Gabriela is awarded an AAUW Dissertation Fellowship for her work on gender and game culture

Fellow-Gabriela-Richard-Dec-2012Gabriela Richard, doctoral student and dolcelab member, received an American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association for University Women (AAUW) for her dissertation on gendered experience (across ethnicity and sexuality) in game culture and its implications for equitable educational game design.

“‘Why So Few?’ women in science and technology? Gabriela T. Richard is looking for the answers. As an AAUW American Fellow, she’ll be studying how online gaming culture reinforces stereotype threat that can push women away from STEM – and the importance of communities where women support each other.” – AAUW (via Facebook page)

Her dissertation study explores gendered experience with digital games and online gaming culture to inform equitable educational games and learning environments. Since research shows high correlation between gaming and computer participation and pursuit of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers (see, for example, AAUW’s report, “Why so few?”), research has shown that increasing female participation in gaming and computer cultures could increase their long-term pursuit of STEM.

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Her study is grounded in the learning sciences and informed by research on stereotype threat, school climate, game theory, social constructivism, and gender studies.  It is an ethnographic investigation and mixed methods examination of how gender interacts with game culture, which ultimately hopes to inform equitable game design that is sensitive to social and contextual challenges in meeting learning outcomes with video games.

Her research speaks to education more broadly to include formal and informal environments and the ways those environments and tools can affect individuals from choosing certain kinds of careers or developing the right kinds of confidence and expertise required to succeed or persist in those careers.  This is an area of research, which is still ripe for exploration and development (particularly in understanding the intersections between gender, ethnicity and sexuality), and she hopes to continue to contribute to that dialogue, through research and teaching.

More information on the award can be found here and here.