While the United States may be a global leader in science and technology, it is far from the only nation focused on getting more girls into STEM. Even developing countries are starting to realize that women are vital to meeting the growing demand in STEM-related fields.
As a result, nations across the globe are implementing innovative STEM programs aimed at empowering young women and girls. From robot competitions to coding bootcamps, here are programs from all over the world that are helping girls ignite their passion in STEM:
China, Thailand, Korea and other East Asian countries have long had a reputation for technological growth and development. When it comes to women in STEM, China is outpacing everyone—including the United States.
According to a report by International Innovation, China’s workforce is made up of approximately 40 percent women. In the United States, only 25 percent of women make up the workforce.
While there are many possible reasons for this, China’s support for STEM programs plays a huge part in their better outlook for girls in STEM. One such program is Samsung STEM Girls, which is led by the China Women’s Development Foundation and Samsung China.
The program focuses on teaching “soft skills” which help girls become more confident and innovative leaders. In addition to hands-on workshops and direct tutoring, the program gives 1,000 lucky girls in China the opportunity to meet Nobel Prize winners, among other pioneers in high-tech industries.
The Middle East may not be known for its gender equality, but women in the Arab world are enrolling in STEM fields at remarkable rates. In fact, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are the only three countries in the world where boys are less comfortable with maththan girls.
Countries in the Middle East are making enormous strides in bridging the gap between men and women in STEM. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia and GE partnered to offer a 12-week mentoring program to female students majoring in STEM-related subjects as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative.
In Israel, championing girls in STEM is a priority. While the country may rule the world of cybersecurity, the country has an underrepresentation of women in this industry.
To combat this growing problem, Israel launched CyberGirlz, an online community of teenage girls who are interested in pursuing tech careers. Female university students and engineers are also part of the community, offering professional support and guidance for the girls.
It’s important to note that the community isn’t based solely online. The program regularly involves in-person workshops, hackathons and summer events to foster a supportive network for girls in tech. This support network is vital to helping girls pursue STEM careers.
As a female leader of a company that manufacturers plastic enclosures for electronics,I know just how difficult it can be to carve out a path in a male-dominated industry. Without a strong support system like the one CyberGirlz provides its community members, it’s not uncommon for young women to lose confidence and drop out of their programs.
South Asian countries such as Nepal, India and Sri Lanka are also pushing for more women in STEM.
In Nepal, there are multiple workshops and programs dedicated to empowering girls in STEM. For instance, a three-day workshop called “Udeshya: Girls in STEM” is hosted by Teach for Nepal with the goal of helping girls have access to STEM education.
In India, it’s difficult enough to inspire young girls with the means to pursue an education in STEM, let alone underprivileged girls. However, that’s exactly what sisters Aditi and Deepti Suchindran are doing.
Inspired by Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code (youth coding programs in the U.S.), the two siblings launched Indian Girls Code, a free program that inspires young girls in India to code and solve real-world problems.
An extension of Robotix Learning Solutions, the program teaches underprivileged Indian girls how to code using hands-on tools such as Scratch. By inspiring girls to become young innovators, the program hopes to shatter the stereotype that only boys are interested in robotics.
Africa has a slew of STEM programs designed to equip young girls for the future. Perhaps most notable are the programs offered by the WAAW Foundation.
The WAAW Foundation, which stands for Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women, offers 13 STEM outreach and mentoring programs across eight different countries in Africa.
WAAW offers programs that support girls and women. These programs include code workshops for girls, summer STEM camps, a STEM outreach program and a STEM secondary education training program.
Training women on how to teach STEM topics is vital to getting young people excited about STEM subjects. By promoting STEM education, WAAW is paving a bright future for Africa.
Women in STEM are grossly underrepresented in Western European countries such as Denmark, Germany, Finland, France and Spain. To fulfill the growing demand for people with technical skills, many of these countries have created programs dedicated to girls in STEM.
With close relations to the United States, many European countries rely on U.S. programs such as DigiGirlz, Women in Technology and Girls in Tech, which each have local chapters dedicated to helping young women advance in their STEM careers. However, the UK boasts their own programs which inspire and support girls in STEM.
Stemettes, a London-based enterprise, offers valuable one-on-one mentoring to girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe. The organization also features panel events, hackathons, meet-and-greets, networking opportunities and much more.
The United States and Canada are also pushing for female participation in STEM. Girls Who Code, based in the United States, is one of the more popular programs in North America.
On a mission to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027, this innovative organization offers targeted learning opportunities to girls and young women.
To expand their reach, the nonprofit is partnering with organizations such as our sister organization, Intelitek STEM & CTE Education Foundation (ISCEF). This partnership provides girls with access to CoderZ, our innovative online learning tool which teaches girls how to code virtual 3D robots.
Canada has also become a strong leader in STEM fields and is hoping to bring more female engineers into the workforce. To accomplish this, organizations such as Actua (Canada’s largest STEM outreach organization) have developed their own programs aimed at sparking girls’ interest in science and technology.
Actua’s National Girls Program is perhaps the most well-known Canadian STEM program for girls and engages 10,000 girls annually in their programs. In addition to special boot camps, workshops, conferences and special events, the program also offers critical mentorships and role models for girls to develop their confidence in STEM.
The lack of women in STEM-related subjects is a problem not only in the West, but across the entire world. When half of a nation’s potential workforce is excluded from STEM professions, there is going to be a significant shortage of workers in these essential fields.
While the gender gap may be closing slowly, it is closing all the same. With these innovative programs empowering women to pursue STEM professions, we will hopefully see an even greater representation of women and minorities in STEM.
About the author
Kate Began serves as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Polycase.
Kate oversees the customer service representatives, assists with product development and leads the marketing efforts from the Avon, Ohio headquarters.