Wu, who became internet famous in 2015 after she posted her design of an LED underlit skirt to Reddit, has long been targeted by conspiracy theorists who argued that a man must be secretly creating her designs and using her as a model. A widely-shared anonymous blog post, which has since been deleted, claimed that she was “an online persona created by Wu’s boyfriend, who is a seasoned electrical engineer, who has used Wu as the face of his operation.” An internet community even emerged on Reddit made up of people devoted to proving that she was a fake.
“It started from the very first picture that was taken,” said Wu. “I was wearing an Open Source Hardware shirt, and on Reddit they all joked that there was no way the ‘model’ knew what that meant. No one trusted my builds were mine. No man has to prove himself this way. They can take a picture of a finished product and everyone believes them.”
Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE Magazine and so-called father of the Maker movement, doubled down on the conspiracy theories swirling around Wu after she accused him of excluding her and other local tech designers from his Maker Faire in Shenzhen.
“I am questioning who she really is,” he wrote in a tweet on November 5th. “Naomis is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.”
Two days later, Dougherty deleted his accusatory tweets and make a perfunctory apology to Wu. But Wu told Buzzfeed News that the apology did little in the face of an accusation that severely damaged her reputation in China, where Dougherty is widely-known and respected, and may have cost her two jobs.
Over the weekend, Dougherty offered a more sincere apology for contributing to “the marginalization of women and local makers in China,” and promised to feature Wu’s work in his next issue of MAKE, to invite her to the USA Maker Faire in 2018, and to assemble advisory boards to ensure that Maker Faire events represented local communities. This time, Wu accepted his apology.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Wu also offered some advice for other women in the Maker movement to help deal with the men who would otherwise “never give you credit.”
Read the full story at Buzzfeed News.