Makerspace – Gender and “Ability”

Coincidentally, I was given two different assignments in two different classes and they merged:

Caleb was showing a friend’s makerspace and Will asked us to take on a theoretical instructional design project incorporating makerspace using the Dick and Carey model.

Jaymes Dec at the Marymount School for Girls in New York City:

This was the theoretical:

“For this case, small school (K-12 or higher ed – you decide). 25 teachers (1 of which is an Ed Tech Specialist), 8 admin, 250 students. Admin wants to use a tech grant to jump on adopting this VR technology into the school’s makerspace. The problem is, the makerspace has not been well defined and is lightly used. There is no real ownership. Additionally, admin wants to make sure this device is not just a novelty. They believe that if it was used properly, students would be able to effective use the device to improve their writing, math and science skills. Your charge is to develop an implementation plan for your school that captures your administration’s excitement about VR and its relevance in education.”

Adding to the coincidence is that I’ve been thinking about gender issues in the tech ed arena again, and wonder if we, as a group working on the case study, should have added anything to explicitly address issues related to inequality in tech. In the video above Caleb’s friend, Jaymes Dec, made a point about the students in one winning project saying, “They’re great kids, but academically…” which is also a type of bias that teachers in the tech ed need to stay aware of. It’s unclear what his thinking was completely, but essentially I believe his point is that makerspaces should be open and welcoming in every way possible.

Beyond creating a level playing for all genders in technology education and business is also the issue of neurodiversity and what people with talent and challenge bring to the digital and maker world and how to do that in equitable and encouraging fashion. There seems to be so much room for so many different types of people in this space and as an educator its becoming increasingly clear how important it is for me to explore these issues more deeply and not wonder whether I should be inclusive after the fact.

One thought on “Makerspace – Gender and “Ability”

  1. Will Bohmann

    I’ve noticed in my school’s makerspace there is a good mix of tech and non-tech resources. Students love the button making and vinyl lettering. Some students take to 3d printer while others are doing sewing and bead work. It’s a good mix of male and female students. Mostly the latter. I’ve found with the arduino stuff, kids are intimidated on their own, but regardless of gender and with instruction, students like those gadgets too. I think the benefit of the makerspace is a place to unwind, decompress, conceptualize, communicate and to make ideas happen. I think of the space as an incubator of ideas and I support your thought of making it equitable for everyone.


Leave a Reply