From a young age, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs. New research indicates the challenges that young girls face don’t lie in their lack of self-confidence or drive; rather the gaps often occur in the world around them. This is the year that Barbie, in collaboration with The TechnoGirl Trust, will work towards closing the gap between South African girls and their dreams, especially those aspiring to become the next generation of engineers, technologists and scientists.
Focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, and industries that have predominantly been male-dominated, this partnership will empower girls by entering them into job shadowing opportunities. The objective of this initiative is to provide access for girls to experience the world of work in a professional environment and therefore to develop insight, aspiration, as well as life skills, to better equip their career decision-making.
Barbie, as the original girl and women empowerment brand, has kicked off this year’s Dream Gap project in South Africa, offering participants the resources and support they need to continue to believe that they can be anything. The local partnership with The TechnoGirl Trust aligns with their mission of investing in youth development through ongoing and holistic support. By collaborating with partners to empower women and girls, to better equip them for entry into Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics career fields, Barbie and The TechnoGirl Trust are entering into a long-term partnership which will unfold over the next few years, to change the lives of girl children in South Africa for the better.
“Progress has been made toward gender equality, however, stereotypes and societal biases still exist that can affect a girl’s trajectory and future choices. The Barbie Dream Gap Project, which was started in 2019, is a global mission dedicated to closing the gap by challenging gender stereotypes and helping undo the biases that hold girls back from reaching their full potential,” Says Terusha Naidoo, Barbie Marketing Manager for South Africa.
According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2022, less than 13% of women choose STEM careers. “Our job shadowing programme has been designed on the understanding that exposure to the public and private sector workplaces can significantly contribute towards motivating girls to take up STEM careers that are in demand and where women are under-represented,” says Ms Staff Sithole, chief executive at TechnoGirl Trust.
“Since 2005, TechnoGirl, through our job shadowing programme, has enabled girls to experience STEM careers and ultimately, make informed career choices. In collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Department of Basic Education, to date, TechnoGirl has seen over 26 000 girls go through the structured programme and, on average, 75% of the beneficiaries advance to register for STEM careers,,” adds Sithole.
As efforts by the TechnoGirl Trust have begun to identify girls for the Dream Gap Project in South Africa, the first intake will happen in March 2024, when the first cohort of Grade 9 girls will start their journey in the TechnoGirl job shadowing programme. TechnoGirl Trust will work closely with the Department of Basic Education Districts and Schools, host companies, and Barbie while implementing the established and structured programme set out by them. Girls will experience the impactful, life-changing benefits of the programme, across the 4 years that they are part of it.
About TechnoGirl Trust
TechnoGirl is an innovative programme for girls and young women who show an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Conceptualised in 2004 by founding partner Uweso Consulting in collaboration with UNICEF and the Department of Basic Education. The strategic imperative of the TechnoGirl Programme is to narrow the discrepancy in opportunities that still exist between men and women and impede social and economic transformation.
TechnoGirl enables girls to experience STEM careers and ultimately, make informed career choices. To date, over 26000 girls have gone through the structured programme and, on average, 75% of the beneficiaries advance to register STEM careers. The programme is premised on the understanding that exposure to the public and private sector workplaces can significantly contribute towards motivating girls to take up STEM careers that are in demand and where women are under-represented.
We endeavour to share the transformation burden with corporates, by collaborating with them to produce girls who are better equipped for entry into STEM careers. This will lead to sustained employment opportunities and, in so doing, the cycle of poverty for girls participating in the programme can be broken.
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Till next time...Aashish
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