Emily Pilloton of Girl’s Garage discusses the creation of the all girls design and build program.
EMILY PILLOTON: I don’t know how much of it has changed because I’ve maybe changed my teaching style, but I notice it less now. And I wonder if that’s also because I’ve become completely intolerant to that kind of weird gender disparity that is totally learned. That’s something we observe our whole lives and we emulate it.
So I also think all of my staff and instructors are all-female, and so we now have mentors and adults who look like and have similar lived experiences to our students. And so that gap is much smaller between the adults and the kids, and I think that’s important for girls to have an adult in the room, especially when you’re doing something that feels so scary and maybe historically male. And you can just look at your teacher, and my studio instructor now is like a 26-year-old, bilingual, amazing former furniture designer. And I think that makes a big difference, too.
So having adults in the room that feel deeply connected to the lived experiences of their female students– and also just calling that behavior out when you see it, not in an accusatory way, but if I have a co-ed class and I see that my female students are not volunteering, I’m going to point it out. And maybe not in front of the whole class, but I might say, we need to make 12 cuts. And, Augustina, I’d like you to be the one that does it next.
So I think also having the girls face, the dedicated girls space, where there is some crossover between our daytime class and the after school class, there seems to be a lot more confidence overall. And maybe that’s a result of time that just years have gone by and there’s been a shift in culture within our classroom that the girls don’t feel that way as much anymore.