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How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings. Overview on Current Recommendations


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Several biases and thresholds challenge the reach of girls in technology-related activities. For this contribution we collected and structured existing research and good practices on how to reach girls within projects in the field educational robotics, makerspaces, coding and STEM in general. The contribution presents general guidelines for future activities with a potential higher rate of participating girls in makerspace settings.
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Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018
Preliminary version, published here:
Schön S., Rosenova M., Ebner M., Grandl M. (2020). How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace
Settings. Overview on Current Recommendations. In: Moro M., Alimisis D., Iocchi L. (eds) Educational Robotics in
the Context of the Maker Movement. Edurobotics 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 946,
pp. 193-196, Springer, Cham, retrieval via
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
„DOIT – Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world"
Consortium: Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H. (AT, co-ordinator), Stichting Waag Society (NL),
Lappeenranta University of Technology (FI), Zentrum für Soziale Innovation (AT), mediale - Verein für
Medienbildung e.V. (DE), eduCentrum (BE), ZAVOD Kersnikova (SI), Polyhedra d.o.o. (RS), Capital of Children A/S (DK),
University of Zagreb (HR), Institut d'Arquitectura Avançada de Catalunya (FabLab Barcelona, ES), European Social
Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute (LT), and YouthProAktiv (BE)
Duration: 10/2017-09/2020
Grant: H2020-770063 (Call H2020-SC6-CO-CREATION-2017)
Contact (co-ordinator):
Dr. Sandra Schön
Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H.
Disclaimer: This document’s contents are not intended to replace consultation of anyapplicable legal sources or the       
necessary advice of a legal expert, where appropriate. All information in this document is provided "as is" and no
guarantee or warranty is given that the information is fit for any particular purpose. The user, therefore, uses the
information at its sole risk and liability. For the avoidance of all doubts, the European Commission has no liability in
respect of this document, which is merely representing the authors' view.
 
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
Description of the Publication
Preliminary version, published here:
Schön S., Rosenova M., Ebner M., Grandl M. (2020). How to Support Girls’ Participation
at Projects in Makerspace Settings. Overview on Current Recommendations. In: Moro M.,
Alimisis D., Iocchi L. (eds) Educational Robotics in the Context of the Maker Movement.
Edurobotics 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 946, pp.
193-196, Springer, Cham, retrieval via
CC BY 4.0, see
CC BY 4.0 DOIT,, H2020-770063
Publication Date
 
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
Social innovations within makerspace settings for
early entrepreneurial education - The DOIT project
Sandra Schön1, Margarethe Rosenova1, Martin Ebner2 and Maria Grandl2
1 Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft,
Jakob Haringer Strasse 5/III, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
2 Graz University of Technology, Münzgrabenstr. 35a, 8010 Graz, Austria
Several biases and thresholds challenge the reach of girls in technology-related activities. For this contribution we
collected and structured existing research and good practices on how to reach girls within projects in the field
educational robotics, makerspaces, coding and STEM in general. The contribution presents general guidelines for
future activities with a potential higher rate of participating girls in makerspace settings.
1. Introduction
Several biases challenge the work with girls, e.g.: teachers have perceptions that boys are more interested in
technology [1] or that makerspaces are not safe for girls [2]. Catalanian boys from 11 to 13 reach higher self-efficacy    
for doing tasks with computers than girls [3]. Already in the age of kindergarten children, they begin to decide “which
technology and engineering activities and materials are better suited to boys or girls” [4]. These biases - and other
framework conditions - result in the fact, that girls are typically underrepresented in activities from the field of    
educational robotics, makerspaces and coding and that women are underrepresented amongst engineers, scientists, IT
experts and related domain. There are a wide variety of approaches to influence this and to gain higher share of
females, this is amongst others one of the sustainable development goals of the UNESCO [5]. For the authors and
their work fields its important to reach girls within their maker activities: The Horizon 2020 project “DOIT-
Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world“ (2017-2020) co-financed by the European
Union builds upon the consideration that social innovations in makerspace settings allow authentic learning
experiences fostering future entrepreneurial spirit and ambition to co-create a (better) world (see Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) as well takes socio-political aims seriously and
therefore highlights and facilitates diversity (cf. Office for Gender Equality and Equal Opportunity at TU Graz).
2. Research issue
For our future activities we looked for relevant literature that give us advice on how we can reach (more) girls within
our activities within makerspaces as they are currently underrepresented. This includes answers on the following
sub-questions: What do others do to reach girls? What do they recommend? Therefore we collected existing
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
experiences from projects and research (including literature on girls and maker education, girls in makerspaces, girls      
and robotics from the last five years in the ERIC database; 2013-2018).
