There is a lot of talk around the importance of getting women into STEM, we love that.
But there is also a lot of empty talk on how to make it happen, we don’t like that.
At littleBits, we are action-oriented, and so today, we are launching our most ambitious program to close the gender gap in STEM starting with 10 year old girls: Snap the Gap.
We are starting with a year-one pilot in California, but our goal is to reach every 10-year-old girl in America, and eventually the world.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs are experiencing five times faster growth than other types of roles -- and they garner 30 percent higher wages. Yet, women are not participating in STEM careers at the same rates as men, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to earning equal pay. In 25 years, the problem has largely stayed the same -- and it is even worse for girls from low-resourced urban or rural communities.
We believe we have to start early, but also, and more importantly, support girls throughout their journey.
For the past seven years, at littleBits we have been capturing girls’ interest in STEM, and we have been collecting insights on how to propel their interests further and create a support system to help them withstand cultural and systemic forces they may encounter.
Snap the Gap: Let’s do this!
Today, the littleBits team is thrilled to introduce a new program called Snap the Gap. Snap the Gap is an action-oriented program that uses three proven components to impact the gender gap: hands-on learning, a peer community, and mentorship.
- Hands-on Learning: Girls who participate in hands on learning activities are 40 percent more likely to know the jobs that are possible through STEM. Participating girls will receive a uniquely branded littleBits kit encouraging them to learn through physical play, turn their ideas into inventions, and solve problems they care about.
- Immersion in a Safe Community of Inventors: Girls will be enrolled for one year into JAM.com, the largest paid subscription course platform for kids. This is a safe space for girls to feel as though they belong and meet like-minded peers with whom they can invent and share their work.
- Mentorship: Girls who have mentors are 2.5 times more likely to be confident in their ability to succeed in school and careers. That’s why UC Davis and CA Million Women Mentors will pair girls with mentors and provide technical assistance to mentors and site coordinators to allow girls to experience a deeper level of engagement while growing a strong STEM identity.
We are grateful to be working with the Walt Disney Company, who in funding this initiative, valued at $4M.
“We have a history of successful collaboration with littleBits, pairing our beloved characters and stories with imaginative, interactive technology to inspire children, especially girls, to embrace and explore the power and possibilities of STEM,” said Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “With Ayah’s passion and her company’s innovative approach to education through play, we believe littleBits is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in STEM. Disney is proud to support this groundbreaking effort to create new and engaging opportunities for girls to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”
Together with The Walt Disney Company, University of California Davis, and Million Women Mentors, littleBits will donate 15,000 STEAM Starter Packs in the first year of the program.
After the first-year pilot, Snap the Gap intends to add five new states to its efforts, reaching all 50 of the United States in 10 years. There are roughly 2 million 10-year-old girls in the United States, and at its peak, Snap the Gap intends to reach every single one of them.
Interested in becoming a mentor? Let us know here.
Are you a parent, after school program, or organization interested in bringing Snap The Gap to your community? Let’s collaborate!Are you a company or organization interested in investing in girls or STEM? Partner with us.