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Real Girl Leaders: Denada Bakiasi

Today is the 2nd day of our #RealGirlLeaders blog series, highlighting 2015 IGNITEChange Finalist, Denada Bakiasi.  Denada is 15 years old and a student at Brighton High School.  If Denada was given $1000 to change to role of women and girls in her community, city or school she would start by empowering women and girls to pursue careers in STEM!

Empowering Women in STEM

We are given one chance at life, and we should be able to pursue our dreams and live this life denada.jpgto the fullest. We should never feel as if our gender, our ethnicity, and religion is holding us back. There’s many times that I have resented being a female , since I was always expected to clean the house, cook, take care of my cousins,  while the boys of my same age were allowed to play because “they are boys”. In fairytales, which were the entertainment of my childhood, the princess would wait for the prince to come and save her, In movies woman were always weak, petrified waiting, while the man figured out how to save them.  In cartoons, it was always guys depicted doing awesome experiments, while the girls were portrayed as simply pretty. How the money for the family was allocated was always a man’s job. In my family men always own the property and if the man dies the property is left to his male relatives, and nothing is left to his wife and daughters. All of these things add up to make a girl lack confidence and feel inferior to boys; to make me lack confidence and to make me feel inferior to boys.

 In order to change this inferior perception in myself and others, we need to reshape our insight into how we view ourselves. We need to realize, that we are capable of doing whatever we set our mind towards. Each and every woman can be a leader and already is a leader in her own way. Throughout history women are pushed into being housewives and being dependent on their husband, however times have changed and in this generation we are becoming independent, and we have the chance to change our predicament and be treated equally to men. In school we always learn about great male scientists, who have changed the way that we understand the world, however we seldom learn about woman that have helped to make a change. This is not true however; there are many woman out there that have contributed to science such as Rachel Carson, whose work revolutionized the global environmental movement. We always learn about the genius of Einstein brilliant equation for the relationship between energy mass and the speed of light, however we seldom hear of  Émilie du Châtelet who came up with the equation for the  correct relationship between mass, velocity, and energy that Einstein based his equation on.

Science Technology Engineedenada3.jpgring Mathematics (STEM) is an amazing field; I myself am very captivated by its intricacies. Unfortunately, I have noticed that in every engineering initiative that I have participated, the majority of the time, there has been a ratio of 2 girls for every 13 boys. That is a big concern that so many girls get left out of the engineering opportunities, and how amazing this is given the amount of discussion around the issue. Engineering is fantastic, you basically learn how to bring your own ideas to life, you work on exciting projects in which you only succeed if you cooperate with other people. I believe that if girls get to work on a project they will see how different it is from what they think it is.

Thankfully, at this time of STEM many more opportunities are opening for women. STEM plays a great role in the World’s economy. This is a great field for women to get into now. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. Women bring to STEM fields a different and important perspective that may have been missing when their voice was not being heard. STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board. It's crucial for young women to understand what STEM is and see if they are interested on it. It is not just that women need to be in STEM, it is more importantly that STEM needs women.

In order to help young girls realize that they can be good leaders, and successful in fields traditionally dominated by man I would like to hold a series of after school workshops to empower these young women. In this afterschool workshop there will be plenty of nutritious food. We are also going to give a pre-workshop survey to the students to find what their preconceived ideas are on STEM. At first I would like to gather every girl and include some fun activities in order to get them to introduce themselves, and know one another. By knowing one another they will feel more comfortable to be themselves, and make some new friends. After the activities, we are going to hold a discussion group where we are going to talk about STEM and what they know about it. I am also thinking of doing a presentation on STEM, so they can get a better understanding on it, and see all the opportunities that STEM offers. In this discussion group any question that the students will have will be answered.The group discussion will make them feel more involved and gain a better concept on STEM.

After working with the concepts of STEM with the students, there will be an activity, enabling the student to build six legged walking insect robots. While it may seem strange, building this robot will be fun, engaging and very inexpensive. Each insect robot kit can be put together for a cost of $15 dollars. The maximum time that it would take to build an insect robot is 40 minutes. This project also requires very simple tools. How could they not fall in love with STEM forever after watching all their little robots run around the tables together, banging into each other or better yet avoiding each other. This will be an activity that they’ll remember for the rest of their life, and spread a message to their friends. I am confident that building this little robot will change the course of some lives, as building a robot has changed the course of my life.

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