We seek to provide a much-needed space for young girls who come from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to ignite their interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). A lab for girls to continue to spark their imagination and aid their intellectual growth and development; a place where they can tinker, build, break and rebuild stuff to learn through hands-on work and experimentation to enable them to develop a keen eye towards problems in their communities.
It is well known that STEM fields are spaces shaped dominantly by men. In many developed countries, efforts are being made to improve women's participation in STEM fields but in India we lack meaningful dialogue on the issue. There is also a need to analyse the root cause of the issue from various angles of gender, class, caste, etc. A 2013 FAT study showed that disadvantaged girls are unable to pursue STEM because of economic reasons, gender discrimination and unchallenged gender notions.
Building stuff brings a sense of satisfaction and confidence in ones own abilities. This is especially an important way to encourage more girls to opt for STEM careers after school and prevent them from self-elimination from STEM fields because of gendered roles and expectations, systemic discouragement in schools and lack of infrastructure. The lab aims to not just make STEM learning easy and interesting for girls, but also counter their fears and inhibitions related to entering STEM fields.
The Jugaad (Innovation) Lab is a means to encourage young girls from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to opt for STEM-related subjects when pursuing higher education. The Lab will help create an atmosphere that inspires creativity and scientific thinking in girls from a young age. In the long term we hope this will facilitate entry of girls from marginalised communities into the technology world as creators & makers, and even decision-makers around technology.