This workshop aims at girls with a migrant background aged 12 to 18 who are interested in programming and developing DIY textile projects. For the development of the web seminar, the participants received a set of electronic components and textiles by post to be able to carry out the exercises on the programming (software) as well as on the material level (hardware). Taking into account the underrepresentation of women in IT positions and the disadvantages of migrant women of the first and second generation, "Cyborggewebe" is a project aiming at imparting a range of skills and competencies to improve the self-confidence and equality of girls, neutralize the gender gap in IT and programming.
This year I was invited to collaborate with Mar de Colores e.V in order to coordinate activities that involve technology, especially for girls. Mar de Colores e.V is an organization that works mainly with families with a migration background, mostly from Latin American countries. These families have socio-economic disadvantages due to migration, lack of networks, and language limitations. Girls are the most disadvantaged in this context since in many families from Latin America, traditional patriarchal structures are still very present and giving as a result fewer opportunities for girls compared to boys.
As a manager of socio-cultural projects with a special interest in human rights for girls and women, I designed and carried out in 2020, with a colleague, the workshop "Mädchen an die Macht!" with funds from Telekom Stiftung for the program “Ich Kann Was”. The workshop was successful! Also, they are funding us to carry out the second part of the workshop in2021: “Mädchen an die Macht! Eco-leadership ”.
When we saw the opportunity to apply for the Meet and Code funds to hold an event at CodeWeek 2020, we thought of activity for girls as well. We wanted to design a workshop that did not include the word “girls” in the title, but rather that it got their attention from their own interest. Without the intention of stereotyping the concept: woman-fashion, we felt that the design of smart textiles or E-textiles could help to attract our target public.
For this reason, “Tejido Cyborg //Cyborggewebe" was an introduction to Arduino coding, but creating a specific artistic product as a goal: a garment electronically intervened by the participants. Our activities are designed not only "for girls", but with a gender perspective. In other words: with a female trainer as a role model, in a safe space, which aims to equal opportunities for all genders, strengthening self-esteem and empowering girls to achieve the best of themselves.
The workshop was held in two sessions of two hours each. In advance, we prepared a kit for every kid with all the necessary materials and a mini-book with instructions. Then we sent all by post to each kid's house. We consider that the workshop was a success and we are pleased with the results:- We successfully carry out a playful activity, in an online format, with technical content, both hardware, and software, plus linked to an artistic expression.
- The girls who attended the workshop did not feel intimidated by the word “technology” and yet ended up coding like experts! (within the basics of the Arduino activity)
- The trainer is a woman with a migrant background, like most of the participants. In this way, we also provided a role model for the girls: “If she can do it, so can I!” was the underlying message.
- We created a safe virtual environment for the girls, where they could experiment, speak and create freely.
- They made very funny interventions in the clothes, some were used for Halloween and others are going to be used at Christmas.
- This workshop helped Mar de Colores e.V, to achieve a better position as a reference for bilingual technological activities for kids (Spanish-German) in Berlin.
During the online ceremony of Meet and Code Awards 2020, Cyborg-Gewebe was named the winner in Girls do IT! category. Congratulations!