It’s no secret that girls and women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Still today, there are significant barriers for girls who want to pursue STEM-based careers or fields of study. Even though 81% of girls think being given an equal education in STEM as boys is important, less than 50% feel they actually share that equal access. In fact, only 1 in 3 of all students enrolled in STEM-related degrees globally are female.

That’s why one of the goals of the WiSci Girls STEAM Camps–made possible due to a partnership between Girl Up, the U.S. Department of State, Intel, and the Caterpillar Foundation–is to make STEAM-based opportunities more accessible to girls worldwide.

At WiSci Southeast Asia, more than 70 girls from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines united virtually and in person to ideate tangible ways they can bridge the gender gap and make a positive global impact in the world of STEAM. By participating in skills-based activities and connecting with successful female mentors from the industry, WiSci campers discovered how they can personally use STEM for Social Good to advocate for gender justice worldwide. 

But, why is giving equal opportunities to girls and boys in STEAM so important? For WiSci Southeast Asia Counselor Nadya, it’s innovation. “Innovation comes from everyone. It is only fair to give everyone the opportunity to pursue their passion, their goals, their dreams because through that opportunity, everyone can learn and everyone can grow. Then they can be someone who innovates, who solves problems in this world. That someone can be boys and it can be girls.” 

Yet, that’s not the only reason. Hear from more of our WiSci Southeast Asia participants as they uncover the power and potential of girls in STEAM:

Throughout the six-day program, these passionate changemakers brainstormed creative (yet actionable!) solutions to issues in their local communities. During specialized leadership trainings, they also discussed ways they can not only break gender-based barriers and dismantle negative stereotypes by themselves but also inspire their fellow youth leaders to take action and help them change the world for future generations of female STEAM enthusiasts too. “WiSci is definitely a safe space for women to explore themselves, learn about something new, and feel more confident,” explained WiSci Southeast Asia camper Karin.

Before these bold, young STEMinists headed home equipped with newfound resources, supportive friendships, and exciting plans for progress, they shared the lessons they’ve learned and the future they’ll be building together after their memorable WiSci Southeast Asia experience:

This world is full of opportunities and we can be part of the change, the one who opens doors for everyone else, even at such a young age. Throughout the camp, there were so many young women from all around the world who are already making such impactful work…It really inspired me to do more and to be courageous in pursuing my dream.

Nadya, ac itb

I’ve learned a lot about leadership. [The activities] made me reflect a lot on myself and I got to know a lot more about myself—what I should improve and what I should keep maintaining.

Varsha, ac kedah

Fail forward. In the past I’ve been quite afraid to make mistakes, but recently—through WiSci—I learned that making mistakes is okay as long as you keep on moving.

Samantha, AC Bacolod

I grew a lot because of WiSci. I [now] see a better day tomorrow…and it helped me to become who I will be in the future.

denise, ac davao

I hope this camp will be able to improve the STEM field by helping and encouraging more young women to enter the STEM workforce.

Nuri, AC its

That’s a wrap on WiSci Southeast Asia! Thanks for reading along each week during our three-part blog series! In case you missed the previous installments, you can catch Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Make sure to check out our website for more information about Girl Up’s WiSci Girls STEAM Camps and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & TikTok to find out when the next WiSci Camp will be (and if it’ll be headed to a country near YOU)!

A final special thanks to all of our incredible partners–the U.S. Department of State, Intel, Caterpillar Foundation, and the American Corners supported by the U.S. embassies in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia–for their generous support in making this WiSci camp possible and joining Girl Up in our commitment to achieve gender parity in STEAM. 

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