Two years ago, Ukraine welcomed a new charitable educational project STEM is FEM. It was aimed at combatting gender bias in technical industries and promoting STEM specialties among female high school students. Sergey Tokarev, an investor and a co-founder of the project, explains why the project managed to be so successful and what is its ambitions are.
Immersing in STEM
The main activity of STEM is FEM is focused on conducting educational modules every two months. Each module lasts for two days and is dedicated to a particular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industry. During a weekend, students have an opportunity to talk to experienced professionals who already have built a successful career in the industry as well as to motivational speakers, such as representatives of big business, international organizations, Ukrainian ministries, foreign diplomats, and so on. While industry speakers show the girls how the industry works from the inside, the motivational speakers inspire young students not to be afraid of going forward with their dreams and never give up despite all the possible obstacles.
This way, STEM is FEM has already conducted educational modules dedicated to finance, IT industry, robotics, mechanical engineering, architecture, and other tech-related spheres. Altogether, there were 13 modules and each of them included a creative contest to allow girls not only to be a passive listener but also to try their strength and apply new knowledge to practice.
As a result of these contests, the girls have made 3D models of ecological bicycle stations, robotic models that could help fight coronavirus-related challenges, created concepts on new metal alloys, and many other. The winners of the contests got valuable prizes that may help them pursue their career: a graphic tablet, a professional microscope, a drone, a 3D printer, etc.
Sergey Tokarev explains that these contests are exciting even for experienced professionals since young students have an unusual way of thinking and able to look at common problems with uncommon point of view. He says that he was especially impressed by the idea of Veronica Podlesnova who offered to use modified peptides to treat viral diseases and the idea of Maria Kalinichenko who created a concept of a robot to help Paralympians train with help of AI.
Creating a community
STEM is FEM activities does not involve only educational modules: in between them, the project coordinators organize numerous meetings that cover different interests of the youth. For instance, in the literature club lintMINT, launched by STEM is FEM and the Goethe-Institut, students discuss sci-fi novels. There are also various webinars that tell young people about managing an Instagram account for their career, cybersecurity, sketching to make notes more efficient, etc. There were also meetings with representatives of international organizations, such as UNISEF and UNDP.
Members of the STEM is FEM community that are interested in science had an opportunity to meet Ukrainian female scientists in person: embryologist Olga Malyuta, geneticists Oksana Piven and Ekaterina Shvanova, ornithologist Natalia Atamas, biologist Olga Maslova, and others.
Altogether, STEM is FEM attracted more than 1000 people to their events for the last two years. The community mostly consists of young female students but also include other people interested in technical and science careers.
SHE is SCIENCE
A year ago, the project started a subsidiary initiative—an educational art exhibition SHE is SCIENCE. According to the Roosh investor Sergey Tokarev, SHE is SCIENCE managed to get not only the most famous Ukrainian illustrators (Sergei Maidukov, Zhenya Polosina, Anna Ivanenko, Olya Dekhtyareva, Anna Sarvira) but also more than 500 schoolgirls to create the project.
While the illustrators made portraits of the Ukrainian female scientists, the schoolgirls from all over Ukraine sent their essays to describe achievements of the scientists and how their career contributed life in general.
As the result, on June 10, STEM is FEM presented the art exhibition SHE is SCIENCE with the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and many foreign officials as guests. Afterwards, the exhibition was shown in big and small towns all over the country, and recently it also was shown abroad. As Sergey Tokarev says, the first country that hosted the exposition was Germany.
However, the plans are to keep on showing the exhibiton in other countries, so the world know about Ukrainian prominent women. And as for STEM is FEM, it keeps on gathering community to let girls know more about STEM industries.