Woman working with a math equation on a whiteboard
Article/journal, East Asia, Innovation, Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School

Using Design Thinking to Cultivate the Next Generation of Female Steam Thinkers

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 sizeable 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. 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.