Girls Garage: Where Emily Pilloton Is Cultivating A Community Of ‘Fearless Builder Girls’

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GirlsGood Causes 2 Comments

Meet Emily Pilloton. She’s a designer, a builder, and the creator of Girls Garage, a super cool concept and space in West Berkeley, California that offers hands-on after-school programs, summer camps, and a full range of workshops designed to inspire girls and young women to… “Fear Less. Build More.”

Within the 3,600 sq. ft. Girls Garage, which includes a woodshop, metalshop, digital fabrication studio, and classroom, girls have learned “to build and ride their own skateboards, design board games, and construct new furniture for a local women’s shelter.” It’s math and it’s science; it’s creative and it’s technical; it’s where hardcore building meets social impact at a grassroots community level; and it’s run entirely by “talented, tenacious and full of fire women” who are all experts in their fields.

“I think that what we’re doing is changing who gets to make the world.” – Emily Pilloton

At the end of this month, the Girls Garage summer camp begins, which includes a series of intensive week-long sessions hosted by age group (women 21 and up, young women 13-17, and girls 9-13). Each is designed to challenge participants “to think creatively, use tools ranging from speed squares to a chop saw and welder, and work together as a community of Fearless Builder Girls.”

During the remainder of the year, Emily and her team offer 6-8 week long after-school sessions that focus on instruction in one skill area. Workshops in lock picking, jewelry making, welding, carpentry, bike repair, and more are also held on evenings and weekends for aspiring builders and makers of all ages, genders, and experience levels.

According to the site, “91% of girls say they leave Girls Garage feeling more confident and creative than when they came in” and “85% of girls say they are more interested in STEM fields after Girls Garage.”

Along with Studio H (in-school design/build class for 6th-12th grade students) and Unprofessional Development (teacher education initiative), Girls Garage is one of the three signature programs Emily runs through Project H Design, a nonprofit she launched in 2008 to “teach young people to design and build their future using heart, hands, and hammers.”

We could not love this more.

  • Rachel Scott

    Wonderful! I hope they can open another workshop in Florida or Puerto Rico.

  • I grew up using tools and thought nothing of it until a friend said she had to find a man to hang a picture. Then I realized that I was an anomaly. My daughters always used tools making folk art, building furniture, and school projects. When they did school projects, folks at school didn’t believe them. As a teen I was rejected from taking wood shop; imagine that.
    This pleases me immensely; I would like this across the country.

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