Today, Intel launched a report entitled “MakerHers Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing.” I was a proud contributor to the piece and am thrilled to have this work be the start of a larger conversation about broadening participation in making.
Last week, I became an aunt for the first time to a beautiful little girl named Angelina. When I think about the world she will grow up in and the pressures she will face, I sometimes worry. Angelina has a set of very supportive parents and a “Maker Aunt” who will expose her to multiple types of activities and open doors to new opportunities. Regardless of any efforts her family provides, I know that she will be influenced by the “power of pink” in toys, media, clothing and her friends. Yet, thinking of Angelina makes me even more concerned for those girls (and any children) that do not grow up with such a supportive family structure. Many children gain their personal identity from friends, teachers at school, and potentially an afterschool leader or local librarian.
That is why, at Maker Ed, our mission is centered around providing opportunities for ALL youth to engage in meaningful making experiences, both in and out of school. Intel’s report lays out a clear chart for action and the stakeholders necessary to make each action a reality. This isn’t just about parents or schools, but is truly a community effort in line with the grass roots, community-based history of the Maker Movement. In alignment with recommendations from this report, Maker Ed supports the creation of safe environments where youth can imagine, explore, and drive their own learning alongside encouraging mentors. We realize the profound impact that educators, youth-serving organizations, and communities have on the skill-development and life trajectory of underserved youth and strive to provide the resources necessary to create a welcoming climate that values collaboration and varied approaches to learning.
I hope this report is only the start of further attention, research, conversations and most importantly, action, around this important topic. Five years from now, I want to be writing a post celebrating that an equal number of women identify as “engineer” and “developer” as their male counterparts. Until then, Maker Ed will strive for all young people to develop a growth mindset and maintain the findings that showed all youth makers (male or female) respond positively to the statement: “I know that if I work hard enough, I can solve almost any problem that I have.”