time. If makerspaces aren’t actually all that diverse, knowing this can allow Nation of Makers to realize we need to prioritize finding ways to partner with organizations interested in providing opportunity to underserved groups.
What is interesting is that the inclusivity and diversity results from 2019 indicate that the survey respondents of all backgrounds felt that their spaces were overall very inclusive. (We are going to talk about that in a future article.)
That speaks very highly to the maker community and ethos.
Here is a PDF that contains the information in this article.