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Author: Sabhyata Timsina

Re-engineering perceptions — women in STEAM

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Img source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Rubin

Vera Rubin

As part of my engagement with Karkhana I have been exploring various threads of thought around technology, amateur contributions to science and technology  and the interplay between gender and STEAM. The passing of Vera Rubin, a critical astronomer of the last century, precipitated some connections between different strands of conversations I have been having here in Kathmandu with women in STEAM and Rubin’s own experience as a woman in science.

Irina, a research assistant at Karkhana, speaks about her years in engineering school with disdain. As she entered the final year and was introduced to hands-on and other practical usage of theories she had learned through the years, and she had finally begun to enjoy the course. Projects were her thing, she hadn’t fared particularly well with memorizing derivatives but she loved bringing theories to life by making. Her final project, a quadcopter, not only worked perfectly but also looked presentable. But instead of encouragement, her teachers raised doubts about whether she had done it herself. Read more

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Makers, hackers or slackers?

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I sat down with Marc on the last day of K_space to chat about his work and ended up having a long conversation about the socio-political meaning of hacking, the direction in which the maker movement is headed, hacking as a teaching method and gender dynamics within the technical field. The interview, transcribed below, is a great explainer on what making and hacking looks like outside of the vacuum of  technical fields and instead embedded within society, politics and history.

Let’s start with your take on the hype behind the maker movement, what do you think about the notion that it’s instigating a third industrial revolution?
I was in Manchester in May/June where I had a meeting with a Chinese maker movement. Manchester was the pioneering place for the first industrial revolution but look at how Manchester has suffered from it; the first European slums were in Manchester, the poverty and misery in Manchester during the first industrial revolution even inspired people like Engels and Marx to study its aftermath. So it was ironic that I was in Manchester having a conversation about 3D printing in the midst of the maker culture hype that it is ushering in a third industrial revolution.
I come from a technophilic background but the more I pay attention to technology in social, cultural and educational contexts, the more my attention shifts towards how technology impacts society. The real challenges today have primarily come through technology–climate change and so on–which we now try to fix with technology. This is not the right approach because these problems come from the unstudied hype and anticipation regarding an industrial revolution. By focusing so much on technical solutions we neglect the political pressure and social study needed to solve problems. The search for technical solutions has reached exaggerated heights especially with space exploration, which is a problem by itself as the message that we’re giving in the way we do space exploration is that that we messed things up in this planet so now it’s time to find an alternate place to live. Read more

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