Appreciation for the Maintainers

A quote often attributed to Gloria Steinem says: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” Maker culture, with its goal to get everyone access to the traditionally male domain of making, has focused on the first. But its success means that it further devalues the traditionally female domain of caregiving, by continuing to enforce the idea that only making things is valuable. Rather, I want to see us recognize the work of the educators, those that analyze and characterize and critique, everyone who fixes things, all the other people who do valuable work with and for others—above all, the caregivers—whose work isn’t about something you can put in a box and sell.

Why I Am Not a Maker – Debbie Chachra

I resonated with this quote because I related to every single word that was written in it. It spoke to the years and years of me trying to be more like my male peers in STEM, feeling like an outsider, and slowly learning to define my own version of success in this field. Am I an engineer? It seems like only a few women appear in the headlines for their brilliant inventions (that are in fact, truthful), and this lack of representation for a while translated to my misconception that women cannot be original or creative. But really, fields like education or the humanities where many women flourish rarely get their due attention (or funding) when it is no less than that those that get the most spotlight. I was wrong about not just the thought that women are less creative, but also that I was taking these maintainers of what we do for granted.

Teachers–the world doesn’t run without them. Fixers of things, whatever they might be, are essential when the seemingly most perfect things, inevitably break down. Yes of course, we need makers to keep advancing the technology that benefits the society, but sometimes what we need is not something new, but a better version of what we already have. So instead of demanding that everybody become a maker to prove their worth, we should ask the harder questions of how do we allow everyone to manifest into the best versions of themselves, without thinking about wage gaps, their own identities, or social stigmas.

If we as a society collectively agree that the humanities and other maintaining industries is just as important as shining new technology, that is, tangibly, by resolving the wage gaps between these occupations, I can only imagine that so many people will finally feel comfortable enough to flock to what they are genuinely passionate about. But this won’t happen overnight. And just as we are told that making industries will set us free, we should be told that the humanities is the future. This way, we can slowly move towards a consensus where everyone feels more satisfied with their own lives and people like me don’t have to constantly second guess our own identities for the sake of ourselves.

This term, I am most excited to learn about the applications of digital media in the context of historical research/exhibit. I want to learn how to create novel experiences for the scholars/viewers to immerse themselves in history from a closer angle.


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