Via Intel Newsroom.
A new global report produced by Intel Corporation indicates that girls and women involved with “making,” designing and creating things with electronic tools, may build stronger interest and skills in computer science and engineering – which could potentially reduce the growing gender gap in these fields.
With 16 million makers in the United States alone, the maker movement – a wave of tech-inspired, do-it-yourself innovation – is extensive and rapidly expanding. Unfortunately, so is the gender gap in computer science and engineering graduates. Intel’s report, “MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating and Inventing,” explores how maker activities can serve as a gateway to computer science and engineering for girls and women, and it identifies ways to better engage girls and women in making in order to increase female representation in these fields.
“Intel believes that making brings ideas to life and spurs innovation, and we want to ensure that girls and women take part in this movement,” said Aysegul Ildeniz, vice president of the New Devices Group and general manager of Strategy and Business Development at Intel. “This report provides key insights on how to better engage girls and women in computer science and engineering and help them access opportunities to invent and create the future.”
The “MakeHers” report, created in consultation with experts including the Girl Scouts* and the Maker Education Initiative*, reflects Intel’s commitment to increase access to and interest in computer science and engineering, especially among girls, women and underrepresented minorities.
“With its groundbreaking new report, Intel is demonstrating how the maker movement has helped turn a generation of tech-savvy girls – nearly all of whom grew up in the digital age – into the leaders and entrepreneurs of the economy of tomorrow,” said Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Key global findings1 from Intel’s “MakeHers” report include:
In the U.S., Making Is Already Popular with Tweens and Teens – Both Girls and Boys
- Girls and boys in the United States are equally likely to be “tech makers”: 1 in 4 tweens and teens have made things with technology during the past year, and 7 in 10 would like to learn to make something with electronics.
Making and Inventing Provides Multiple Entry Points to Engage and Interest Girls and Women in Computer Science and Engineering
- Girls and women who make, design and create things with electronic tools may build stronger interest and skills in computer science and engineering.
- Female makers come to making through multiple pathways that include arts, design, crafting and textiles.
- Making can help girls and women learn new content and technologies and provide an avenue for them to engage in scientific and engineering problems that align with their interests.
Girls and Women Face Constraints to Participating in Making
- Female and male makers face similar challenges to making, such as lack of money, information and access to tools and materials. However, female makers experience additional challenges:
- 1 in 3 female makers say lack of mentorship is a challenge.
- 1 in 6 have been excluded from making because of their gender.
- 1 in 6 face cultural biases about the appropriateness of women in making.
- 1 in 14 don’t feel safe going to the places where maker activities are held.
Key Recommendations to Engage Girls and Women in Making
- Build more girls- and women-inclusive maker environments in public places, such as libraries and schools.
- Design makerspaces that enable open-ended investigation of projects meaningful to girls and women.
- Develop initiatives that give girls more access to makers their own age and female mentors.
- Encourage parents to “embrace the mess” and engage in making with their children.
- Align making activities, such as coding and making hardware, with current trends and personal interests to attract girls.
- Include facilitators in makerspaces to create a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for girls and women.
The report’s findings were drawn from three online surveys2 conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Intel. Intel also conducted interviews with leading U.S. experts on STEM, girls and STEM, and the maker movement, as well as interviews and participant observation in makerspaces in the United States.