3. Recommendations from literature and projects
3.1 Approach and overview
For the condensed recommendations we used recommendations building upon research (e.g. [7]) as well as the
experiences collected in the Gender Action Guidelines” of the EU project Phalabs 4.0[8]. Figure 1 gives an overview    
about stages within the project / activity development that need a special awareness concerning gender.
Figure 1. Overview: Guidelines to reach girls in makerspace settings
3.2 The guidelines
The following is a condensed description with further references to the sources.
Gender-sensitive announcement of the activity. Girls tend to get (more) motivated if a title of the event or activity
includes not only what something is, e.g. “Robotics with kids” but to get a sense of value of the activity, e.g. “Robotics
for gardeners” or “Robotics within the book sector”. It is recommended to highlight the value of the activity already in
the title, e.g. the impact to the world [8]. When marketing a measure, it is also helpful to ensure that it is not
advertised to (future) engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. There is evidence to suggest that such professional   
identities are less common among girls [9], especially, if they are from minorities, and can therefore be less        
appealing. Gender-sensitive language and gender-sensitive illustration are known as important to girls [8] which
includes e.g. that girls are shown as active participants in the marketing materials.
Set girls’ quota and low thresholds. If it is planned that children have to be registered for an event, the proportion of
girls may be smaller - at least the participation of boys in technology-related offers is rather supported by (grand)
parents, as experience at the Maker Days has shown [11]. On the other hand, an enrolment procedure and
confirmation of enrolment also allows a quota to be set for girls. Macdonald [8] gives the advice toalways insiston      
the 50:50 schools, if mixed school are partnering (p. 8).
Female tutors and role models. A same-sex role model seems to a strong supporter to help girls to get in touch with
technology. The "Maker Days for Kids" was for example a creative digital workshop that was open for four days in April
2015 for children aged 10 to 14 where 44 percent of the participants were girls (no registration, no selection, no fees,
N=69) [11] [12]. All participants could decide what to do in the open makerspace, including to participate at short        
workshops, e.g. in the devlab area where one female tutor and three males tutors were active. Girls chose more
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
workshops offered by female tutors than boys (31 vs. 24 %, 189 workshop participations in devlab, p. 98) [12]. Role
models are great, especially if they can as well tell stories how they failed or other personal stories [8].
Collaborative prompts and assignments. Girls prefer activities that are collaborative. Collaborative assignments lead
to a higher future interest in STEM-related fields [7, p. 124). Females will prefer activities that are collaborative, that
means that they have a positive outcome for all that are involved - and are not a competition [8]. Practical examples
are available [11].
Gender mainstreaming in project activities. Practically, teachers or tutors can contribute to gender disparities in      
makerspace settings as well [1]. Active gender mainstreaming in maker activities could therefore include gender     
mainstreaming along the whole activity: “If supervising a school group, ensure you spend as much time talking to the
females as talking to the males. Males often demand more of the teacher's attention (often by doing silly things) while
females get on with the task in hand. Females then perceive that they are of less value in STEM as teachers didn’ttalk    
to them very much or ask how they were getting on.” [8] Gender mainstreaming in project activities includes e.g.
considerations such as give girls the same attention as boys, girls should be similarly participating e.g. at     
presentations of group work. It should be noted here that such a conscious - but not compulsive - proposal does not
necessarily meet with public approval [13].
4. Discussion and open issues
There is still need to consolidate, reflect and share experiences and results on how to deal with girls’ participation.
This analysis e.g. ignored diverse backgrounds of culture and educational systems of studies and literature.
Within our own projects we aim to get deeper insights how e.g. design decisions and the availability of female role
models will influence girls’ participation and will establish fitting research. In DOIT, therefore an evaluation of
activities with about 1.000 children in 10 regions all over Europe is planned and available in future. As well we will
promote the girls’ issues in maker education [15].
1. Legewie, J., & DiPrete, T. A. The High School Environment and the Gender Gap in Scienceand Engineering.In:
Sociology of Education, 87(4), 259–280
2. Wittemyer, R. et al. MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and
Inventing. Study by Intel Corporation (2014).
3. Cussó-Calabuig, R., Carrera Farran, X., Bosch-Capblanch, X. Are Boys and Girls Still Digitally Differentiated? The
Case of Catalonian Teenagers. In: Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, v16, pp. 411-435 (2017).
4. Sullivan, A., & Bers, M. U. Girls, boys, and bots: Gender differences in young children’s performance on robotics
and programming tasks. In: Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 15, pp. 145-165
(2016). URL: (2018-07-15).
