When preschool girls engineer: future imaginings of being and becoming an engineer

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Not a lot is known about how preschool teachers engage children in the future imaginings of engineering. What is known has primarily come from Northern American contexts, where the positive affordances for engineering education in preschools have been noted. What we do not know, is how the pedagogical practice invites girls into engineering activity settings in preschools, and if and how they are positioned to imagine a future self in engineering. The central problem reported is centered on how girls become oriented towards or imagine themselves being and becoming an engineer when in preschool. The study examined how children develop a motive orientation to engineering practices when teachers create motivating conditions in engineering education over 5.4 weeks (27.3 h digital observations) for 31 children (aged 3.4–5.5 years; mean age of 4.4 years). The study found that rather than a future imagining of engineering by children during free play time, the girls had difficulties with access to the engineering activity setting, and therefore had limited possibilities for acting ‘as if’ they were engineers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100372
Number of pages13
JournalLearning, Culture and Social Interaction
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Cultural-historical
  • Engineering education
  • Gender
  • Preschool
  • STEM

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