Making Grooves With Needles: Using e-textiles to encourage gender diversity in embedded audio systems design

Making Grooves With Needles: Using e-textiles to encourage gender diversity in embedded audio systems design

Paper presented at ACM DIS 2018, full paper at: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3196716

Abstract:
Historically, women have been excluded from engineering and computer science disciplines, and interactive audio is no exception. Relatively few women are involved with the designing and building of embedded audio systems with traditional tools such as microprocessors, but when embedded audio systems are built using e-textiles, much larger proportions of women become engaged with technology. In this paper we review theories for this gender disparity and the barriers women face in working with audio technology, and then present a com- parison of survey data between an e-textile audio workshop and an audio platform user group. Extrapolating from the case study and the surveyed literature, we propose that flexibility in learning, communal dissemination of knowledge, and gender- ing of tools are prominent reasons why women engage with technology via e-textiles.

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Becky Stewart

June 11, 2018
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Transcript

  1. Making Grooves With Needles: Using e-textiles to encourage gender diversity

    in embedded audio systems design Rebecca Stewart Sophie Skach Astrid Bin rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  2. If you advertise a workshop for learning how to build

    embedded audio systems, you are very likely to end up with a workshop consisting mostly of men. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  3. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero NIME 2018 Bela Workshop

  4. you are very likely to end up with a workshop

    consisting mostly of women. If you advertise a workshop for learning how to build embedded audio systems with e-textiles, rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  5. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero V&A Digital Futures with E-Stitches London 2017

  6. In this paper we explore why this happens. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero

  7. Some Background Women and girls are underrepresented in every aspect

    of audio technology including: • Professional music production Marlene; Mathew, Jennifer; Grossman, and Areti Andreopoulou. 2016. Women in Audio: contributions and challenges in music technology and production. In Proceeedings of the 141st Audio Engineering Society Convention. 1–10. Natalie Sappleton, Sunrita Dhar-Bhattacharjee, Haifa Takruri-Rizk, and Rae Baezer. 2006. WAVE-ing Goodbye to the Women? Explaining Gender Segregation in the Audio Video Industries. Technical Report. 1–32. • Academic communities Emma Frid. 2017. Sonification of Women in Sound and Music Computing - The Sound of Female Authorship in ICMC , SMC and NIME .... In Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference. Shanghai. Charlotte Desvages and Alex Wilson. 2017. Gender Balance at DAFx (or lack thereof). Technical Report. Xambó, A. 2018. “Who Are the Women Authors in NIME? - Improving Gender Balance in NIME Research”. In Proceedings of the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME ’18). Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. 174-177. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  8. Some Background Women and girls are underrepresented in every aspect

    of audio technology including: • Students enrolled in music technology degrees Georgina Born and Kyle Devine. 2016. Gender, Creativity and Education in Digital Musics and Sound Art. Contemporary Music Review 35, 1 (2016), 1–20. Georgina Born and Kyle Devine. 2015. Music technology, gender, and class: Digitization, educational and social change in Britain. Twentieth-Century Music 12, 2 (2015), 135–172. Natalie Sappleton, Sunrita Dhar-Bhattacharjee, Haifa Takruri-Rizk, and Rae Baezer. 2006. WAVE-ing Goodbye to the Women? Explaining Gender Segregation in the Audio Video Industries. • Composers utilising music technology Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner. 2003. Women and music technology: Pioneers, precedents and issues in the United States. Organised Sound 8, 1 (2003), 31–47. • Semi-professional or professional developers of audio technology outside academia Freida Abtan. 2016. Where Is She? Finding the Women in Electronic Music Culture. Contemporary Music Review 35, 1 (2016), 53–60. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  9. Some Background E-Textiles • Electrical circuitry consisting of conductive threads

    or fabrics. • Lilypad platform developed by Leah Buechley. • Considered its role in diversifying technology design from the beginning. • Women more likely to engage with Lilypad than Arduino Uno. • Shown to effectively engage girls across multiple studies. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  10. Case Study: Examining Two Populations Bela community • Respondents to

    an online survey conducted in June 2017. • 251 responses from a community of about 700. E-textile workshop participants • Workshop hosted at an art and music festival in the UK in November 2018. • 15 attendees; 11 completed an online survey before the workshop and 5 completed a second survey after the workshop. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  11. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero Video by Diana Read https://vimeo.com/243322558

