I received the new issue of Wired Magazine over the weekend. This issue’s cover article is on the Maker Movement, which is a slightly ratcheted up version of the Back-to-the-Land, Do-It-Yourself movements in that there’s more digital tech involved.
One feature article in the magazine is an interview between Chris Anderson, Wired’s Editor-in-Chief, and Limor Fried, a leader in the Maker Movement and founder of Adafruit Industries, which provides electronics for Makers. (The article is not yet available online, but Adafruit’s About page shows the cover of the mag with Limor on it.)
As I read the article, which has Chris asking Limor about her insights into the Maker Movement, I kept saying to myself, “Don’t ask the woman question. Please, don’t ask the woman question.” You know, the woman question: “What’s it like to be a woman in this male-dominated field?”
I’m sick to death of the woman question. While it may have been an appropriate and much-needed question ten-to-twenty years ago, in my estimation it now comes across as having the opposite effect than is intended. When I hear the woman question, I think, jeez, do we have to keep pointing out a woman’s gender as though it’s germane to the job? As though she should feel privileged to even be there? As though she still isn’t talented enough to simply belong? The woman question continues to put women in their place – a place that concentrates on gender rather than common humanity, skills, and quality of thought.
I’m happy to report that Chris never asked Limor the woman question during the interview. Limor’s thoughts on the Maker Movement stand as they ought to – as the musings of a person who knows her stuff and is happy to share it with others in the field. Bravo! Limor is a Maker.
Incidentally, the man question is also wearing on me, the man question being, “What’s it like to be a stay-at-home dad?” The implication of this is the same as that of the woman question – that a guy does not belong in this setting. Oh, please, people! If a guy wants to nurture his little nubbins, why not let him do so without the societal disbelief?