I was taking a yoga class a few years ago when I noticed a fellow student
with a circuit diagram tattooed on her forearm. After class, I asked her about it. She told me she was a theater sound
engineer, and the circuit was an op-amp, part of her audio console.
I've been wearing a circuit on my own forearm lately. The first time I wore it on the train, a man sitting near me kept staring at it, and finally complimented me by saying "You look like you got it going on!" I didn't even have it turned on at the time-- just a few LEDs and a battery. It made me think of the woman with the op-amp tattoo. I wondered if displaying it gave her more tech cred.
I, too, would like to wear an op-amp, and a number of other circuits as well. Because apparently I need some tech cred. Because electronics are fun. And because, frankly, it looks cool. So I've been working on methods to knit circuits with all the standard electronic components, in addition to the ever-popular LED.
The lovely thing about these circuits is that they're great conversation starters. People who know electronics want to know how they work. (As do people who don't.) I don't suffer from "invisible woman" syndrome* when I'm wearing them.
Clothing has long been a way to advertise status; for women it's also been a means of displaying "maker" skills, and of building community around the sharing of those skills. I think it's time we use it to create some new "Engineer" archetypes.
So I'm looking for collaborators -- engineering women with tech skills you want to wear on your sleeve (literally). What is your "circuit tattoo"? Would it fit on a cuff? A cardigan? A floor-length gown? You design the circuit board, I'll knit it, and we'll have a Stitch-n-Solder bee to build it. Model your new threads and re-define "what an engineer looks like."
- It'll probably work best if you are also in Chicago.
- The more visible the circuitry, the better.
- Circuits that make sound or light or movement get bonus points.
- So do circuits that give you super powers.
If all this sets your gears a-turning, get in touch and tell me what you want to build.
BTW, If you want to knit your own circuit boards, I'm working on an instructable for that. Stay tuned.
*Sheila Miguez sent me this link to an amazing talk by Naomi Ceder, a programmer who transitioned from male to female. Starting at 19'50", Ceder discusses what the Python programming community is like for women (trans or not). I love her statement that she was
worried about being harassed at PyCon the first time she went to the conference as a
woman, but discovered instead that she was now invisible.