University makerspaces: Opportunities to support equitable participation for women in engineering & z.ast; Opportunities

Wendy Roldan, Julie Hui, Elizabeth M. Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Undergraduate women are more likely than their male peers to leave engineering majors because they do not feel that they belong in the engineering classroom. The growth of university makerspaces provides a potential opportunity to establish new patterns of interactions that provide female students with a sense of community. But we cannot realize this potential to retain female engineering majors, due to our limited understanding of their sense of community in these new university makerspaces. A critical examination of how females experience community within makerspaces through an equity lens is needed to identify what interventions are needed to facilitate the successful participation of a diverse student body. During a 13-month qualitative study, we performed 27 interviews with undergraduate female university engineering students and leaders of university makerspaces and engaged in participant observation of university and independent makerspaces to identify ways to support and limit a sense of community among female students. Our findings inform design principles for university makerspaces to support a sense of community including supporting project assessment, member assessment, perspective taking, signals of approachability, structured help-seeking, and credentialing. Theoretically, we contribute an emergent framework for understanding what mechanisms undergraduate women take into account when evaluating their sense of community in makerspaces. # 2018 TEMPUS Publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-768
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Design
  • Design communities
  • Engineering education
  • Equity
  • Gender diversity
  • Makerspaces
  • Sense of community
  • University makerspaces
  • Women in engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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