Its no secret that in STEM fields in the US, woman are pretty underrepresented. Especially in Computer Science fields, woman in are a minority in STEM fields. There are many socioeconomic reasons that contribute to these numbers, and some are not easily fixed. However, Minecraft is a great place to start when trying to get girls interested.
The articles I read this week focused on this problem in the STEM fields and ways that Minecraft can help combat it.
The first article is written by Mimi Ito, who is someone I have come across multiple times in my Minecraft research. She is an awesome Educator at UC Irvine who is doing a lot with Minecraft.
Ito talks a bit on how stereotypes and gendered forms of play are limiting both girls and boys in their growth. Kids may have interests outside what is typical for their demographic, but it is hard for them to pursue them when they are always pushed in the “correct” direction by society, friends, and consumerism.
However, when Ito gets down to it, she says that focusing on breaking these stereotypes can actually be a negative thing. Instead, she advises to discover what kind of person each child is, and then build positively off of that.
Now Minecraft comes into this space by being a widely popular game. It is one of the only games in the world that has a near even spread of boys and girls who play. This means it a safe place for girls to explore their geekier side.
Ito also goes into a couple differnet archetypes for young girls and how to support their interests in tech. Overall I really liked this article and hope to read more of Ito’s work and thoughts.
The second article was another piece highlighting the lack of girls in STEM fields and how Minecraft can help.
Although this article was very similar to Ito’s, I liked this one a lot as well. It talks about Minecrafts ability to teach Visuospactial skills to its players, skills that girls are less likely to learn at a younger age due to how they typically play. According to the this journal, children with strong visuospatial skills are more likely to earn degrees in STEM fields.
It also highlights the fact that role models have a lot to do with kids’ interests. iHasCupquake and a few other popular female Minecraft content creators were featured and shown to contribute a good amount to increasing girls’ interests.
From both articles you can see that one of the major reasons women are underrepresented in STEM fields is the fact that girls are not supported in building STEM skills durng their education. Minecraft has the potential to teach many of these skills at a young age if utilized correctly, and also provides an easy segway into learning more higher level concepts.
Getting girls interested in STEM is important for our future. Our creators and innovators need to have female representatives, else half the human population is not having a say in growth of our world.
It’s our job as educators to do what we can.