Project funded by Division of Engineering Education and Center (EEC)
Some have hailed the emergence of maker spaces as an opportunity to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, engaging participants in open, creative, and supportive spaces for learning and applying practical STEM knowledge. Others have questioned the potential of these spaces, as many maker and hacker spaces seem to be enacting norms that are more conducive to participation of white, male, middle-class, able-bodied hobbyists. So while there are maker spaces noted for their engagement of homeless makers, women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ folks and people with disabilities, there are many more maker spaces that intentionally or unintentionally exclude these populations. This project considers how diverse maker spaces are conceived, constructed and operated to actively involve groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, and collectively identify practices that can inform the design and operation of campus and community maker or hacker spaces that presently struggle to achieve diversity.
In 2018, we report an update on the project’s data collection and the June 2018 unconference where we will bring all our partners together.
This Participatory Action Research (PAR) employs ethnographic methods and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to characterize spaces in terms of their physical and linguistic artifacts. Here we report an update on our preliminary results shared last year, including information related to our direct observation and participation in events held at diverse makerspaces across the U.S.
Research questions explored through this project include:
(1) What practices and artifacts do participants in diverse maker and hacker spaces employ to establish and maintain environments that are diverse and inclusive?
(2) What does the discourse in diverse maker and hacker spaces reveal about how meaning and value are co-constructed around identity, creativity, and the culture of production / the production of culture in engineering?
(3) What best practices emerge from diverse maker and hacker spaces, and how can these translate to design or transformation of existing maker spaces on campuses and in communities?
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