Updates to the page about how becoming a member works

We updated the page about how membership works! Now it includes more information about the application process and decision making at Double Union.

This was an update long overdue, and we’re sorry it took a blog post pointing the issues out to get it fixed. Language is important, and we’re sorry we didn’t say it well at first. Here are some of the parts we (hopefully) made better:

New members join through an application and voting process. If you’re very interested in being part of Double Union but aren’t sure whether you’re “good enough,” please apply. Don’t let impostor syndrome stop you!

Before, we used the words “good fit” in the sentence where we were trying to encourage folks to apply even if they were having impostor syndrome. That’s a poor word choice though, because “good fit” is pretty close to “culture fit” which has a ton of baggage around it, such as tech companies full of brogrammers rejecting women applicants because they wouldn’t “fit” into the office’s “culture”.

Also, the outside page didn’t describe the application process itself well enough. In the application, there are spots you can link to your twitter/blog/social etc, and there an essay answers section. (The questions: “Tell us a little about yourself!” “Why are you interested in joining Double Union?” “Tell us about your feminism!” “What would you like to work on in the space?” and “What skills are you most interested in learning, improving, and/or teaching?”)

Before you can get accepted, you also need to met at least one member in person, and based on that interaction, they need to be willing to say you seem like a reasonable potential member. (In the app that powers the applications, we call that sponsoring.) Why an in person meeting? Because it’s hard to get a sense of people over the internets only. This isn’t like the person you meet needs to immediately want to be BFFs with you or anything! What we’re looking for there is basically the sense that you’d respect the base assumptions, the anti-harassment policy (e.g. respect people’s boundaries, take turns speaking, don’t act verbally or physically abusive) and otherwise seem like you’d be able to fulfill the responsibilities of being a member (like cleaning up after your projects, for example).

So we added some clearer language on the outside page about that part:

Along with submitting an application, a qualification for membership is that you’ve met at least one member who is willing to say you seem like a reasonable potential member (such as that you’d respect the base assumptions, anti-harassment policy, and responsibilities of being a member). Please come to events to meet some of us!

The best way that we’ve been able to meet a lot of people over the course of a few weeks has to been to host “open houses” and other events where potential members can come meet people and check out the space. The existing members are trying to get a sense of a LOT of new potential members at once - the first round of applications we had about 20 members who were reviewing 120 applications. This round there are 100 existing members and we closed applications after getting 100 new applicants in 2 weeks.

But group opportunities to meet members (and see the space yourself, if you hadn’t been to an event already!) can feel intimidating. For some applicants, this was the case, and they’d emailed to ask if there was something quieter to attend, which we were happy to accommodate. But if that’s an option, it should be obvious! So we added that to the description on the outside page too:

Or if you’d prefer a quieter opportunity to meet just a couple members over a cup of tea, email join@doubleunion.org and we’ll set this up.

We can’t get around that there is an aspect of “deciding” that is happening here - it is an application process, after all. And, as we have mentioned before, it seems like there’s so much demand for feminist hackerspaces that the Bay Area could support three or four more! Get in touch if you want to start another and DU can help in any way. We also plan to have open-to-the-public events about the logistics of starting more feminist hackerspaces if there is interest. We think it’s very likely some new hackerspaces will spin out of DU itself in coming months/years!

Here are some hackerspace-starting resources we’ve posted in the past:

We also added more information about how decisionmaking is done at Double Union, and how members use the space to the membership page.

The post that brought the problems on the membership page to our attention also included a comment at the end that the author had attended a DU event, and had heard cissexist comments / “humor.” We want to be very clear that this is not acceptable in our community, and clearly violates our code of conduct. Initially, we are working on updating https://www.doubleunion.org/policies to have a longer and more detailed code of conduct and a clear “how to report problems” external facing page. In the longer term, we will be hiring anti-oppression professionals to offer anti-transphobia, anti-racism, and anti-ableism training to our members. We are also working on a project to collect, anonymize and publish diversity data about our membership and structure.

If this post missed something or you have questions or concerns to report, please contact board@doubleunion.org.