WiSci: Girls STEAM Camp
THE CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY
A strong gender imbalance exists internationally in regards to women’s presence in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The need to address this imbalance sparked the birth of WiSci (Women in Science) STEAM Camp.
The goal of the camp is to empower young women with the knowledge and skillsets to be competitive with their male counterparts during a time of rapid, technological development, providing them with access to high-tech resources, like-minded peers, impactful business connections and inspiring mentors.
HISTORY OF WISCI
In 2015, the first WiSci Girls STEAM Camp brought together a diverse group of 30 female, U.S. high school students and 90 African students from 8 African countries for an opportunity to explore the STEAM fields through a hands-on curriculum taught by real-world practitioners in Rwanda. 2015 WiSci partners included the U.S. Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika, Intel, AOL Charitable Foundation, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, with support from Meridian International Center, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the African Leadership Academy, UNESCO and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
Building on the success of WiSci 2015, a second camp was held in 2016, but this time, in Peru. Girls from the U.S., Mexico, Chile and Peru learned from industry leaders in the areas of coding and app development, engineering and robotics, and sustainable development. They also participated in sessions on design-thinking, marketing, advocacy and leadership development, with additional opportunities for cultural exchange and mentorship. 2016’s camp was a public-private partnership effort between the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, Google, Intel Corporation, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and other partners. The camp was also part of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) initiative to enhance women’s participation and advancement in the STEM fields.
In an effort to promote gender equality in the classroom, specifically in the tech fields, WiSci Girls STEAM camp, returned to Africa and was held in Malawi in Summer 2017. As with the two prior WiSci camps, #WiSci2017 brought together high school girls from across various countries within a region to learn science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and mathematics (STEAM) skills and provided them with the encouragement, community, and confidence to pursue career paths in STEAM. Participants came from Malawi, other countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States. For 2017, WiSci campers learned how technology can be used to make a safer, more secure world, particularly regarding gender-based violence.
#WiSci2018 / #WiSciNamibia / #WiSciGeorgia
The 2018 WiSci Girls STEAM Camp Namibia was held for nearly two weeks from June 17-29, 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia. The camp brought together 100 high school girls from the African continent (Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland) and the United States. The 2018 WiSci Girls STEAM Camp Georgia was held for two weeks from August 12-25, 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The camp brought together 100 high school girls from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the United States. Both camps enhanced campers’ STEAM skills, crafted their leadership potential, and built camaraderie and networks to propel them to new opportunities. They developed mobile applications, increased their coding skills, learned about microbiology and more.
THE INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE
Partnering together, we can address gender inequality at the high school level at the crux of making important career and college education decisions. It is also imperative to ensure these young women and their home communities continue to benefit after the summer camp is over. The program includes components to encourage them to continue studies and careers in STEAM fields, and empower them to start projects, activities, and science camps at school, and seek further mentorship and networking opportunities.