Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To read more posts from this series, click here.
“I consider myself a maker because I use my creativity to make things, whether it’s a jukebox piano or a simple craft,” said Sierra, one of our most active youth here at DHF. She first got involved in our programs in the fall of 2013 and she says that her experience here has been “insane.” “I never in a million years would have thought that I’d present at The White House or be involved in so many different events. All of this was possible because of the opportunities DHF has given me,” she told us.
Throughout her time at DHF, Sierra has grown to become very passionate about making, but even more passionate about girls and making. Early on in her time with us, Sierra noticed the lack of females in our space. “My theory is that the girls who came here didn’t have the opportunity to form a bond with anyone, which lead them to leave because they felt unwelcome,” Sierra shared.
Once Sierra began to notice this ongoing trend, she decided to do something about it. In November of 2014, Sierra formed a group called “The Makerettes.” “I started this group as a way for girls to be more comfortable here, to become more united, and to take action in the STEM industry.” This group consists of female Tech Center Members as well as female DHF staff. The group meets regularly to work on projects, discuss making, and get to know each other better.
Sierra believes that other makerspaces should have all female groups like “The Makerettes” because it helps to teach girls that making and technology is for anyone, not just boys. “More girls should get involved in making,” Sierra said, “I believe that many girls enjoy it, but are pushed away because it isn’t a typical female activity. Society pushes us away from it, whether we like it or not.”
When she first came to DHF, Sierra did not like technology. She joined us because she needed an after-school program and her mom was pushing her towards technology; which she was very hesitant about. However, through her experience with us over the past few years, she has become comfortable enough with technology that she has decided to study Electrical Engineering at either The University of Maryland or Johns Hopkins University when she goes to college in the fall of 2017.