How Creativity Encourages Gender Balance

Giving boys and girls an equal sense of belonging in computer and electronics programs requires shattering stereotypes that act as barriers.  Gizmo Garden has tried a number of different ways of disrupting pre-existing paradigms with the 82 students who have participated in our programs to date. 

Our student surveys tell us that being able to express themselves artistically as they create electronic devices is crucial to a gender-balanced sense of belonging.  We've had high schoolers program LED grids on their gizmos to display splashing waterfalls, flapping seagulls and spouting whales.  We've had middle schoolers decorate gizmos around sports themes like golf, bowling, sailing, volleyball, water skiing and basketball.  We've heard gizmos play tunes from Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Bob Marley, George Frideric Handel, Pytor Tchaikovsky and the circus.  We've seen tributes to Star Wars, and Jaws; have encountered dragons, frogs and fish; and have survived fires and volcanoes.

Sights and sounds of artistic expression shatter the stereotypes that have grown up around robotics.  They also give students choices in designing devices that are right for their own personal experience levels and sensibilities, making Gizmo Garden a safe place to create.  We hope that Gizmo Garden Fund will empower others implement their own ideas for creative electronics and coding.

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Girls were three times more likely to want to take computer science when the classroom was non-stereotypical. The alternative classroom didn’t deter the boys. Master & Cheryan of U Washington to the Washington Post, 4/16/16
One possibility is that (tech learning) opportunities are geared toward activities more likely to attract boys… Approaches to increasing the number of students — both male and female — who learn computer science should consider material that signals to both male and female students that they belong and can succeed. Diversity Gaps in Computer Science by Google-Gallup, 2016