The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Using design thinking to cultivate the next generation of female STEAM thinkers

Partners' Institution
Fundacion para la Formacion Tecnica en Maquina-Herramienta
Year of publication
Educational stage
Secondary Level
Journal name
Thematic Area
STEAM intervention (teaching strategies, evaluation...)
Background Countries around the world have struggled to implement education policies and practices to encourage more female youths to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This has resulted in a persistent and sizable gender gap in science and mathematics subjects in some countries. Using mixed-methods sequential explanatory design, this paper explores an educational intervention-specifically, a 3-day design thinking workshop in Japan, designed to change female youths' perceptions regarding STEM topics. Framed using a constructivist approach to learning, the workshops aimed to engender creative confidence, empathy, and global competence among youths. Results The findings show that female youths who participated in the workshop had increased interest in engineering, greater creative confidence, more positive perceptions of STEM, higher levels of empathy and pro-social factors, and a more varied outlook on career options. We argue that this short intervention had a strong influence on the female youths' mindsets, self-images, and perceptions of STEM. Conclusion This study provides empirical support that a short intervention can produce positive change in how female youths relate to STEM. In gendered societies, an innovative method like design thinking has the potential to revitalize education curriculum in ways that spur female youths' confidence and creativity, enabling them to imagine a career in the field of STEM.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
- A design thinking workshop is carried out where the interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines is worked on, trying to see the influences of the discipline of art as a contribution of creativity that can influence the motivation towards this type of disciplines and professions in female
- A design thinking workshop is held among a group of high school students from private and public schools. Data collection is carried out over 4 years, this design thinking and STEAM workshop was conducted five times, with each session consisting of 18-24 participants. First, surveys are passed around collecting quantitative data. Surveys are conducted before and after the intervention. After the workshop a series of interviews are conducted with the aim of obtaining data to help supplement the information obtained from the experiences and insights gained from the initial testing.
- The evaluation is carried out on the basis of an explanatory design approach using mixed methods sequences. In this approach, qualitative data is used in order to complement or reinforce the results of the quantitative analysis.
- The young women who participated in the workshop showed a greater interest in engineering, greater creative confidence, more positive perceptions of STEM, higher levels of empathy and pro-social factors, and a more varied perspective on career options. In conclusion, the study shows a positive change in the way young women relate to STEM. An innovative method such as design thinking has the potential to revitalise the educational curriculum in a way that stimulates the confidence and creativity of young women, enabling them to imagine a career in the STEM field.

Increasing confidence and motivation through a new methodology such as design thinking will work towards changing female confidence and motivation in STEM careers and professions in order to increase the number of females in this field
Point of Strength
It is possible through methodologies involving STEM education to increase females' motivation to enter STEM careers and professions.
Design thinking, STEM, STEAM, Creative confidence, Empathy, Female youth
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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