My target audience is Latina girls ages 11-13 who are in middle school and as I continue to explore how to best reach this audience, I found it helpful to first think about the barriers that exist. A few of the barriers I noticed when speaking to young women currently studying in the STEM fields were: lack of feeling prepared for the field; no one to push them on and tell them that they can succeed in field; lack of exposure of what exactly it means to study in a field and get a job; not aware of summer programs that could be really helpful in instilling enjoyment in the field and family reluctance to let children participate; and feelings of alienation when thinking about pursuing the field.
While I am not able to address all of these barriers, they do lead me to think about how the current projects out there connect to the theories and examples of media we have studied so far this semester. (Just so my project doesn’t end up doing something like this video…yikes.)
1. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed
I’ve chosen to connect this project to Freire’s work because since I am not a STEM student, I have to work with the community that already exists, rather than impose what I think should be in the media. I’ve done some of this by actually interviewing current STEM students at the Claremont Colleges. However, due to time constraints, I have only had two interviews and although they are not indicative of every STEM college student, their voices are essential to have as I move forward with the action plan. I believe that the liberation of the oppressed that applies to this group means the liberation of young Latinas to have the ability to believe they can have any path career wise and not be limited by the lack of representation. And I’ve seen this shown through the young ladies I interviewed as they realize that they have to be the trailblazers in opening up representation for younger Latinas.
I have to wonder why the color pink/girly images have not been able to be really subverted to be used in these contexts, instead of furthering further gendering of toys and lifestyles. The example of the Barbie Liberation Organization seems to me an example of how Barbie was freed from her original meaning and given a subverted reading. While most of the examples of detourment we were shown had to do with consumerism and media that furthers this, can colors themselves be detoured? Will using pink when advertising engineering toys always be linked to wanting to get girls to consume the product?
3. Paper Tiger TV
The structure of the shows on PPTV is something that I admired because of the persistence that the people involved had in keeping the programs horizontal in nature. The desire for anybody who wanted to be involved to be involved is an important aspect that makes the shows really reflective of the communities they want to represent and speak to. Since at this point, media for Latinas that would seek to have furthering interest in STEM in these young girls would be viewed as “alternative,” as I look at what would be the best method, something that is more horizontal in its functioning would be best. PPTV is just such a good model to have as media that can be entertaining and have a purpose of serving the community. And we saw in readings that dealt with tactical media, in order for the media to be an intervention it has to be fun!
4. Participatory media
Much of the media that is participatory in nature stresses the factor of trust that is essential for those involved to really invest in the project. One can see this in the examples of I am that Girl and Latinitas in which girls sent in their own material by form of writing or images. However, none of these sites are as participatory as the examples we were shown in class (witness.org and the Mapping Memories projects) and I believe it is hard to produce the kind of material Mapping Memories produced without having meetings and producing the material together in a collaborative process in the real world. Some other things to take into consideration are the place of the individual when attempting to build a collective: acknowledge that the experiences of the individual are important to forming a collective, but they are not the only important thing.
After much thought, I’ve found a way to incorporate the few interviews that I have conducted into some kind of media intervention.
Method: Since YouTube is one of the most used sites by youth ages 11-13 (and other groups), I propose that in order to form an intervention on the representation of Latinas in STEM and the already dialogues of visibility that are occurring, a YouTube channel would be an effective way to reach the audience I want. The channel will consist of clips of interviews from Latinas studying in the STEM fields which in the meantime will be answering questions I ask them, but which ideally would come from viewers. If I had more time and resources, I would have the channel extend past simply being snippets of Latina’s experiences in the STEM field to biweekly short shows in which the college students themselves teach something and follow kind of in the fun structure of the Bill Nye Science Guy show. There would not be a name attached to the show as every show would have different college students hosting and being the face of science and math learning. I still have to think further of a name for the channel and collective, but ideally this program would come from a collective of Latina STEM students, not simply a media studies student.
“The most powerful determinant of whether a woman goes on in science might be whether anyone encourages her to go on.”