Last week, littleBits Founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir (a huge proponent of getting more girls in STEM) participated in a conference by the World Bank on “Disrupting the Gender Divide” alongside representatives from Facebook, Google, and Stanford University.
Panel participants, from left to right: Ceyla Pazarbasioglu (World Bank), Anjali Joshi (Google), Lori Nishiura Mackenzie (Stanford University), Victoria Grand (Facebook), Ayah Bdeir (littleBits)
The question posed to this forward-thinking group of women was an important one: Why are women rarely at the core of a company’s strategy when globally, they control nearly two-thirds of the total overall consumer spending?
This was Ayah’s hypothesis:
- Women are rarely at the core of a company’s strategy because women are rarely in leadership positions at these companies. This is far worse for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) based companies.
- Women are rarely in leadership positions at STEM-related companies because there is an abysmally low number of women in these fields.
- There are an abysmally low number of women in STEM fields because girls lose interest in STEM fields starting at age eight.
- Girls in STEM are not common because girls start losing interest in STEM fields starting at age eight. Very few STEM products, shows, and technologies are designed with girls in mind.
- Very few STEM products, shows, and technologies are designed with girls in mind because women are rarely in leadership positions of STEM-related companies.
To change the outcome and get more girls in STEM, Ayah urged participants and listeners to break the cycle.
Let’s Celebrate International Day of the Girl
What better day to talk about getting girls involved in STEM from an early age than today? The United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child back in 2011. The day is meant to “help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
Getting more girls in STEM is an important goal for Day of the Girl-US, a youth-led movement fighting for gender justice and youth rights as part of International Day of the Girl Child. Below are some tips — taken directly from the site — on how to get more girls involved in this cause.
- The only way to make a change is to BE the change. Don’t be afraid to sign up for classes in STEM areas, even if they are primarily made up of boys!
- Try joining some clubs at school that involve these STEM areas, such as math team, robotics, science bowl, etc. Find other girls who share your interests, and encourage them to participate with you. If you can’t seem to find a club that’s the right fit, try making your own!
- Contact the administration at your school and see if they will assist you in encouraging girls to get involved in STEM.
- Contact any local organizations supporting girls/women in STEM and see how you can work with them to make a change.
From Ayah, from Day of the Girl-US, and from all of us at littleBits: let’s break the cycle! What can you do, today, to get more girls involved in STEM? Share your thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.