78. Erin Gatz – Co-founder, Prototype PGH

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I started a feminist maker space as a way to build a comfortable environment for women and feminists of all genders to learn and express themselves.

 
Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.
 
When I go into Prototype in the morning I meet up with our staff person Bryanna to touch base about that week’s workshops. On a given week we might have workshops on laser engraving, 3D printing, CNC vinyl cutting, screen printing, or video editing. After getting caught up on that week’s activities we talk about our plans and goals for the next month and what needs to be done to accomplish everything. Every day is different at Prototype and I never know exactly what to expect.
 
How do you stay passionate in your career?
 
By supporting other people dedicated to building gender and racial equity. Their commitment inspires me to keep doing my work too.
 
Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?
 
I have a master’s degree in sociology but started working in tech through the Remake Learning network when I was trained in basic robotics, coding, and virtual reality. I then started working in maker spaces and learned how to use a lot of the equipment. I couldn’t stop learning. It was such a new world to me.
 

Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?

 
Calendly is definitely my favorite app. I hate back and forth emails about scheduling a meeting!
 
It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?
 
I started a feminist maker space as a way to build a comfortable environment for women and feminists of all genders to learn and express themselves.
 
What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?
 
I love being a role model for my son, so that he can see that women can do anything that he can do.
 
How have you given back to the WIT community?
 
We offer all of our workshops at pay-what-you-can and provide childcare. This is our way of making tech more accessible for women.
 
What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?
 
Find a community that supports your venture into tech! There are people who will doubt your abilities but there are far more people who will cheer you on.
 
Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.
 
In 2018 Prototype PGH won a $50,000 grant from Google and another $50,000 grant from the BNY Mellon Foundation. We hired our first staff person and she is incredible. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without Bryanna.
 
Set some goals. Stay quiet about them. Smash the shit out of them. Clap for your own damn self.
 

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