Girls & Making: Meet Caitlyn

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 see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space?

I am passionate about female makers in our space because like anything, with diversity you get different view points, which means different ideas, in turn when we collaborate we can turn our ideas into better more efficient creations.

2. What is one of your favorite memories as a young female maker?
Growing up My Mom would let me cook/bake my own creations, using anything in the kitchen.  I remember trying my hardest to make cookies, thinking through the ingredients I knew went into cookies and being sure they would be the best cookies ever.  In reality after my mom baked them for me they never tasted that good, but it was my first time I really tried to problem solve and create.  Now, 20 some odd years later I can make some pretty darn good cookies.
3. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?
I’m not sure how we can get more girls interested in making programs other than getting the word out and really emphasizing “Making.” I think as humans we are programed to create.  Everyone has a need to create in some form or fashion, I’ve never met a kid that didn’t have an idea of something they would create whether digitally with a video game or computer or physically but more often what stops them from creating is either they don’t have the supplies needed or the support.  So emphasizing to both boys and especially girls that a program centered around Making will allow them to create.
4. Have you always been interested in making? What made you interested and what was the first project you worked on?
I would say I’ve always been into making but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I starting incorporating tech into my making.  I honestly don’t know what my first project was but I can list off about a million projects as a kid I wish I had the supplies for.  I was the kid that when I could create a project to show my work I would.  In High School the best English teacher I had was Mr. Talley.  He would allow me to create a project for all of my book reports.  I made a paper doll for The Count of Monte Cristo where you could change his outfits to go with each of his disguises.  I also created a leather bond diary and wrote down entrees as if I were Buttercup.  I had quit a few more projects I created but I think why this class made such a profound impact was that my teacher gave me room to create.  I was the the one coming up with ways to prove I read the book, not him.
5. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?
I would say that if they are girls like me they shy away because they feel it has to do with tech.  I would rather be creating with my hands than sitting at a computer.

Girls & Making Series: Meet Claire

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 see other posts from this series, click here.

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“I consider myself a maker because I can take my imagination and turn it into a reality,” Claire told us. Claire has been coming to DHF since last fall when she first joined our all female cohort of Maker Foundations and she says that the past year with us has been “thrilling.”

“I would have never thought that in just a year of being a part of DHF I would be where I am today,” she shared. Since joining us, Claire has been awarded many opportunities. “In my time at DHF, I’ve become the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology Hackathon prize winner, spoke in front of 600 people at the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland Gala, visited the National Security Agency, met the United States Director of Education, and so much more!,” Claire shared.

Throughout her time with us, Claire has worked on many projects, however the project that she is most proud of is “Drako the Dragonfly.” He has a 3D printed body, laminated wings, and mechanics that are all laser-cut. This is a part of a series that she is working on that is made up of many different bio-mimicry robots. Claire is calling this series “NatureCoders.” Also in this series are Sy the Spider and Lulu the Lightning Bug.

Claire is very passionate about making, especially about girls and making. “I definitely think that more females should get involved! Yes, technology feels like an activity for men, but that is only because society has made it that way,” she said. Claire feels as though girls don’t see the way that they can connect technology to the other subjects that they are interested in, so her goal is to help to bridge the gap between these subjects and show girls that technology can be related to anything they want.

Although she is only 16 years old, Claire has already thought about her career path and what she might want to to. She is hoping to go into a tech related field, but isn’t exactly sure. She loves nature, animals, coding, 3D printing, and laser-cutting and wants to find a way that she can combine all of these things.

If you want to keep up with Claire and her tech journey, you can follow her blog or her Bugs and Code Facebook page.

Girls & Making Series: Meet Mary

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 see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Have you always been interested in making? 

I’ve been making stuff for almost as long as I can remember. It’s entirely possible that I came out of the womb drawing. I have been really lucky to be educated in the arts from a very young age, so I never really considered paths that weren’t creative. Since coming to Baltimore to attend school, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of ways to connect art and technology. In particular, I think to a collaborative project that involved creating installations for sensory therapy spaces. It was really exciting to take technical drawings and turn around and fabricate these ideas with others. It also taught me a lot about how following my creative impulses can lead me to connect with people in a really profound way.

2. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space? 

I’m passionate about the work I do at DHF because it’s important to me to connect and empower those who I can share a similar creative drives and passions. I think women have unique capacities for empathy and communication, which can set up ideal conditions for making. Some of the strongest bonds in my life have been with those I’ve created with, so I want to contribute to a world where women know they have a place in this process and can rely on each other along the way.

3. What is one of your favorite memories of a young female maker?

When I first got to DHF and started working with Maker Foundations, it really struck me how amazing the girls are who come here. They are incredibly driven, articulate and eager to learn on their feet. With the all-girls cohort it was especially clear how hands-on they were compared to the boys. Whereas their male counterparts generally started their projects with virtual components (designing Scratch games, mixing sounds in Soundplant), the girls started by making physical and building interactive elements into them. For instance, Violet built a stage and a really intricate drum set and then hooked it up to a Makey Makey and sound library, allowing others to play through the character she developed because she cared about them. Many of these kinds of projects stood out to me because they were strongly rooted in narratives which encouraged interaction and engagement in a really sophisticated way. At our showcase, I was overwhelmed by joy in seeing them bring others into the stories and worlds they’d created.

4. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?

I actually don’t think that girls shy away from making. I grew up in creative environments my whole life and I’ve always been surrounded by women there. There’s a whole history and tradition of women in arts and craft that has supported this. Within the rapidly changing landscapes of technology, however, it seems that women are less recognized. While we are certainly the minority in STEM-based learning, I don’t think this is due to lack of interest or ability. Rather, I think that young women depend on social structures and interactivity within creative spaces. On the surface, technology often does not appear this way. It may seem cold, detached and rewarding to those who works independently and in virtual capacities.

5. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?

In order to increase female participation in STEM learning, I think it’s important to dismantle this perception. First and foremost, it’s important to build up a supportive community of women in both learning and leadership roles. At DHF, we introduced an all-girls cohort of Maker Foundations, which drastically increased retention among female makers. But it’s not enough to just get more girls in the space; we’ve worked hard to find and continue to look for ways to keep them here. In part, this involved revitalizing the Makerettes (our Friday making club for girls) in an effort to encourage young women to utilize the resources in our space together beyond the context of our courses.

Girls & Making Series: Meet Sierra

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.


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“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.