Dissertation Abstract: A Phenomenological Study of Women's Participation in Makerspace ​Communities of Practice

Makerspaces are a nascent, yet growing phenomenon that has not yet been the subject of extensive academic research. The question of why female participation in makerspaces is significantly lower that of their male counterparts remains largely unaddressed. This study uses a phenomenological approach to examine the experience of women are active participants in makerspace communities of practice. The makerspace community of practice is a social-learning environment that fosters creativity and innovation. This study frames the perceptions and experiences of the female participants in terms of the three dimensions of the community of practice: domain, community, and practice. Through domain, it examines the passions and interests that brought the individual to the makerspace. Through community, it explores both the interactions with others in the community of practice. Through practice, it investigates the types of shared tools, history, and artifacts that engage these women. An additional gender specific lens, Feminist Epistemology, is used to deconstruct the participant’s rendering of community life. Finally, Cultural Historical Activity Theory is applied to create a descriptive model of the data.