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Technical or not? Investigating the self-image of girls aged 9 to 12 when participating in primary technology education
Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7374-9659
Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5721-7719
Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0829-3349
2020 (English)In: Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, ISSN 1360-1431, E-ISSN 2040-8633, Vol. 25, no 2, p. 175-191Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Variance in interest and engagement by gender is a complex and long-standing research agenda in the field of technology education. Studies report that girls are more reluctant to participate in technology education, less interested in the subject and more negative towards technology than boys. It is argued that specific attitudes and roles hinder girls from engaging in technology education because technology is presented as a predominantly male domain, which fuels ideas about what technological agency is as well as whose interest in technology and what kind of technology are regarded as legitimate. There is, however, the potential to improve female engagement if we can gain knowledge about what girls do during lessons and how they think about themselves when learning technology. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the self-image of girls aged 9 to 12 when participating in primary technology education, by using Harding’s (1986) three gender levels: the symbolic, the structural and the individual. The methods used for this study were participant observations during technology classes followed by a focus group interview. From the perspective of Harding’s three levels of gender, the analysis of the observations and the focus group interview reveals that girls confirm the prevailing male norms and conceptions that are linked to what technology is and what it means “to be technical”, despite the fact that the teacher introduces gender-neutral activities. However, there is an ambiguity in our findings because the girls also resist the self-image of not being technical, especially when they work together and have ownership of their work with and learning about technology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 25, no 2, p. 175-191
Keywords [en]
Primary education, technology education, girls’ self-image, gender, focus group interview, observations
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-167463OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-167463DiVA, id: diva2:1452674
Available from: 2020-07-07 Created: 2020-07-07 Last updated: 2024-03-07
In thesis
1. In whose eyes am I technical?: Exploring the ‘problem’ of the (non)technical girl
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In whose eyes am I technical?: Exploring the ‘problem’ of the (non)technical girl
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
I vems ögon är jag teknisk? : En studie om ”problemet” med den teknik(o)intresserade flickan
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, girls’ non-interest in technology education and technological careers has been a topic of focus for many years, both in general and in politics, and it has influenced how the subject has been taught in schools. The thesis aims to critically examine the ‘problem’ of the (non)technical girl. This is done through four different studies. The first explores girls’ (age 10-17) engagement and interest in technology, according to international scientific literature (Study I). It is followed by studies of girls’ (age 9-14) activities, self-image and performativity in technology education, both in and out of school (Studies II, III). Lastly, the theory and empirical findings on gender, technology, and the technical girl and their implications for technology and STEM education from the first three studies were applied in Study IV. The thesis uses a theoretical framework based on concepts from the philosophy of technology and gender theory, primarily the three gender levels: the symbolic, the structural, and the individual. Data collection includes participant observation and focus group interviews with girls who have participated in technology education and camp activities, and data analysis is carried out using thematic analysis and qualitative content analysis. The findings from the first study confirm the general pattern of girls’ lesser interest in technology and call for the need to add a gender perspective. In contrast, studies II and III highlight the complex inter-action between girls’ activities and self-image in technology. Although girls in study II con-firm prevailing gender norms around technology, the results also show ambiguity and resistance to stereotypes, primarily when they work together and engage in their tasks in technology. Study III shows ambivalence about the “girlification” of technology to suit girls, and emphasises that girls’ interest in technology extends beyond gendered activities. Study IV reveals implications for technology and STEM education, pointing to potential gender pit-falls and stereotypical responses. The discussion contributes new insights into girls’ perceptions of themselves as technical. It advocates for a gender perspective in technology education research to uncover social barriers hindering girls from embracing their technical abilities. The emphasis lies in questioning established ‘problems,’ challenging gender norms, promoting inclusivity, and recognising diverse interests and skills in technology. 

Abstract [sv]

I Sverige har flickors ointresse för teknikutbildning och tekniska karriärer varit ett fokusområde under många år, både i allmänhet och inom politiken, och det har påverkat hur ämnet har undervisats i skolorna. Avhandlingen syftar till att kritiskt granska "problemet" med den teknik(o)intresserade flickan. Detta görs genom fyra olika studier. Den första undersöker hur flickors (ålder 10-17) engagemang och intresse för teknik och teknikutbildning ser ut enligt internationella studier (Studie I). Därefter undersöks flickors (ålder 9-14) aktiviteter, självbild och performativitet i teknikutbildning både inom och utanför skolan (Studie II, III). Studie IV är en didaktisk tillämpning av teori och empiri om genus, teknik och den tekniska flickan från de tre första studierna. Avhandlingen använder ett teoretiskt ramverk baserat på begrepp från teknikfilosofi och genusteori, framförallt de tre genusnivåerna: den symboliska, den strukturella och den individuella. Datainsamlingen omfattar deltagande observationer och fokusgruppintervjuer med flickor som deltagit i teknikundervisning och lägeraktiviteter, och analysen genomförs med tematisk analys och kvalitativ innehållsanalys. Resultaten från studie I bekräftar det generella mönstret av flickors minskade intresse för teknik och efterlyser ett genusperspektiv. Studie II och III belyser däremot den komplexa interaktionen mellan flickors aktiviteter och självbild inom teknikområdet. Trots att flickor i studie II bekräftar rådande könsnormer kring teknik, visar resultaten även på en tvetydighet och motstånd mot stereotyper, särskilt när de arbetar tillsammans och förfogar över sitt teknikarbete. Studie III visar på ambivalens kring ”tjejifiering” av teknik och betonar att flickors intresse för teknik sträcker sig bortom könsbestämda aktiviteter. Studie IV visar på implikationer för teknik- och STEM-utbildning, och pekar på potentiella könsrelaterade fall-gropar och stereotypa svar.  Diskussionen bidrar med nya insikter om flickors uppfattning om sig själva som tekniska. Där förespråkas värdet av genusperspektiv i forskning om teknikutbildning för att blotta sådant som hindrar flickor från att omfamna sina tekniska förmågor. Tonvikten ligger dock på att ifrågasätta etablerade "problem", utmana könsnormer, främja inkludering och erkänna olika intressen och färdigheter inom teknik.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2024. p. 154
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 125
Keywords
Technology education, Girls’ interest in technology, Gender, Technical, STEM, Teknikdidaktik, Flickors teknikintresse, Genus, Teknisk, STEM
National Category
Educational Sciences Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-201403 (URN)10.3384/9789180755979 (DOI)9789180755962 (ISBN)9789180755979 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-04-05, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2024-03-07 Created: 2024-03-07 Last updated: 2024-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Sultan, UlrikaAxell, CeciliaHallström, Jonas

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