Jugaad (Innovation) Lab girls and stem

It is a well known fact that STEM fields are spaces shaped dominantly by men. While in many developed countries, we can see concrete efforts being made to improve women's participation in STEM fields, in India we still lack a strong dialogue on the issue. Furthermore, in Indian context, we need to analyse the root cause of the issue from various angles of gender, class, caste, etc., as ours is society of varied marginalization and privileges. An initial glance at the depth of the issue will highlight that girls from underprivileged families usually don't have any access to technology usage or education, which further leads to their exclusion from higher education in STEM fields. In 2013, FAT conducted a study in 5 government schools catering to low income families and 1 premium private school in Delhi to understand the reasons behind girls from disadvantaged families not taking up STEM subjects in secondary education. This study highlighted that besides economic reasons, gender discrimination and unchallenged gender notions are the primary reasons behind girls not getting into STEM education. Hence, to counter these challenges, FAT decided to start a project to promote STEM education for girls from this background.

Through the Jugaad (Innovation) Lab, we seek to provide a much-needed space for young girls who come from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to ignite their interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) subjects. A lab for girls to continue to spark their imagination and aid their intellectual growth and development; a place where they can tinker, build, break and rebuild stuff to learn through hands on work and experimentation, all the while also learning STEM concepts.

Learning can be fun

To close the gender gap in STEM fields in the long run, FAT believes we need to invest in entry of girls from disadvantaged backgrounds into STEM education and innovation by challenging the multiple biases that they face. If we uncover and understand the various channels of negative feedback regarding STEM studies that schoolgirls receive, it is possible to counter these stimuli.

Building stuff brings a sense of satisfaction and confidence in ones own abilities. This is especially an important way to encourage more girls to opt for STEM careers after school and prevent them from self-elimination from STEM fields because of gendered roles and expectations, systemic discouragement in schools and lack of infrastructure. We have 20 girls between the age of 10 to 15 coming to our lab regularly to learn STEM concepts in a fun and interactive environment while also working on hands on projects. Besides the activities planned within the lab, we take them for many exposure visits to places where they can learn beyond the scope of the lab, organize their interaction with women role models and showcase their work in front of their family members and community to create further enthusiasm about girls learning STEM.

The girls learn about a multitude of things

This is a pilot project through which we hope to learn and establish a working model to promote STEM for girls. We need your support to shape the project and make it successful. We welcome anyone who is willing to work with the girls on a hands-on STEM project. And yes, we still need financial support to see through the pilot project. Donate for the little innovators!

Created By
Tanvi Mishra
Feminist Approach to Technology

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