Solder and Wire or Needle and Thread: Examining the Effects of Electronic Textile Construction Kits on Girls' Attitudes Towards Computing and Arts

Davis, R. L., Proctor, C., Friend, M., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Kay, J., & Luckin, R. (Eds.). Solder and wire or needle and thread: examining the effects of electronic textile construction kits on girls' attitudes towards computing and arts. Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age. Making the Learning Sciences Count (pp. 800–807). International Society of the Learning Sciences.

The gender gap in computing has persisted—and grown—over the past 40 years. Prior work has identified a number of contributing factors for the persistence of the divide, including environmental cues, software themes, and course content. More recently, the design of software and hardware tools have been investigated as potentially contributing to the gender gap, and a new class of tools designed with gender in mind have risen to prominence. This study compared one such tool—the Adafruit Flora, an electronic textiles platform—to a comparable platform that was not designed with gender in mind—the Arduino Leonardo. While there were some shifts in self-identification, the most notable result was that the participants’ views of computing and arts became less stereotyped. However, there was no meaningful difference between workshops in this regard. Our results indicate that the relationship between e-textiles and gender may be more complicated than previously thought.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{davis_solder_2018,
    author = "Davis, Richard Lee and Proctor, Chris and Friend, Michelle and Blikstein, Paulo",
    editor = "Kay, Judy and Luckin, Rosemary",
    location = "London, {UK}",
    title = "Solder and Wire or Needle and Thread: Examining the Effects of Electronic Textile Construction Kits on Girls' Attitudes Towards Computing and Arts",
    volume = "3",
    abstract = "The gender gap in computing has persisted—and grown—over the past 40 years. Prior work has identified a number of contributing factors for the persistence of the divide, including environmental cues, software themes, and course content. More recently, the design of software and hardware tools have been investigated as potentially contributing to the gender gap, and a new class of tools designed with gender in mind have risen to prominence. This study compared one such tool—the Adafruit Flora, an electronic textiles platform—to a comparable platform that was not designed with gender in mind—the Arduino Leonardo. While there were some shifts in self-identification, the most notable result was that the participants’ views of computing and arts became less stereotyped. However, there was no meaningful difference between workshops in this regard. Our results indicate that the relationship between e-textiles and gender may be more complicated than previously thought.",
    eventtitle = "Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference for the Learning Sciences – {ICLS} 2018",
    pages = "800--807",
    booktitle = "Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age. Making the Learning Sciences Count",
    publisher = "International Society of the Learning Sciences",
    year = "2018",
    url = "http://chrisproctor.net/publications/davis\_solder\_2018",
    pdf = "http://chrisproctor.net/media/publications/davis\_solder\_2018.pdf"
}

And if it's useful to you, I'd love to hear your thoughts!