image of school girls smiling and holding up certificates

Inspire Girls Provides Female Role Models to Inspire Girls

September 3, 2020

True to its name, the Inspire Girls project is undergoing changes to better inspire girls interested in pursuing STEM careers.

According to a 2017 report from the US Department of Commerce, women consist of only 24% of those employed in US STEM occupations. This number decreases substantially for women in developing nations. Recognizing this, WCE has spent the past few years developing the Inspire Girls project, which aims to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers. 

Recently, however, WCE has recognized a need to develop more engaging Inspire Girls resources. It realizes that inspiration derives not just from knowledge, but also representation, especially for girls who do not otherwise have role models.

Thus, over the past few months, WCE has expanded its Inspire Girls content to align with this vision. These changes are being implemented on two fronts: third-party content and WCE-produced content.

Sahana Gopalan is a WCE intern who has spent the past few months working on the Inspire Girls project. To complement pre-existing educational resources, she compiled 20 TED Talk videos by women in developing countries focused on education, entrepreneurship, environment, justice, and identity.

“In the past, Inspire Girls content has mostly included health and education resources,” Gopalan said, “but now we’re trying to add segments related to role models and women who serve as leaders in their communities.”

In addition to external videos and documents focused on empowerment, WCE is also producing its own videos showing female role models.

WCE intern Fatoumata Sall is managing the Inspire Girls project. She is spearheading the initiative to create videos of females in technology in collaboration with IT specialist and WCE-Los Angeles Coordinator Dominic Koletes. Together, they have created reference documents and videos to show potential volunteers how to film themselves while sharing their career experiences.

“The purpose of these materials are just to give a framework or example to the women who are generously taking their time to inspire girls,” Sall said. “I truly believe that these women, through the Inspire Girls video, will add a lot of value to the girls, who are the future.”

WCE board member Ayesha Hassan, who has over 20 years of experience in Internet and technology, has been instrumental in the search for volunteers for these videos. Having a personal interest in this project, Ayesha has reached out to other women in the tech industry asking them to participate in the project.

“They are excited about sharing their experience about how they got to where they are in technology, so other young women can learn about the path,” Ayesha said. “They come from a range of cultural backgrounds, so they get the fact that, in certain cultures, girls may not be given the opportunities boys would.”

Ayesha recognizes the importance of role models, as she had many mentors over her career. By aiding the development of this project, she wants girls to recognize that there are women out there who understand their struggles and can help them grow. Ultimately, they want to inspire girls to continue their education and expand their opportunities in technology fields.

“STEAM is something that girls are often not encouraged to pursue, but there are so many dimensions to this field,” Ayesha said. “It’s not just about being an engineer; it’s also about being a creative person. STEAM is the future, but it’s also the today.”

Read more about WCE’s Inspire Girls project here.