In the past years, technology-related making and the related maker movement were paid particular attention in the worldwide public. Although making is not a new phenomenon, it gained an increased momentum due to the broad availability of digital fabrication technologies. Several different forms of maker spaces developed, characterized by the different maker communities who frequent them, and in turn, new communities arise from the continued formation of new makerspaces.
Access to making often leads to a multitude of opportunities, resulting in disadvantages for those being excluded from making. Even though technology-based makerspaces and Fablabs are being established in Austria, they are mainly situated in urban environments and it is likely that young men use them, rather than any other population, as evidenced by international research. However, this data rarely comes from Austria or Central Europe; furthermore, research has not provided a systematic investigation of encouraging factors that would support inclusive access to technology-driven making.
The proposed project aims to address this gap by investigating opportunities that would facilitate regional, inclusive access to making. In this research project, we expand our focus beyond educated, young men*, towards underrepresented groups – especially including women* and girls*. In order to do so, local conditions will be comprehensively studied and related to existing work and guidelines in that area. We will assess diverse makers’ (and makers-to-be) needs, preferences, and existing practices in order to create a set of interventions. These interventions will be explored in the field to define “best practices” that facilitate diverse ways of access to making and take into account the particularities of (Austrian) cultures and realities in urban and rural environments.
The future users* of makerspaces will benefit from the project outcomes by means of more inclusive and equal access to technology, as well as increased opportunities, to work on innovation processes. The project partners* can immediately use the project outcomes in further research projects, new services and future industry cooperation, as well as to address new target groups. Additionally, diversity in Fablabs and makerspaces can be enlightening and emancipating, and can therefore have lasting effects on socio-political democratic decision-making processes.
Verena Fuchsberger, Dorothé Smit, Nathalia Campreguer França, Georg Regal, Stefanie Wuschitz, Barbara Huber, Joanna Kowolik, Laura Devendorf, Elisa Giaccardi, and Ambra Trotto. 2022. Making Access: Increasing Inclusiveness in Making. In Extended Abstracts of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’22), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491101.3503696
Nathalia Campreguer França, Dorothé Smit, Stefanie Wuschitz, and Verena Fuchsberger. 2021. The Women* Who Made It: Experiences from Being a Woman* at a Maker Festival. Sustainability 13, 16: 9361. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169361
Dorothé Smit and Verena Fuchsberger. 2020. Sprinkling Diversity: Hurdles on the Way to Inclusiveness in Makerspaces. In Proceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1145/3419249.3420070
FEM*mad (FFG No. 873000) is part of the program “Talente” that is operated by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG. The financial support by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology is gratefully acknowledged.