Around the world, girls are significantly under-represented in education. This inequity has a huge impact on their future lives — not only in terms of the opportunities afforded by classroom learning, but in other choices that affect their lives, such as marriage, children and work.
We know from history, experience and numerous studies that learning plays a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality. Today, 72 million children worldwide are not in school and lack any access to the facilities, teachers and content they need to learn even the most basic skills.
At Dell, we believe that we have a collective responsibility to “pay it forward” for the next generation and are committed to putting our technology and expertise to work where it can do the most good for people and the planet. This includes accelerating opportunities for children through our Powering the Possible youth learning program, which seeks to bridge the learning gap and teach needed information and technology skills. At Dell, we can see first-hand how technology can positively impact people’s lives and businesses. Today, learning about technology, along with science, math and engineering (often referred to as STEM), will equip young people for a diverse range of careers. Part of what we teach is that technology doesn’t just lead to a career in IT – it’s central to many of the most popular career choices for young people, from the creative industries to online businesses.
Learning how to think critically, problem-solve, communicate, and collaborate are foundational skills that every child needs, and they are skills that Dell team members use every day. To jump-start learning these important skills, Dell partners with community-based charities, providing them with the latest Dell technology, financial resources and expertise as part of our Powering the Possible program. Many of these community-based charities have created programs that tie to developing these skills for careers in science, technology, engineering or math. And while our programs are not designed exclusively for young girls, more than half of our impact directly benefits young girls.
In the US, several key programs address girls and STEM up front, such as Girl Scouts, Girlstart, GenAustin and Latinitas. We work with Girl Scouts of the USA in many cities and support the Journey and Connect through Technology program, which engages girls in leadership and technology skills-building experiences. This program enriches what girls learn in school and introduces them to potential future academic studies and careers in the STEM fields.
A 2011-2012 survey taken of Girl Scouts who attended Dell-funded technology programming at one of the five sites showed:
- 73 percent of girls reported they now know how to use technology to communicate important messages in creative ways
- 82 percent of girls now believe they can accomplish more with the use of technology
- 86 percent of girls reported that the program had influenced them in thinking how they can contribute to their community
Closer to home in Austin, we’ve been partnering with Girlstart, an organization that increases girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through innovative education programs. In July 2012, Girlstart After School and the Girlstart Summer Camp were recognized as effective STEM programs by Change the Equation in its recently released ‘STEMWorks’ database. This spring, Girlstart’s programs were highlighted extensively in a Booz Allen Hamilton study, conducted on behalf of NASA’s Summer of Innovation project. The study identified 50 best practices in providing out-of-school-time STEM programming to at-risk 4th-9th grade students. Girlstart was one of 13 organizations in the U.S. highlighted in the report.
We believe that through all our partnerships and the investments of our resources, technology and employee expertise, thousands of young girls around the world will have improved possibilities for their future. Whether they choose to pursue a career in STEM or a different field, we are proud of their achievements thus far, and we look forward to their securing contributing places in society.