from the desk of girltank Cofounder, Sejal Hathi:
I believe that all girls are a powerful movement: a brilliant and unstoppable force that can solve even the world’s most intractable challenges, if only they are granted the tools and opportunity. For five years, I have worked to empower this movement, by founding two organizations, Girls Helping Girls and now girltank, to equip girls globally with the training, mentorship, and support networks to create sustainable social change. We have partnered with thousands of young women, from 104 countries, working to sculpt a better world. And the tenacity and enterprise of these budding changemakers never cease to inspire me. Yet too often, from Brooklyn to Accra, these same young women struggle to translate their intent to action. They advance promising ideas, but critically lack the technical training and support to build out their own visions.
I am a young woman social entrepreneur, and I am worried. I am worried because I see thousands of girls fearing to engage creatively with technology, and technology is the language of social innovation. I am worried because I have heard my suitemate frequently report being the only girl in her advanced math classes, and this isolation often overwhelms her. I am worried because I know, the future of our world lies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.); but this world will look haplessly bleak, if girls are not vigorously supported to master the tools of its design.
The reasons for this situation are crisply clear: Today’s innovators in the realms of technology, business, science, enterprise—in the public as well as the private sector— are overwhelmingly men. We live within a global culture that has institutionalized and apotheosized the male innovator, while rarely recognizing the female. Though girls are just as brilliant, capable, visionary as boys, when faced with few role models, even those girls who dream of designing the future, like my suitemate, can feel isolated and unsure.
This is why now more than ever it is vital that girls intrigued by S.T.E.M. be supported, encouraged, and celebrated—that we rebrand S.T.E.M. as a woman’s field, too, and demonstrate that every girl has the power to be the next Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, or Jane Goodall. With the launch of its For Girls in Science initiative, L’Oréal USA is leading just this charge. In www.forgirlsinscience.org, L’Oréal USA has created a vibrant new platform for inspiring and empowering girls to pursue careers in S.T.E.M. Featuring everything from videos of women scientists on the job and facts on famous women in S.T.E.M., to a career personality quiz, career opportunities in S.T.E.M. fields, and summer and weekend camps, the website serves up science, technology, engineering and math in a way that is engaging, interactive, and cool. The platform beautifully gathers all the S.T.E.M. resources, support, role models for girls in one, central location, and I am thrilled to partner with L’Oréal to highlight and share it with and for girls.
In celebration of its launch, L’Oréal USA’s For Girls In Science program has organized a “Why S.T.E.M is Cool” video contest for students aged 13 to 18, to produce and upload their most original, engaging, funny or compelling videos expressing why S.T.E.M is cool. Students can submit their video in one of four categories: science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and become eligible to win one of several prizes once they do. The contest is a fun way for girls everywhere to learn more about S.T.E.M. fields and join the movement to change the gender ratio in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
With L’Oreal’s vision and the efforts of thousands of girls themselves, it seems the world is finally wakening to the power and potential of girls in S.T.E.M. The days of my worrying, at last, seem numbered.