5. UNESCO. STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA) (project homepage) (2018). URL:
6. Schön, S., Jagrikova, R. & Voigt, C. Social innovations within makerspace settings for early entrepreneurial
education - The DOIT project. In: Proceedings of the EdMedia conference, 25-29th June 2018, Amsterdam, pp.
1716-1725 (2018), URL: (2018-07-15).
Preliminary version - EduRobotics 2018 - How to Support Girls’ Participation at Projects in Makerspace Settings
7. Hyun, T.. Middle School Girls: Perceptions and Experiences with Robotics. ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation,
California State University, Fullerton (2014). URL: (2018-07-15)
8. Macdonald, A. Gender Action Guidelines. Inventory of considerations that must be taken into account during the
development of a workshop for Fab Labs. Phalabs 4.0 - PHotonics enhanced fAB LABS supporting the next revolution
in digitalization (2018). see: (2018-07-15).
9. Tan, E.; Calabrese Barton, A.; Kang, H.; & O’Neill, T. Desiring a career in STEM-related fields: how middle school
girls articulate and negotiate identities-in-practice in science. In: Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50, 10, pp.      
1143-1179 (2013).
10. Kekelis, L.; Ryoo, J. & McLeod, E. Making and Mentors: What It Takes to Make Them Better Together. In:
Afterschool Matters, n.26, pp. 8-17 (2017).
11. Schön, S., Ebner, M., & Reip, I. Kreative digitale Arbeit mit Kindern in einer viertägigen offenen Werkstatt. In:
Medienimpulse, 2016 (1). URL: (2018-07-15).
12. Gappmaier, L.. MakerDays for Kids – Analyse und Konzepterstellung. Ebner, M & Schön, S. (Ed). iTUG Vol. 8. Book
On Demand. Norderstedt (2018). (2018-07-23).
13. Kuhar, R.; Zobec, A. The anti-gender movement in Europe and the educational process in public schools. In: CEPS
Journal 7 (2017) 2, pp. 29-46.
14. Gomoll, A.; Hmelo-Silver, C., Šabanović, S. & Francisco, M.. Dragons, Ladybugs, and Softballs: Girls’ STEM
Engagement with Human-Centered Robotics. In: Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25, 6, pp. 899–914
15. Schön,S.; Ebner,M. & Kumar, S.. The Maker Movement. Implications of new digital gadgets, fabrication tools and      
spaces for creative learning and teaching. In: eLearning Papers, 39, pp. 14-25 (2014), URL:
DOIT has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant
agreement No 770063. The content of this publication does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union.
Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the publication lies entirely with the authors.
The contribution is licensed as follows: CC BY 4.0 DOIT H2020-77006, Sandra Schön,
Christian Voigt and Radovana Jagrikova, full paper for edMedia conference 2018.
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Mass protests across Europe against marriage equality, reproductive rights, gender mainstreaming and sexual education have centralised in the past few years around so-called “gender theory”. This theory is explained as a new threat to the “traditional family” and “natural masculinity and femininity”, as it allegedly aims at cultural revolution: a post-binary gender world. Many of these debates (and concrete actions) are targeted at schools and the educational process. It is believed that “gender theory” is already being taught in schools, which will have detrimental consequences for pupils. Agents of the anti-gender movement claim that children are being sexualised and brainwashed by “gender theory”. Taking this debate as the starting point, we first examine the roots of the term “gender theory” and point to its nature as an “empty signifier”. We then analyse the types of anti-gender actions across Europe that interfere with the educational process in public schools. Finally, we consider the role of parents and their right to intervene (or not) in the educational process. On the basis of the existing rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, we argue that the provision that parents are entitled to educate their children in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs does not mean that teachers in schools should avoid issues that might “morally distress” pupils or their parents, as long as schools avoid indoctrination, and providing the topics (like any other topics) are conveyed in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.
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Prior work demonstrates the importance of introducing young children to programming and engineering content before gender stereotypes are fully developed and ingrained in later years. How-ever, very little research on gender and early childhood technology interventions exist. This pilot study looks at N=45 children in kindergarten through second grade who completed an eight-week robotics and programming curriculum using the KIWI robotics kit. KIWI is a developmentally appropriate robotics construction set specifically designed for use with children ages 4 to 7 years old. Qualitative pre-interviews were administered to determine whether participating children had any gender-biased attitudes toward robotics and other engineering tools prior to using KIWI in their classrooms. Post-tests were administered upon completion of the curriculum to determine if any gender differences in achievement were present. Results showed that young children were beginning to form opinions about which technologies and tools would be better suited for boys and girls. While there were no significant differences between boys and girls on the robotics and simple programming tasks, boys performed significantly better than girls on the advanced programming tasks such as, using repeat loops with sensor parameters. Implications for the design of new technological tools and curriculum that are appealing to boys and girls are discussed.
