Isabel Allaert

As a maker, you see and feel the world with a different pair of eyes. I believe that using this maker spirit within education and focus on project and process-based learning is the way forward.

Country of origin

Belgium

Which company do you work for?

Fyxxi – eduCentrum vzw

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Innovation in education

How long have you been in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s (STEM) fields?

I’ve been a maker my whole life 🙂 Work related: 10 years.

As a woman in a male dominated industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

During several meetings men kept addressing my male co-workers when asking questions instead of me. This was frustrating and rude, but most of the times it was a very typical cultural thing. So, I continued to answer while questions were asked to my co-worker.

What inspired you to join this industry?

Both my grandfathers had a workshop where we used to tinker. My mother is a programmer and an artist. My father has been working within IT for as long as I can remember. We had a computer at home when I was only 6. We even had internet before cable!

Combine this maker spirit with my work in adult education where I saw so many young school drop-outs because of the way school is organised with strict schedules and fields simply didn’t work for them, and it was clear as a glass of water: I needed to make education more attractive.

As a maker, you see and feel the world with a different pair of eyes. I believe that using this maker spirit within education and focus on project and process-based learning is the way forward.
I started to work in a fablab before arriving at Fyxxi. Within Fyxxi we combine everything: workshops linked to the curriculum and end terms set by the government, we train both students and teachers during school hours, and we give after school hours training and activities for everyone. Everyone is welcome to explore and make!

What changes, if any, have you seen in your field with regards to women in your field?

Thankfully, more and more girls are interested in joining our after-school hours activities. At the start it was mostly boys willing to play with robotics kits. For girls things need to have a more defined purpose, their intrinsic motivation to make the world a better place is what drives most of them. We support this by using social innovation goals within our maker space and set up projects to start rebuilding their communities with prototypes that might one day change the world. I have high hopes for the girls in our workshops!

How can we attract more women to consider a career in the STEM fields?

I had the chance to play with dinosaurs and grow as a maker from a very early age. Not everyone has the same opportunities or parents that are open to mixing up the pink and the blue and raise children in a non-typical gender-based way.

So I believe that the only way to attract more women to STEM fields is by implementing STEM in education from a very early age. This way we give every child the same background and step away from the gender-based hobbies step by step.

If you were to advise other young women starting their careers in the tech or within the STEM fields, what is the one thing you would say to them?

Do what drives you! Use your intrinsic motivation to make the world a better place. It will make you feel confident; and confidence is key to keep going forward.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

Drawing and photograph.
I also love to expand my knowledge through reading and watching series and films.
Puzzles always tempt me, so geocaching is a great way to spend a day off.
If I’m not at home I’m exploring the world with my dog Mysa and Nous and having a coffee along the way, with a book or pencil.

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