When four experts on the “do-it-yourself economy” gathered at Montclair State on Sept. 30, the event included a discussion on the impact of gender on the maker and DIY communities.
The Grommet’s co-founder and CEO, Jules Pieri, said the success of women in crowd-funding, a grass-roots method of raising money for a venture, is one of the most optimistic things she has seen in the maker movement. Pieri said women are behind 47 percent of the successful projects that are crowd-funded.
“They’re acting on it,” Pieri said about women, adding she has not seen as many barriers nor lack of participation in the maker area as she has in other tech areas.
The discussion was part of a Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup event presented by the university’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship. About 225 people attended. NPR’s Marketplace Morning Host David Brancaccio was the keynote speaker and then moderator for a panel that included Pieri, Jeff Wald, co-founder and COO of Work Market, and Marc de Vinck, professor Practice in Creativity at Lehigh University.
“It’s a very open community,” said de Vinck about the maker arena. He noted that in the DIY economy, it’s all about what you make, not who you are.
“It really takes that gender bias out,” de Vinck said. “I don’t really care if you’re male or female…it’s what you make.”
Wald said that gender becomes irrelevant at his company, which pairs contract workers with high-level assignments at companies. Work Market uses an algorithm where employers rate how a freelancer did on an assignment, and that measure—not gender—becomes key in landing future work.
The panel was also asked what a professor could teach students about how to be good makers in the DIY economy.
Pieri said it is important for makers to assess a market before quitting a job or investing money.
Wald, who said he was answering about entrepreneurs instead of makers, said adaptability is key.
De Vinck talked about the importance of creativity. “We’re all born creative and somewhere along the line we lose that creativity, and you can’t be innovative without creativity.”
View photos shot by university photographer Mike Peters.