Monthly Archives: October 2012

Research Questions

Questions I am investigating in my dissertation:

  1. How do girls, through their artifact making and designerly practices, story themselves and contribute to technology culture (i.e., what kinds of stories do girls make and tell about girlhood in-interaction-with/against technology)?
  2. What are the impacts and effects of adopting designerly roles (i.e., game designer, media producer, robotics engineer) in terms of developing girls’ ability, confidence, interest, and participation in technology?

Learning : : Thinkering : : Mattering @ 101 Technology Fun—
Girls Designing Games, Media, Robots, Selves & Culture

(working abstract, your feedback is most welcome)

Recent advances in digital media and technology have led to breakthroughs in communication, education, entertainment, health, and learning. Today’s girls, the most avid technology users of any generation, now have widespread access to the most ubiquitous productivity tools in human history. With unprecedented opportunities to live better lives and realize their fullest potential, it is an exciting time for girls to be alive! And yet, despite all the liberating possibilities, many girls are distancing themselves from technology fields, careers, symbolism, and ideologies. Academic and industry research from the past thirty years documents that females continue to be under-represented in technology-related studies and professions, especially the industries that design and develop new technological innovations. How might we empower girls with the confidence, literacies, and tools that are necessary to benefit from and fully participate in advancing our increasingly mediated and technologically dependent society?

My dissertation begins with the premise that engaging girls with hands-on, heads-on, hearts-on, and feet-on experiences as designers and researchers of technology can be personally and culturally transformative in pro-feminist, pro-social, and empowering ways, rather than simply reproducing existing gender and generational roles. 29 co-researchers (girls ages 9-13) and I work closely with UBC faculty, graduate students, and teacher candidates at 101 Technology Fun, a series of intensive research camps offering designerly learning experiences in gaming, media, and robotics for middle school girls. Utilizing creative and participatory approaches to data collection, including design thinking challenges, iLife diaries, and ME documentaries, my study examines: How do girls story themselves through their artifact making and designerly practices? How are diverse cultural constructions of technology adopted, rejected, and remade by girls? What are the impacts and effects of adopting designerly roles in terms of developing girls’ agency, capability, interest, and participation in technology? Analysis of co-researchers’ artifacts, designerly practices, and research reflections are integrated with theoretical and empirical understandings to contribute a working portrait of how contemporary girlhood is constructed in-interaction-with/against technology and stories. Highlighting the need for girls’ voices to be recognized and given influence in educational research, this study exposes some of the gendered risks and opportunities, generational barriers, technical ingenuity, and transformative learning that girls articulate and reflect upon as they design and share artifacts and stories. Findings call for increasing girls’ agency and capability to participate as the designers and innovators of technology such that they can experience or effect more equitable and sustainable technology futures.


De/Constructing + Re/learning Media

There was a child went forth every day
And the first object he looked upon and received
with wonder or pity or love or dread
that object he became…

And these become of him or her that peruses them now
(Walt Whitman, 1855)

Popular media plays a persuasive role in our everyday lives as we make sense of our identities and the media constructed world in and around us. Consider how much of your view of reality is based upon “pre-constructed” media messages that have attitudes, interpretations and conclusions already built in. How do mainstream media affect the ways you see yourself (and others)? How do media advertising convey (explicitly or implicitly) ideological messages about the nature of the “good life”, family values, friendship, citizenship, gender roles, sexual attitudes, body image, sustainability and consumption?

All media are constructions. Media do not simply reflect external reality, rather, they present carefully crafted constructions from which we negotiate meaning and build our picture of reality. It is no secret that we are highly manipulated, gendered, socialized and commercialized by the media— we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. Understanding persuasive and ubiquitous media is vital for participating in our shared world(s), however we spend precious little time analyzing the influencing media messages that we are bombarded with each and every media-saturated day.

As today’s youth are exposed to more mediated messages in one day than their great grandparents were exposed to in an estimated year, how do we educate global citizens and future innovators to be confidently prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life— and not merely conformists or voracious consumers?  True death equals a generation living by unquestioned rules and attitudes, an unthinking generation who produce more and more people who do the same…

Here are a few handpicked ads to deconstruct. Note: they reflect the zeitgeist of the early 1900’s and were not designed with irony or humor.

Douche with Lysol or you will be so utterly repulsive down there that your husband will lose all sexual interest in you and your marriage will fall apart and it will all be your smelly disgusting fault!

Cocaine was sold over the counter and commonly found in products like toothache drops, dandruff remedies and medicinal substances. See how happy your children will play together if you treat them tococaine candies!

And if your dear ones have a cough, cold or any other disease of the throat and lungs, do not worry as a good dose of heroin will save the day! From 1898 through to 1910, heroin was marketed as a cough suppressant by trusted companies like Bayer, alongside the company’s other new product, Aspirin.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrupcontained 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce for teething children.

“More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarettes,” so of course you should too!

Dr. Batty’s Asthma Cigarettes claimed to provide temporary relief of everything from asthma to colds, canker sores and bad breath, although “not recommended for children under 6.”

Status of Females in IT