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Early experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are important for getting youth interested in STEM fields, particularly for girls. Here, we explore how an after-school robotics club can provide informal STEM experiences that inspire students to engage with STEM in the future. Human-centered robotics, with its emphasis on the social aspects of science and technology, may be especially important for bringing girls into the STEM pipeline. Using a problem-based approach, we designed two robotics challenges. We focus here on the more extended second challenge, in which participants were asked to imagine and build a telepresence robot that would allow others to explore their space from a distance. This research follows four girls as they engage with human-centered telepresence robotics design. We constructed case studies of these target participants to explore their different forms of engagement and phases of interest development—considering facets of behavioral, social, cognitive, and conceptual-to-consequential engagement as well as stages of interest ranging from triggered interest to well-developed individual interest. The results demonstrated that opportunities to personalize their robots and feedback from peers and facilitators were important motivators. We found both explicit and vicarious engagement and varied interest phases in our group of four focus participants. This first iteration of our project demonstrated that human-centered robotics is a promising approach to getting girls interested and engaged in STEM practices. As we design future iterations of our robotics club environment, we must consider how to harness multiple forms of leadership and engagement without marginalizing students with different working preferences.
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Die Veranstaltung "Maker Days for Kids" war eine kreative digitale Werkstatt, die im April 2015 vier Tage lang für Kinder von 10 bis 14 Jahren geöffnet hatte. Aufbauend auf einer kurzen Einleitung zur Maker-Bewegung werden das Konzept der Veranstaltung, z. B. die Einführungsworkshops, die Rolle der Peer-TutorInnen, Challenges und Selbstlernmaterialien, sowie Erfahrungen damit vorgestellt. Durch eine detaillierte Erfassung der Anwesenheit, Teilnahme an unterschiedlichen Angeboten und der Nutzung der Infrastruktur ist es zudem möglich, Besonderheiten von SchülerInnen unterschiedlicher Schularten und von Buben und Mädchen genauer zu betrachten. Insgesamt haben 69 Kinder an der Vorbereitung bzw. bei der offenen Werkstatt teilgenommen und dabei u. a. Traumhäuser modelliert und am 3D-Drucker ausgedruckt, Games programmiert oder LED-Lampen in Acrylbildern montiert. Mehr zum Projekt:
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This paper introduces several diverse terms (from FabLabs to Hackerspaces) and gives insights into background, practice and existing experiences from Maker Movement in educational settings amongst all age groups. As a conclusion, the authors present reasons why practitioners and researcher should consider its educational potential. Besides its creative and technological impacts, learning by making is an important component of problem-solving and relating educational content to the real world. Besides this, digital tools for making are not expensive, for example apps for mobile devices or rents for 3D printer (compared with desktops in 1:1 settings). The Maker Movement is seen as an inspiring and creative way to deal with our world, it is aware of ecological challenges and of course, and it is able to develop technological interest and competences casually. Finally, the authors give recommendation for reading for all who got interested in making.
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The underrepresentation of non‐White students and girls in STEM fields is an ongoing problem that is well documented. In K‐12 science education, girls, and especially non‐White girls, often do not identify with science regardless of test scores. In this study, we examine the narrated and embodied identities‐in‐practice of non‐White, middle school girls who articulate future career goals in STEM‐related fields. For these girls who desire an STEM‐related career, we examine the relationships between their narrated and embodied identities‐in‐practice. Drawing on interview and ethnographic data in both school and after school science contexts, we examine how STEM‐career minded middle school girls articulate and negotiate a path for themselves through their narratives and actions. We present four types of relationships between girls' narrated and embodied identities‐in‐practice, each with a representative case study: (1) partial overlaps, (2) significant overlaps, (3) contrasting, and (4) transformative. The implications of these relationships with regard to both hurdles and support structures that are needed to equip and empower girls in pursuit of their STEM trajectories are discussed. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 50: 1143–1179, 2013
Despite the striking reversal of the gender gap in education, women pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees at much lower rates than those of their male peers. This study extends existing explanations for these gender differences and examines the role of the high school context for plans to major in STEM fields. Building on recent gender theories, we argue that widely shared and hegemonic gender beliefs manifest differently across schools so that the gender-specific formation of study plans is shaped by the local environment of high schools. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study, we first show large variations between high schools in the ability to attract students to STEM fields conditional on a large set of pre–high school measures. Schools that are successful in attracting students to these fields reduce the gender gap by 25 percent or more. As a first step toward understanding what matters about schools, we then estimate the effect of two concrete high school ...