The world is facing a huge issue of gender imbalance in the field of IT, energy, and mechanical engineering. The girls are reluctant to choose IT as a profession due to a huge fear of staying unsuccessful. Moreover, our society still believes that there are such things as male and female jobs. The fear and stereotypes lead us towards the lack of female specialists in tech fields. Most high school girls do not opt for IT specialties when they reach a university. Sergey Tokarev, a Reface investor, aims to help female students get rid of their fear and combat these stereotypes.
The Reface investor initiated a program, STEM is FEM, to deal with the strong existing stereotypes in Ukrainian society almost a year and a half ago. There are only 15-30% women specialists in the STEM fields. At the global level, there is 30% of women’s participation in IT-related fields. STEM is FEM aims to boost the confidence of high school girls to build a career in the IT sector.
“I faced this problem in my own IT projects. The gender balance in a company always has a positive effect on business,” says Sergey Tokarev. He clearly wants to improve women’s participation in STEM in Ukraine. STEM is FEM provides an opportunity to every Ukrainian schoolgirl to get motivation, knowledge, and awareness about a career in STEM. The program organizes two-day events in a module related to a specific industry every two months. The schoolgirls can participate in these modules by entering a competition.
The participants of a module attend motivation lectures given by a female leader or employee of a specific industry. The industry professionals also give lectures to the participants of a specific module. Many leading businesswomen, ministers, ambassadors, and organizational heads have attended the modules under STEM is FEM. Similarly, the employees of Google, Global Logic, robot companies, agricultural startups, and other companies have also attended the relevant modules in the past year and a half.
Apart from that, STEM is FEM organizes excursions to a topic-related enterprise for the participants. The participants have visited the Aviation Museum, Global Logic, Kyiv Electric, and BMW Showroom. The enterprise visits are currently canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the educational modules, the competitive schoolgirls have created various projects. These projects include 3D printed benches, bicycle stations with advanced features, and robotic models for combating coronavirus. STEM is FEM awards the winners of the competition with useful industry-related courses and other prizes. However, some events in the new modules are currently suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions in Ukraine.
“STEM is FEM is also conducting various educational and awareness-boosting events in collaboration with other organizations,” explains Sergey Tokarev. The project collaborated with the Goethe Institute to launch a reading club. It provides training and workshops to the participating schoolgirls on regular basis. The aim of the project is to allow Ukrainian high school girls to use their time and knowledge in a most productive manner. The program also organizes special meetings for the participants to broaden their horizons.
The events are designed to develop the professional abilities of the schoolgirls and motivate them to enter the IT-related fields without any fear, according to Sergey Tokarev. The motivational lectures from the successful women in different industries boost the confidence of schoolgirls to get rid of their fear and become a woman in STEM.