STEM4Girls initiative strikes a chord with the girls at the grassroot level, gently ushering them into the world of STEM with a laboratory coat on their back and a pair of safety glasses on their eyes and nudges them to dream big, a right that girls must reclaim! Year-on-year, Covestro India, in partnership with ChandraMohan Foundation and Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, is reaching out to young girl students (Grade 8 onwards) through the #STEM4Girls campaign. Covestro aims to help create a brighter future by challenging the socio-cultural statusquo and paving the way for gender inclusivity - one girl student at a time.
A December 2016 factsheet by UNESCO Institute of Statistics states that India has only 14.3% women science researchers. In fact, only 1 in 4 women globally take up STEM as a career path. That speaks volumes about the compelling need for nurturing women to take up science-related careers. If we probe deeper into the issue, two things stand out. Socio-cultural beliefs which act as barriers when women step out of their domestic chores, and a definite lack of conviction in their own abilities.
At Covestro, we believe in creating equal opportunities for everyone in order to walk towards a brighter future. With this idea, #STEM4Girls campaign was conceived by Covestro India. It has a two-pronged approach. The first half of the daylong workshop entails an accomplished woman in STEM addressing the girls about her area of work, the opportunities within STEM and her own life journey covering socio-economic aspects. Through these talks, the girl students learn about a world of opportunity through these talks and more importantly, they receive a message that it is possible to build a STEM career, irrespective of their economic background or social conditioning.
The second half is aimed at instilling confidence and alleviating fear of STEM among girl students. This session is aimed at application-based explorative learning, wherein, each participant gets a hands-on experiment kit, which they carry out under the guidance of the volunteers. Typically, they also have a takeaway from this experiment. Doing these experiments on their own (in most cases, a first-in-life) boosts their self-esteem and a sense of “I can do it too” develops.
The #STEM4Girls campaign is also aligned with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ mission by The Government of India dedicated for empowerment of the girl child. Covestro India hopes that thousands of girls across socio-economic levels and cultural spectra will be inspired to push their boundaries in order to pursue a career in STEM.