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.
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.