Hear Me Kiosks at CMU start conversations about Gender & STEM

Hear Me is two months into its Gender Bias and STEM campaign. So far we have interviewed two groups of students (middle school girls in a STEM program at CMU and elementary and middle school students in an after-school program at Assemble), and their stories are on the website here (www.hear-me.net/stem). We have also trained two groups of CMU volunteers on Hear Me interviewing techniques and best practices, and will be training another group of volunteers at Penn State New Kensington in January 2016.

But we didn't want to wait to start sharing what the students are saying! We have installed Hear Me kiosks in 3 locations on CMU’s campus - one in a high-traffic corridor and two next to communal kitchens. We intentionally installed these kiosks in places people congregate, and where passers-by will be intrigued enough by the kiosks to listen and respond to the students’ stories. These kiosks will remain up at CMU through Spring 2016, and we will update the featured stories.

The following stories were featured in the kiosks in November and December -

Between November 30, 2015 and January 5, 2016, the three kiosks had a total of 963 play, and within the first week of putting up these kiosks we had about 20 handwritten responses! This has surpassed the interactions of all of the previous records for responses in a week (except maybe the kiosk outside of Square Café).

Listeners of the kiosks are prompted with the question displayed on the kiosk, “Has gender bias impacted your learning or career opportunities?” The majority of individuals have responded with personal stories of the discrimination they have faced or seen related to gender. Some of the longer responses are below. As an interesting aside, this is the first time response writers have self-identified their gender in a response.

We plan to put more kiosks up at CMU, and to transition our current kiosks displayed around Pittsburgh to feature these campaign stories in Spring 2016. If you aren’t near a kiosk, you can always write responses to the stories on our website (although you do need an account to comment). Additionally, you can sponsor a kiosks featuring stories from this project for $150.

We will be visiting more schools and organizations in January and February 2016. If you are interested in having Hear Me and the CMU volunteers visit your students, please contact Jess Kaminsky (jess@cmucreatelab.org).