We are done with talking about barriers to success, now it is time for action.”
Ivie Evbuomwan, 2018 Hidden No More alumna from Nigeria
Inspired by the film Hidden Figures, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) launched the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) #HiddenNoMore: Empowering Women Leaders in STEM (Hidden No More) initiative in 2017. This exchange initiative addresses the barriers to advancement that women face in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, while highlighting the importance of storytelling and creating a network of women leaders. From October 24 to November 11, 2022, 41 women leaders from around the world visited diverse communities across the United States and engaged with American professional counterparts on the evolution and advancement of women in STEM and how to accelerate student learning in STEM subjects, especially for girls from diverse backgrounds.
To kick off the 2022 Hidden No More exchange, the participants convened in Washington, D.C., and were treated to a heartwarming welcome video from the 2019 Hidden No More alumnae – their “sisters in STEM.” The D.C. schedule continued with meetings featuring stellar collaborators who are committed to empowering women and girls in STEM fields, including National Geographic, the National Academies of Science and Medicine (NASEM), and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL).
Following the D.C. program, the participants divided into smaller groups and traveled to Huntsville, Alabama; Orlando, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; St. Petersburg, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; Durham, North Carolina; and Charleston, South Carolina to connect with leading scientists, technology leaders, teachers, and STEM advocates. During their time in these cities, the participants engaged with fellow professionals at science hubs like Northwestern University and Fermilab and were provided with opportunities to share their stories with local American communities. These speaking events revealed the difficulties these women faced throughout their career journeys and highlighted their remarkable ambition and drive. Finally, the group reunited in Los Angeles, California, for more professional meetings, intra-group sessions, and a visit to Walt Disney Studios, a key supporter of Hidden No More.
An invaluable outcome of the Hidden No More initiative is the development and expansion of a supportive, global sisterhood of women leaders in STEM. While visiting the MIT Energy Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, the 2022 Hidden No More group had the chance to meet Rameen Malik, a 2019 Hidden No More alumna from Australia. During the visit, Rameen shared with the group how this exchange experience changed her life and led her to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to study at MIT. She wished this year’s participants well on their program and encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them.
In addition to achieving noteworthy accomplishments, alumnae of the Hidden No More initiative also continue to promote gender equality in STEM fields. Since her participation in the Hidden No More IVLP in 2017, Dr. Jessica Wade has received significant media recognition for her continued efforts to create Wikipedia entries that recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in STEM. She has created over 1,750 entries so far and enables others to do the same through Wikipedia training workshops.
As one of ECA’s most transformative initiatives, Hidden No More will continue to change the lives of women through meaningful conversations and empowering interactions. This initiative provides women participants of all ages a safe space to discuss the highs and lows of being a woman working in a STEM field. It also supports the Department of State’s strategic goal of enhancing economic growth through the contributions of women. The United States’ investment in the participation of women and girls in STEM is critical to achieving U.S. foreign policy goals in advancing women’s global economic participation and preparing the next generation of women leaders.
To learn more about the Hidden No More initiative and the International Visitor Leadership Program, visit https://eca.state.gov/ivlp and follow the initiative on Facebook or Twitter using #HiddenNoMore.