The information on this page is no longer up-to-date, and is retained for historical reference only. Please visit http://edmontonbikes.ca/ for our current website and information.
The information on this page is no longer up-to-date, and is retained for historical reference only. Please visit http://edmontonbikes.ca/ for our current website and information.

Women & Trans Only Days at BikeWorks

In an effort to make our space more inviting and inclusive, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays of each month are reserved for women and transgender persons. During these days, the shop is operated only by women and transgender persons (volunteers or staff).

It is of the greatest importance that all people be welcomed and supported at BikeWorks.  BikeWorks should be a safe place for anyone to visit regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, language, or ability.  EBC actively addresses any behaviour that is disrespectful towards any shop user.  All shop visitors, volunteers, staff and board members must treat all other shop users respectfully and in a professional manner.

If you do not identify as a women or transgender individual, you are not permitted at BikeWorks on these days; no exceptions will be made for any reason (this includes patrons, volunteers, staff, board members, etc.)

The purpose of our Women & Trans Only Day is to create a safe, welcoming space for learning, socializing and fixing bikes.  Women and transgender people are severely under-represented as cyclists and in the world of bike repair; most studies suggest a 3:1 ratio of male to female cyclists (example here).  In addition, mechanical repair has traditionally been a male-dominated field.  Women may feel hesitant entering a male-dominated space or learning about a craft traditionally dominated by men.  Even today, most bike repair shops are often made up entirely of male mechanics and often women are treated differently, in either subtle or not-so-subtle ways. Differences in treatment could include:

  • male mechanics assuming that women need more help than men and focusing their time with them
  • mechanics failing to explain the nature of technical problems to women (making the assumption that women won’t understand or are not interested)
  • comments about a woman’s appearance

Women & Trans Days help bring more women and transgender persons into our shop, which helps EBC to train & recruit non-male mechanics for all other shop days, making those days more welcoming as well.

If you are not a woman or transgendered, you can support this important initiative by:

  • respecting the space and not entering during Women & Trans day
  • educating yourself to the types of oppression (both obvious and subtle) that women and transgender people may experience at BikeWorks
  • being cognizant of how your actions can affect others
  • talking to others about the issues behind women and trans day

Sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination can be obvious or subtle, neither of which are acceptable. The offending person may not even realize that his/her behavior is inappropriate.  All shop users are resonsible for helping to make BikeWorks an inclusive space.  On any day, volunteers can help to combat discrimination at BikeWorks by:

  • welcoming all patrons to BikeWorks
  • helping all patrons equally, being conscious of who you help, for how long and why
  • letting everyone develop their own skills, and assist only if a task is too difficult for the member
  • offering assistance in a respectful way if a patron looks confused or uncomfortable
  • respecting personal space (do not touch shop users you do not know personally)

If you encounter discrimination or behaviour that makes you uncomfortable:

  • respectfully intervene if you are comfortable doing so by telling the person that you feel they are being disrespectful and would like them to stop
  • regardless of if you intervene or not, report the incident, including the date, time and those involved to the BikeWorks Coordinators, or, if you’d prefer, any member of the board of directors


Frequently Asked Questions from our friends at Bike Saviours in Tempe, AZ:

Q: Why do women need a separate night to work on bikes? Don’t women already receive equal treatment because of suffrage, civil rights, etc?
A:
I founded the shop that I work at over 2 years ago, and I still have people (both men AND women) double check something I have told them with a male mechanic, or ask if they can talk to a mechanic when they are already talking to me.  I have also had men interrupt me while I am explaining something, hit on me or unload all of their emotional problems on me while we are trying to fix their bike, or take a tool out of my hand. These things have never happened to me at Women’s Night!

Q: Isn’t separating a group of people based on race, gender, class, etc. called segregation, which is a bad thing?
A:
Think of society like a big ladder, with the people who control resources, labor, money, politics, etc. (people with power) at the top and the people with no power at the bottom. People with some power are in the middle. Men are higher up on this ladder than women (see government and income as examples in first world societies, women’s health in third world societies). When a group that is higher on the ladder tells a group that is lower on the ladder to go away, that is called segregation.  When a group that is lower on the ladder tells a group above them to go away, that is called “organizing.” When and ONLY when a group has the initiative to organize can they gain power by helping each other.

Q: What about a night for gay men, or people of color, or children? Aren’t there other oppressed groups besides women?
A:
Good idea! In fact, any group that wants to run a program is more than welcome to do so in our shop, as long as it is consistent with our mission statement and principles of equality, and one of our staff members is willing and able to sponsor it.

Q: What if someone is transgender and male bodied, or male bodied but otherwise identifies as female, or identifies as female only some of the time, or is female-bodied but identifies as male, etc etc etc?
A:
We simply call our program “Women’s Night” in order to avoid isolating any people who may not fit a traditional definition of the word “woman” but as long as someone relates to the experience of being a woman on a daily basis and is being genuine, they are welcome to use our shop during women’s night.  And no, you cannot come if you are man wearing a wig/dress, and we are tired of that joke. We won’t even fake a laugh.

Q: I am a man. Can I just come by and fill up my tires really fast?
A: I frequently have men ask me if they can “just” come change their tube or put air in their tires during women’s shop hours. They get offended when I say no or think that I should do them a favor. Let me explain it this way: when someone comes to women’s night, they are not expecting men to be there. Even if you are just changing your tube, you are using the shop and anyone who comes in will see you using the shop. And no, you are not the only person who asked me if you could be the exception that day!

Some additional thoughts on this:
1) sending a woman to do something for you on women’s night is completely unacceptable because you are using a woman to meet your needs at her expense. it is doubly disrespectful of both that individual woman and the group of women running the program. 
2) if women’s night did not exist, men still wouldn’t be able to use the shop that night because it would be closed. So just pretend it’s closed.

Q: During our regular shop hours we default to the guy who knows the most about bikes when we have a question. How can we have open shop hours without him?
A: In any group of people, there will be one person who knows the most. In the world of bike shops, that person is often a man because of the years of experience that women missed out on when they weren’t allowed/socially accepted as mechanics. When you form a new group of people (all women), there will inevitably be one person who knows the most about bikes, only this time it will be a woman. My point is that the man who knows everything does not actually know everything, it only seems that way relatively. Get a manual, the internet, some tools, and start wrenching. Soon YOU will be the “person who knows everything.”

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