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Title: Participation pathways for women into university makerspaces
Abstract Background

Engineering education has observed considerable growth in academic makerspaces with initial data indicating significant potential for makerspaces to support learning.


Given gender disparities in engineering as a professional community of practice (CoP) and indications for makerspaces as sites for learning, educational researchers need to forge a better understanding of women's pathways into makerspaces, including the barriers that inhibit and the catalysts that broaden participation.


This study employed qualitative interviews with 20 women students who were identified as makers in order to gain insights into the characteristics of their pathways into university makerspaces.


Using grounded theory development, four major aspects of students' pathways emerged: (1) early forms of apprenticeship through mentors; (2) overcoming and resisting limiting gendered expectations imposed by others in early experiences in unfamiliar makerspace CoPs, resulting in failed articulations of related communities; (3) successful articulations of community grounded in making‐centered coursework and personal passions; and (4) relationships in college that expanded access, leadership, and visibility toward fuller participation in makerspace CoPs.


Educational interventions to broaden women's participation in makerspaces must be multipronged and attend to early childhood experiences, include supportive opportunities for women to participate in making in K‐12 and university curricula, expand definitions of making to legitimize the arts and crafts as part of design, and create apprenticeship opportunities for women to mentor women in makerspaces. We must change the narrative of who makers are, what making is, and who belongs in makerspaces to reduce barriers and create inclusive making communities.

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Award ID(s):
1733708 1733678
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Engineering Education
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 700-717
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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