- Despite the popularity of makerspaces, a new report from Drexel University finds that women are underrepresented in leadership roles, holding just 24% of positions, with 25% fewer girls taking part in makerspace projects in high school, EdSurge reports.
- The report also found gender bias in the way teachers speak of their students, referring to boys as “geek” or “builders” but to girls as just “girls,” and researchers called on educators to be more intentional in how they create and serve up maker projects to all students.
- The best spaces, according to the report, were sustainable maker labs, planned carefully but also giving students more ownership in their work, letting them direct projects of their own choosing.
Gender bias steeps quickly into institutions, and schools are not immune. Yet this is the Petri dish where students are starting to form their own identities, how they view themselves in the world, and how they believe others view them, as well. It’s crucial, then, for gender bias to be at the forefront of educators' and administrators' minds across school curriculum.
Even bias that young women think they may have to deal with, the idea that they may encounter discrimination could dissuade them from choosing certain college majors, according to a 2017 study from the American Educational Research Journal. Whether a major is math or science is not what steers women away. Instead, it’s the “…perceived gender bias against women [that] emerges as the dominant predictor of the gender balance in college majors.”
Maker spaces often occupy an intersection of technology and creative projects — two worlds that were once polarized into gender-specific categories. Today, the blending that’s possible opens the door for all students, whatever gender they are or see themselves as, and educators are well-positioned to focus on keeping these spaces and practices gender-neutral.