The next generation of entrepreneurial women is in rapid development thanks to female entrepreneurs creating opportunities which didn’t exist when they were young girls. For the many women working and leading their own way in technology, a number of projects have risen to support the intellectual and emotional development lacking in most standard female education programs.
And teenage girls are joining the movement. CyberGirlz is an Israeli community to empower high school girls to reach their dreams, or inspire them, within the world of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. High school girls are matched up with experienced women in the tech world who act as role models. Not just offering skills and mentorship in technology, CyberGirlZ also spent a weekend retreat nurturing youth confidence and power. The organization is managed by Tali Ben Aroya, who believes that women being uninterested in STEM might just be a marketing issue, when she saw only 20% of high school’s girls sign up. With a targeted shift, CyberGirlz is continuously growing and is supported by the Rashi Foundation and is operated by the Cyber Education Center.
Another project called QueenB creates a platform for middle school girls to create their own platforms – by learning how to code. When Hebrew University students Yasmin Dunsky and Noga Mann studied computer science, they were frustrated with the lack of women in the STEM world, viewing it as a lose-lose situation for both the women and the industry. They began a mentorship program which works with girls aged 14 and up on a weekly basis throughout the school year. The program not only provides the hard skills of JAVA and app development, but also offers a framework for young women to be brave, one of QueenB’s core values.
The nonprofit is growing rapidly. From the first group of only 40 girls, they saw over 200 sign up in the second year. Now entering its third year at the Hebrew University, the QueenB program will also be found at Tel Aviv University, the Technion and Ben Gurion University campuses. The project is supported by PICO Venture Partners, one of the few venture capital firms with a dedicated philanthropic arm, based in Tel Aviv.
Dunsky, QueenB co-founder, says that the teens leave with high school level coding skills but more so, the program became a practice in bravery. She continued with high hope, saying that “the industry finally understands the need for this and is trying to be more appealing to women. Now it’s up to us to step up.”