Building inclusive makerspaces

Hey folks, I’ve finally got round to putting notes online from the building inclusive makerspaces workshop at EMF Camp:

May be useful if you’re thinking of ways to engage a more diverse membership at your space.

If you have any other suggestions or comments then let me know!



Hi Em,

I would love to work with you on this. Give me time to show you what I am doing at Dudley Makerspace to be sure inclusion occurs from day one. I read your notes and what I do not find is warmth. The goal for inclusion is to create a safe, warm and therapeutic non-judgemental space. The vision being set forward in this piece is still very much written along gender-specific and stereotype-specific lines. Certainly, they speak to diversity, but they do not actually create it.
I am working on the model of including a class framework, so all members have the opportunity of learning all the tools they want to learn. Personal certification is key to this. People want skills they can capitalise on, the makerspace is a step for some, a step-up for others. Your goal is retaining them even if they move on to another space most of the time. Your goal is to keep them coming back.
I suggest that you work on figuring out why your white male members cannot work in a space with their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives. If your existing members can’t cope with their own partners in the space, your entire model for inclusion is doomed. Remember the relationship members have with Makerspace leaders is a business relationship. The idea that you will make low-income people trade time working for the makerspace for access!

Have you ever considered offering the cost-plus-volunteering membership to everyone? You should then hire a volunteer manager, an outsider who can just focus on having a process for training your volunteers to get things done and utilise the talent of members who may do repairs. Your goal is to help these low fee members up to the point where they can take the full membership and need not volunteer anymore. You should have a surplus of volunteers, a waiting list. In fact, you could consider that every single new member will need to undergo the lower-fee membership for a full year so that all members going forward are also trained to be volunteers in future, if needed.

We can work together on a common makerspace governance model that could be a great and inexpensive resource for the inclusive reorganisation of existing makerspaces.


The notes are a summary of what was mentioned by participants in the round table discussion at EMF camp, they’re not a framework for inclusion but they can be seen as advice from existing makerspaces about issues they’ve encountered or lessons they’ve learned.

And the first part of the blog post is an overview of a 20-minute presentation so also definitely not intended to be comprehensive! But these are points that stood out from various hacker/makerspaces visits. I’m currently working on in-depth case studies of some established makerspaces that have been successful in engaging a gender diverse membership (my PhD is mostly focused on how makerspaces can support women’s engagement with technology) which will provide some more detailed information on how specific makerspaces have managed this.

It’s great that you’re setting out to create an inclusive space from day one, that’s definitely a key aspect of helping spaces to be welcoming to a range of people.


Thanks Em,
I’ll have read of that tomorrow while I’m on the 4 hour train journey from Doncaster to Reading.

When and where will your research be published?

My thesis will probably be done in 2020, in the meantime anything I publish is open access and I put links on my blog / / Research Gate so all available online.