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Digital Youth Divas: Exploring Narrative-Driven Curriculum to Spark Middle School Girls’ Interest in Computational Activities


"Women use technology to mediate numerous aspects of their professional and personal lives. Yet, few design and create these technologies given that women, especially women of color, are grossly underrepresented in computer science and engineering courses. Decisions about participation in STEM are frequently made prior to high school, and these decisions are impacted by prior experience, interest, and sense of fit with community. Digital Youth Divas is an out-of-school program that uses narrative stories to launch the creation of digital artifacts and support non-dominant middle school girls' STEM interests and identities through virtual and real-world community. In this article, we discuss the framework of the Digital Youth Divas environment, including our approach to blending narratives into project-based design challenges through on- and offline mechanisms. Results from our pilot year, including the co-design process with the middle school participants, suggest that our narrative-centered, blended learning program design sparks non-dominant girls' interests in STEM activities and disciplinary identification, and has the potential to mediate girls' sense of STEM agency, identities, and interests."