Women’s Work

Prototype’s feminist incubator for social impact.


8 weeks

Author • Illustrator • Researcher • Designer

Techniques + Tools
Wacom Intuos Tablet • Carnegie Mellon Swiss Poster Collection



The mission of Prototype PGH is to build racial and gender equity in tech and entrepreneurship. In 2019 we are embarking on a new way to do this by incubating 5 women owned companies. Each company has a desk and equipment storage at Prototype, personalized mentorship from our board of directors and advisors, and access to our workshops, tools, and equipment.


  • Support 10 MWDBE Businesses

  • Foster entrepreneurial spirit

  • Diversify economy through business retention


  • Provide Goal-driven Mentorship

  • Connect Subject Matter Expert Resources

  • Create New Business Standards


Problem space

How might I craft a publication that introduces design thinking, and its criticisms, to an aspiring audience of designers? What metaphor or experiment might be conducted to illuminate the boundaries of the current design thinking conversation?


When Gatz and Larson started Prototype, they had a lot of the same questions that the companies in the incubator do, from branding to deciding what type of business entity to create. Now, they can share what they learned through the incubator, Larson said.

To assemble the cohort, Larson said she and Gatz and focused on candidates within Prototype’s membership, but accepted external applications, too. The cohort was selected from roughly a dozen applicants.

The feminist maker space in Oakland opened in 2016 and now has 150 members. It offers workshops that range from 3D modeling to salary negotiation. The goal was always to be more than a maker space and to help entrepreneurs as they start and grow their companies, said founders Erin Gatz and E. Louise Larson, who are also Who’s Next honorees.

To help businesses take their next steps, Prototype launched its first incubator last month with a cohort of five women-owned businesses.

program structure


The year-long program offers a mix of workshops, co-working space and mentorship, Gatz and Larson said. The first of four quarterly workshops was in January and focused on goal mapping. Future sessions will cover how to set up a business entity, marketing and branding, and how to overcome imposter syndrome. The entrepreneurs will also meet regularly with mentors and other members of the cohort.

The program will wrap up with a “hatch event” in November, when cohort members will present their companies and network to find the next steps and additional resources in the community. They’ll also become mentors for the 2020 cohort, Gatz said.


Mentors are the glue that holds Women’s Work together. They are the folks who are willing to share their own time and expertise with the participants. Mentors also serve as the main point of contact for WW participants. We ask that all mentors are prepared for the following responsibilities:

  • 1 hour face-to-face meeting every month with WW mentee

  • Attend at least 3 (out of 12) workshops/cohort meetings

  • Attend Hatching event in November

  • Answer email and texts throughout program

  • Connect WW mentee to best possible resources