February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to emphasize the importance of gender balance in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). So many solutions to today’s global challenges demand a strong background in STEAM fields, and these disciplines are stronger when women are equally represented.
The State Department IVLP program, Hidden No More – Advancing Women in Steam Fields, examines women’s contributions to STEAM through research and development, education and teaching, leadership, and public policy formulation. The first iteration of this project brought 48 women leaders who represent “hidden talent” in their home countries to the United States to explore U.S. efforts to prepare women and girls for STEAM careers.
We encourage you to read the testimonials provided by our two Swiss participants in the program, Marion Schleifer and Tuğçe Nur Tas, to gain their unique personal insights into the importance of promoting STEAM education in countries’ education systems.
Marion Schleifer – State IVLP Hidden No More Alumna 2018
What I’m doing now in STEAM: I’m working for an open-source company named Hasura where I work with the cloud infrastructure team. I’m also teaching the free programming course that I co-founded in 2015.
Why I think women should be represented in STEAM: results are better if the team comes from a broad background. And a good first step to achieving diverse teams is striving for gender equality. Also, teams work better together if they contain different groups of people, so gender equality benefits both the success of the project, as well as the team’s happiness.
How Hidden No More helped me achieve my goals: although I’d done a lot for women in STEAM before the program, I was still very shy, thinking I didn’t belong there. The program showed me women face the same challenges all over the world. This gave me confidence that I’ve maintained ever since. Also, meeting and speaking to a lot of successful women in the program (both participants and women from the institutions we visited) helped me see that the sky is the limit :).
Tuğçe Nur Tas – State IVLP Hidden No More Alumna 2019
What I’m doing now in STEAM: I have two STEAM careers. My first career was in biochemistry analytics for cancer pharmaceuticals. Then I switched to software engineering in IT. My long-term career goal is to work in a way that combine both fields.
Why I think women should be represented in STEAM: Representation of Women in STEAM matters to me because I am tired of hearing girls saying „I am too stupid for math or science.“ I was one of them. My STEAM role models didn’t look like me so I didn’t think I would fit in. But the more representation and female role models we have, the more our next generation of girls can shape the future.
How Hidden No More has helped me achieve my goals: The Hidden No More program showed me what it is to be a whole person. I met 50 astonishing women who thought that we do belong in STEAM. The program gave me tools to navigate through my career and the confidence to ask for more. I have a support system all over the world and I will never feel alone when facing a challenging situation. Before the program I only had a brother, now I have 50 sisters as well.