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In whose eyes am I technical?: Exploring the ‘problem’ of the (non)technical girl
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Division of Learning, Aesthetics, Natural Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7374-9659
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
I vems ögon är jag teknisk? : En studie om ”problemet” med den teknik(o)intresserade flickan (Swedish)
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 [en]
Technology education, Girls’ interest in technology, Gender, Technical, STEM
Keywords [sv]
Teknikdidaktik, Flickors teknikintresse, Genus, Teknisk, STEM
National Category
Educational Sciences Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-201403DOI: 10.3384/9789180755979ISBN: 9789180755962 (print)ISBN: 9789180755979 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-201403DiVA, id: diva2:1843076
Public defence
2024-04-05, K1, Kåkenhus, Campus Norrköping, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-03-07 Created: 2024-03-07 Last updated: 2024-03-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Girls’ engagement with technology education: A scoping review of the literature
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Girls’ engagement with technology education: A scoping review of the literature
2019 (English)In: Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, ISSN 1360-1431, E-ISSN 2040-8633, Vol. 24, no 2, p. 20-41Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to review internationally published scientific literature on the subject of girls’ engagement in technology education, in order to identify the most common descriptions of girls’ engagement with technology education, girls’ technological activities, and the relationship between girls and technology. After a scoping review of the literature, 20 relevant articles were identified and included in the study; they were analysed using content analysis. The results show that, according to the reviewed studies, girls are less interested in and have less positive attitudes towards technology (education) than boys. They are also less likely to choose a technology- or STEM-oriented occupa-tion. Several of the included studies venture possible explanations as to why this is and refer mainly to cultural factors. Those studies that do define the type of technology used in girls’ activities mostly describe a neutral, or male kind of “nuts and bolts” technology. As regards girls’ relationship to tech-nology, there is potential for improving female engagement using apparently simple means; for ex-ample, making sure the social context of teaching is adapted to girls. The results of the literature review are discussed in terms of their implications for future research and can be used as a guide for educators and researchers in the area. In particular, the reasons for girls’ lower interest in technolo-gy education compared to boys need to be further researched, and it may be that researchers need to study girls in their own right, not in perpetual comparison with boys, in order to come closer to an answer

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wellesbourne, United Kingdom: The Design and Technology Association, 2019
Keywords
girls’ engagement, gender, technology, technology education, scoping review
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158513 (URN)
Available from: 2019-07-02 Created: 2019-07-02 Last updated: 2024-03-07Bibliographically approved
2. Technical or not? Investigating the self-image of girls aged 9 to 12 when participating in primary technology education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Technical or not? Investigating the self-image of girls aged 9 to 12 when participating in primary technology education
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.

Keywords
Primary education, technology education, girls’ self-image, gender, focus group interview, observations
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-167463 (URN)
Available from: 2020-07-07 Created: 2020-07-07 Last updated: 2024-03-07
3. Bringing girls and women into STEM?: Girls’ technological activities and conceptions when participating in an all-girl technology camp
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bringing girls and women into STEM?: Girls’ technological activities and conceptions when participating in an all-girl technology camp
2024 (English)In: International journal of technology and design education, ISSN 0957-7572, E-ISSN 1573-1804, Vol. 34, no 2, p. 647-671Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Bringing more girls and women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, is often highlighted as an aim in education and industry. A constantly growing body of research on engagement is driven by equity concerns caused by the unbalanced gender distribution in STEM. In this study, Swedish teenage girls on a three-day technol- ogy camp are in focus. The camp was an initiative with three goals: “Get girls interested, keep girls interested and provide knowledge about futures within technology professions”. We explored the participating girls’ technological activities and conceptions of technology at the camp. Data collection was conducted through participant observations and a focus group interview. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and a gender theoretical framework. Results show the camp presented uncertain notions of what technology can be, and traditionally male-oriented domains were “girlified”. However, girlified activities might not have been constructive in this context since the girls expressed interest in technology before the camp and showed few signs of gendering technology – they liked all kinds of technology. Girlified technology can, at its worst, give a false image of the future industrial work life that the camp organiser aimed to inspire. Despite this, the camp activities were still meaningful and relevant to the girls. The camp created opportunities for the girls to develop their sense of being technical and a feeling of belonging. Implications for technology classroom settings and future camps are to value practical work and improvisational design without leaving the teaching unreflected. This could be a way of engaging and familiarising girls with the multifaceted world of technology without girlifying it. In addition, a broad conception of technology could make gender codes less relevant and open new opportunities. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2024
Keywords
Technology Education, Technology Camp, Gender and Technology, STEM, Girls Interest In Technology, All-Girl Activity
National Category
Educational Sciences Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-197643 (URN)10.1007/s10798-023-09831-z (DOI)001171383700003 ()
Funder
Linköpings universitet
Note

Funding: Linköping University

Available from: 2023-09-05 Created: 2023-09-05 Last updated: 2024-04-11Bibliographically approved
4. Gendering the curriculum
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gendering the curriculum
2022 (English)In: Debates in Design and Technology Education / [ed] Alison Hardy, New York: Routledge , 2022, 2, p. 134-148Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Design and technology is a relatively new subject compared to more traditional subjects, and during its brief existence, it has garnered widespread debate in schools. This book aims to explore some of these debates and challenges the reader with new perspectives about the subject by presenting and questioning arguments about the purpose, content and place of design and technology in the school curriculum. It will encourage the reader to critically reflect on their own beliefs and practices to reach informed judgements and perspectives that will affect how they teach and think about design and technology. Exploring the major issues that design and technology teachers encounter in their professional lives as well as introducing new topics they may never have considered before, this comprehensive second edition has been fully updated with 16 chapters focusing on emerging and enduring debates: How do we do race in design and technology? What’s so special about design and technology anyway? What is design cognition in design and technology classrooms? What is the potential of feedback in the creative processes of a design and technology classroom? Does food fit in design and technology? What is the role of making in design and technology?  With its combination of expert opinion and fresh insight, Debates in Design and Technology Education is the ideal companion for any student or practising teacher engaged in initial training, continuing professional development or master’s-level study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Routledge, 2022 Edition: 2
Keywords
dandt, dt, designandtechnology, design and technology, gender, gendering, gender and technology, teaching, engineering, Didactics, Pedagogy, Learning, teknikdidaktik, ämnesdidaktik, didaktik, pedagogik, lärande
National Category
Didactics Pedagogy Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-201401 (URN)9780367763732 (ISBN)
Available from: 2024-03-07 Created: 2024-03-07 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved

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