March 8th marks International Women’s Day, where people from all over "Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality."
This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, a call to action to:
"Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women's equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias."
Why does gender equality matter?
Because look at the statement immediately above.
Many of us might not even fully recognize an imbalance exists until we put ourselves into the above situations. Look across the boardroom—how many women do you see? Listen to the next big game on TV—how many female voices do you hear?
It matters because the world we experience through work, business, school, and entertainment should reflect the diversity of which this world is composed.
(Women only earn 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees in the US, despite the fact that half the population is female. See more STEM education stats here.)
What can be done?
At iD Tech, we acknowledge this pervasive gender gap in STEM, and have long been dedicated to creating inclusive learning environments that bring out the best in both girls and boys. Remember, iD Tech was founded by two Silicon Valley women in 1999: mother and daughter duo Kathryn Ingram and Alexa Ingram-Cauchi.
Over 60% of our iD Tech year-round workforce is female. They are technical spec writers, QA testers, product designers, project managers, videographers, web developers, graphic designers, and more. They’re experts in everything from coding for kids to game development and design.
Since our inception, we’ve continually made a point to run awesome programs that are welcoming of both genders. We know that the female perspective is vital, and getting more girls in STEM is beyond important. Our goal is to help balance the scales by inspiring girls to dream BIG.
Such success is largely due to our stellar instructors—they're inspirational mentors, motivators, and friends to girls across the nation.
It's from them we take cues on how to inspire, motivate, and encourage more girls to get into STEM.
All in all, we’ve embarked on quite the challenge; a challenge that requires every single organization to actively strive for change.
So, start by asking yourself, what would it mean to have women, especially women of color, equally represented in the tech industry? In government? As world leaders? What would be different?
What the results could look like...
The importance of empowerment programs for girls can't be overstated, and the benefits of getting more girls into STEM can’t be contained in a single blog post—but think about increased diversity in your pools of engineers, developers, and scientists.
Then, think about the impact this new landscape could have in creating a wider-reaching lineup of products, services, and solutions that reflect the needs of the world’s entire population, and not just half of it.
And then, finally, think about the creation of role-models and the cycle we would be setting into motion: more women in the workforce doing cool and important things in STEM means that younger girls now have more, and more relatable, professionals to look up to, and to strive to be.
New perspectives, ideas, and voices—the cycle goes on and on until we have reached true parity.
So how do we get there?
How do you inspire girls to get into STEM?
We have covered this question a lot, and many of the answers overlap with how we address getting any child interested in STEM. STEM toys, the alignment of STEM with existing interests, enrollment in summer and online opportunities, etc. Here are just a few great ways to inspire girls in STEM:
- Shatter stereotypes and instill confidence
- Surround girls with others who have STEM experience
- Cultivate an environment for creativity
- Unlock the power of collaboration
- Combine tech with passion projects
- Encourage girls to follow their dreams
- Keep the momentum going
With the return of our in-person Alexa Café programs for Summer 2022, the amazing young women who’ve attended them remain a source of inspiration and purpose for us. They are our “why,” and we’re determined to develop programs that provide an outlet for their brilliance.
With that, let’s jump in:
1. Shatter stereotypes and instill self-confidence
The days of associating all things techie with boys are long gone.
A great way to do this is to connect girls with mentors who personify the traits (confidence, boldness, thoughtfulness) and possess the skills (technical knowledge, teamwork, leadership, entrepreneurship) your daughter will need to succeed in fields like software engineering, video game design, YouTube streaming, and more. Our instructors show girls what it entails to be a strong, successful woman in tech in 2021.
For more stereotype-shattering inspiration, here are some quotes about girl power from powerful, game-changing women:
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” –Oprah Winfrey
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.” –Louisa May Alcott
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” –Michelle Obama
"What I've learned from myself is that I don't have to be anybody else. Myself is good enough." -Lupita Nyong'o
"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud." -Coco Chanel
"When a door closes, you have two choices: give up or keep going. Let them shut you down, or prove them wrong. We all start somewhere; it's where you end up that counts." -Rihanna
"If you don't see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it yourself." -Mindy Kaling
"Don't allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses." -Lady Gaga
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Surround girls with those who have industry experience
Many of our instructors are STEM majors or graduates who work in fields like computer science, graphic design, game development, and more. They know what it's like to pursue a technical degree and can share insider tips and other information about majors and careers of interest.
3. Cultivate an environment for creativity
From the fresh, inviting atmosphere to the unique, fun, and tech-savvy staff, our programs provide an experience that's unlike anything else.
Whether your daughter is taking a course in coding, game design, or 3D printing, our instructors will emphasize the importance of design and how they can be used to enhance the awesome technical aspects of a project. They know that projects should function perfectly and look awesome!
4. Unlock the power of collaboration
Teamwork can take a project to a whole new level! Our Tech Rockstars are experts when it comes to helping girls communicate their ideas and collaborate in small clusters. When girls learn to rely on one another for troubleshooting, problem-solving, and extra inspiration, there's no end to what they can achieve.
5. Combine tech with passion projects
One of the main things that sets iD Tech apart from other tech programs is the emphasis on authentic, project-based learning. Instructors can encourage students to dig deep as they brainstorm project ideas in order to determine how they can use technology to make a positive impact.
We've found that combining tech with important causes, hobbies, and other areas of interest resonates with many girls, allowing them to see the broader impacts of their efforts while holding their interest.
6. Keep the momentum going
If your daughter attended camp in the past, don't be surprised if she sees some friendly, familiar faces at camp again or even online. Often times, instructors return summer after summer to help returning students further develop their talents and dive deeper into the exciting world of tech. Now that students can learn year-round, kids can stay even more connected with a mentor who cares.
We hire staff members who are incredibly motivated to serve as mentors and help girls reach their full potential, and our retention rate is high.
7. Encourage girls to follow their dreams, and give them the tools to do so.
Our instructors work with us because they're passionate about STEM, possess awesome technical ability, and genuinely love empowering the younger generation to dream and achieve BIG.
With the right combination of tech skills, style, humor, social awareness, inspiration, and friendship, our instructors can show girls that anything is possible and that any college and career aspirations are within reach.