Over the past 30 years, educational researchers have interrogated the connections between playful learning and experimentation offered through computing, and trajectories in STEM and creative industries. At the same time, the proliferation of novice-friendly and cost-accessible digital and physical tools have offered opportunities for young learners to engage in authentic computing, coding and design practices. However, explicit and implicit barriers to educational and professional engagement remain across gender, race/ethnicity and dis/ability, often in intersecting ways, that disproportionately affect historically marginalized and minoritized groups. In this talk, I will discuss some of these persistent inequalities, and the various ways I have explored them in leisurely and formal learning domains to better understand why and how they persist. I will further discuss contemporary research on how design cultures and practices implicitly reinforce these biases and discriminatory practices. I will end with design recommendations and future directions of this work.
Gabriela T. Richard is a researcher, designer and educator of learning technologies, media, games and play. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Learning, Design and Technology program at Penn State University, where she conducts research on the ways that diverse youth and adults engage in learning, collaboration, identity formation, and self-efficacy with gaming, livestreaming, makerspaces and formal and informal computing education. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree in the learning sciences, she worked as an instructional designer and media developer, as well as created, spearheaded and taught early maker and interactive design education efforts (then termed “physical computing”) in the New York City public schools with socioculturally diverse and STEM-underrepresented students and teachers. In particular, she explores ways that technologies can be culturally-situated and inclusive and employs intersectionality as a frame for understanding complex sociocultural relationships across gender, race/ethnicity, culture, sexuality and dis/ability in media and design. She has written extensively about video games, diversity and inclusive design, and co-edited the third book in an influential series on gender and gaming, Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional perspectives and inclusive designs in gaming (ETC/CMU Press). She has also authored several papers on formal and informal learning through coding, design, making and informal computing education, often taking an equitable, inclusive and learner-centered perspective and approach. She is the recipient of awards, fellowships and grants from organizations including the National Academy of Education, the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the American Educational Research Association.