  12. Age Distribution rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero

  13. Gender Distribution rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero

  14. Prior Experience • Bela community had relatively more experience with

    embedded platforms. • Workshop participants did have some exposure to ‘maker’ technologies like Arduino, Raspberry Pi. • No workshop participant has worked with Bela before. • Workshop participants tended to self-report as having little experience with technology, even when had formal qualifications. • Most workshop participants who had prior experience with e- textiles, had also taught e-textiles skills to others. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  15. Motivation Bela community identified as: • musicians (79%, 198) •

    programmers (63%, 158), • makers (55%, 139) • instrument builders (54%, 136) • researchers (43%, 109) • educators (32%, 80) • hardware developers (25%, 62) • visual artists (18%, 46) E-textile workshop participants identified as: • makers (33%, 8) • researchers (21%, 5) • visual artists (13%, 3) • programmers (8% 2) • 1 musician • 1 instrument builder • None identified as hardware developer • 90% (10) attended the workshop to gain skills (textile, technical or general) rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  16. Women just like to sew. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero

  17. Women just like to sew. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero

  18. Identified Themes Opportunities that textile communities present and the barriers

    that they remove. • Flexibility in Learning • Communal Knowledge Dissemination • Tools rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  19. Flexibility in Learning • Women may not have pursued formal

    education in technical fields for a variety of sociocultural reasons, so need to provide alternative educational routes. • See Kobakant’s How to Get What You Want site • Also see the prevalence of workshop teaching to share acquired skills • Allow for Turkle’s epistemological pluralisms where multiple paths to understanding are supported. • Provide a social context for learning to support McCartney and Code’s second personhood. Allow for ‘bouncing ideas off each other.’ rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  20. Communal Knowledge Dissemination • E-textiles, much like traditional textiles, has

    relied on communities sharing practice amongst peers. • Was how the early Lilypad development was first shared and how e- textiles continue to be disseminated. • Connecting with community was a declared desired outcome of the workshop participants. • Supports concept of pluggable communities by Morreale et al whereby disparate established communities (here textile practitioners and programmers/engineers) are brought together through the shared interest in embedded audio design. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  21. Tools • ‘Tools are not neutral.’ Irene Posch and Geraldine

    Fitzpatrick. 2018. Integrating Textile Materials with Electronic Making: Creating New Tools and Practices. In Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI '18). 158-165. • Pluggable communities centre around shared tools, which then take on the gendered associations of that community. • Consider the soldering iron vs sewing needle. • Tools provide ease of access to process. • The Lilypad opened up microcontroller programming to textile practitioners by allowing the needle and thread to be the core fabrication tools of circuit construction. • Within audio, Lilypad products are severely limited, while the Bela explicitly overcomes these technical deficiencies. It had previously only been accessible with ‘traditional’ electronics tools, so we created a fabric breakout board to allow it to accessible with textile tools. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  22. Conclusion Women have been historically excluded from participating in audio

    technology fields. Women have not historically faced the same difficulties when participating in textile cultures, particularly those centred around hand-crafts. We used an e-textile workshop as a case study to probe why women are proportionally more engaged with the e-textiles Bela workshop than with the broader Bela community. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  23. Conclusion We found that • Flexibility in learning • Communal

    knowledge dissemination • Tools were emerging themes from the case study and related literature. We recommend creating communities that are designed for including women, as opposed to requiring women to participate in environments that have historically excluded them. In closing, solely examining the participation of those that identify as women is only a start, and certainly not a sufficient measure of inclusive communities. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero
  24. rebecca.stewart@qmul.ac.uk @theleadingzero Thank You