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HackerMoms: A Hacker Space for Bay Area Mothers

Susan Freinkel | July 22, 2012 | Lifestyle Story City Life Tech World

The DIY gene isn’t gender specific, but the DIY temples known as hacker spaces usually seem to be—in the predictable way. “A lot of times, people assume you’re there because your husband or your boyfriend is,” says Lisha Sterling, a website builder who’s visited many a hacker space. More than once, Sterling says, some male hacker decided she was clueless because she had a pink laptop case. So imagine how thrilled she was to discover Mothership HackerMoms.

Like Noisebridge in San Francisco or Ace Monster Toys in Oakland, Berkeley’s HackerMoms provides those with a yen to make stuff with a place to share tools, expertise, and projects—but without the testosterone and with a safe place to bring the kids. (There’s a paid babysitter onsite twice a week.) But the point isn’t to discuss poop or how to get your kid to nap. “You get the tattooed, pierced crowd that doesn’t want to be a part of other moms’ groups,” says founder and freelance copywriter Sho-sho Smith.

That said, many activities do have a distinctively feminine cast. “We’ve had coding and Drupal workshops,” says Smith, “but we’ve found that they need to be balanced by craft, art, and design.” You’ll find more people doing woodworking, printmaking, and photography than soldering motherboards or building robots. Then again, the action will likely change as the group expands. “When we have the room for a table saw, trust me, there will be a table saw,” says Sterling.

Meanwhile, to raise money for equipment, she and Smith jokingly suggest offering a class for the members of Ace Monster Toys, which is just around the corner. Says Smith: “We’d do a workshop for all these single men— ‘How to Get Laid’—and charge $1,000.”


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