Celebrating the Women Preparing the Next Generation of Innovators
We are so excited to celebrate Women’s History Month and acknowledge some of the great work women are doing in the tech space.
Women have left their mark on a number of innovative solutions but aren’t often highlighted. For example, did you know a Hollywood actress of the 1940s invented a frequency-hopping communication system that paved the way for the modern invention of WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth? Did you know research from Dr. Shirley Jackson, the first black woman to earn a doctorate from MIT, led to the inventions of caller ID, call waiting, touch-tone telephones and the portable fax machine?
Thunkable, the best no code app builder for all creators, strives to make tech accessible to all and empower the next generation of creators, especially women who have so often been left out of the conversation and are underrepresented in the STEM field. According to AAUW, “Women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college.” There is still a lot of work to do to close the gender gap in tech.
What better way to see the change we want to see in the world than amplifying the stories of women making a difference in the world and in the lives of others? In our series, we will highlight several women who are preparing the next generation of innovators and building the tech solutions they need.
The women we highlight here are on a mission to make a difference and impact with their work. These women span from Indonesia to India in their mission to empower the next generation of innovators with coding programs for kids, demonstrating the benefits of stem education, app development courses and much more. Let’s take a look at these women’s stories and the impact they are making in the lives of the next generation.
Making Tech Education Equitable in Indonesia
Kartika Dumasari is a co-founder of Studio Kode, a Tech-Ed program that offers accessible and affordable courses to make digital literacy more attainable for young learners in Indonesia. She and her Co-Founder, Shirley Rompis, began Studio Kode to make education and technology equitable in Indonesia since technology classes don’t start in Indonesian schools until middle school or later, and only a fraction of the nation’s 85 million children actually get access to such expensive technology.
“That's why I have to introduce technology education to a lot of schools [and to] a lot of parents, by making sure that they know that they have to start now because [technology] is what the future will be. If you start to learn the future in the future, then forever you will be [a] third world country,” says Dumasari.
She expresses that it is the younger generation that suffers. “When the children show the interest and then the adults or the educators and the parents cannot support that curiosity, then their curiosity dies because nobody can help them enhance their skill,” says Dumasari. “That's one thing I want our students in Studio Kode to know as well. These children, someday they can change the world. You will never know.”
Dumasari is very passionate about ensuring that she can show young students what is possible and strives to help them achieve their dreams and make an impact, sharing, “One thing that we always push from Studio Kode programs when they're making an app is that do not only make an app just to have fun, make an app that has a purpose as well.”
Dumasari’s advice to anyone hesitant or worried about pursuing their dream and making an impact is to not focus on the fear; instead, she says, “Fear should be an indicator that you're doing something great. Because if you're in your comfort zone twenty-four seven…you're doing yourself a disservice because you're not challenging your life. When I go and wake up in the morning and think, ‘What I have done for other people, for my family’ then I feel fulfilled. And that's what's important for me.”
Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs in India
Kriti Thakur works as a program leader with a focus on entrepreneurship for the Big Red Group, an EdTech firm based in India focused on bringing Ivy league education and 21st century skills to kids in Asian countries. The Big Red Group goes beyond formal education by providing foundational skills critical for personal growth. They facilitate students to think, communicate, collaborate and eventually lead.
Thakur grew up in India and went to law school but found her passion in education and mentorship. She was introduced to the Big Red Group as an expert and taught about entrepreneurship.
“Now I lead the entrepreneurship program and the partnerships. I'm also a coach. I just always want to make sure that I'm unleashing potential. I'm constantly being a mirror, being a buddy, just being there for young people, to make sure that they have the tools and the support they need to do awesome things,” shares Thakur.
In discussing how the Big Red Group utilizes Thunkable’s drag and drop app builder to provide young students with tech skills she shared, “In the context we operate in, [one] would think that the boys would like the coding and the Thunkable part of it more, at least that was one of the things we said we would be careful about. What was fascinating was actually the users were equal. The girls jumped on board, and they were not threatened by it, which was usually what you see when you introduce a new tool. It's changing now…it was really interesting because it felt non-threatening, it felt like everybody can do it. It's equally creative and equally logical.”
Thakur shares some words of advice to educators striving to empower the next generation, stating, “As educators, we have to stand in the future and work backwards from there because [young students] need this, they need the logical thinking. They need the interdisciplinary thinking, and they need to know that they have to act. What this does is — regardless of whether it's computer science or math or science or anything, regardless of the subject — what it stands for to me as an educator is that if a child is equipped and empowered to build on something that they find interesting or impactful, that is unleashing their superpower. It's one of the tools we give them and we armed them with.”
Empowering Girls Globally To Make a Difference in Their Communities
Tara Chklovski is the CEO and founder of Technovation, a Tech-Ed nonprofit that empowers girls around the globe to become leaders, creators and problem-solvers. Chklovski grew up in India, received an undergraduate degree in Physics and came to the U.S. to gain her PhD as an Aerospace Engineer.
As she began her career she wanted to make a bigger impact with her work and shared with us in a fireside chat, “ I looked at what are the big problems in the world and what are my skills, and the big problem in the world to me was inequality. There's a certain unfairness there where just because of where you're born, your destiny should not be shaped by that. And education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet to fix that.”
Chklovski spent several months researching some strategies that are already working, to bring underrepresented groups into STEM, as that is a fast pathway out of poverty.
From this research and mission to make STEM education accessible, Technovation (formerly Iridescent) was born in 2006. The Technnovation curriculum is rooted in “project based learning, constructivism making, and connections with mentors from various industries.” Chklovski explains, “That's really the building blocks of Technovation, where adults who have high expectations, working with young people — especially minorities and especially girls — on things that are meaningful to them, makes the big impact; that's where we are today.”
Today, Technovation has made a difference in the lives of young girls around the world and shows the benefits of STEM education by welcoming more than 130,000 children and parents, and 14,000 mentors, to participate in its programs in 100+ countries.
Chklovski shares, “I just think that we are handing a very broken world to students without giving them the skills to solve these very complex real world problems. So, it's not just about [introducing Computer Science to students] per se, but it's really about [providing] real-world problem solving, complex systems thinking. And guess what? Technology is a very powerful tool that is important for young people to be able to tackle these big problems with.”
Technovation is providing young girls with the skill sets needed to not only access STEM courses but pursue them as a career. According to a third-party evaluator, in 2021, Technovation’s long-term impact was such that “76% of Technovation alumnae pursue STEM degrees, and 60% of Technovation alumnae work in STEM-related careers — more than double the percentage of U.S. women working in STEM”.
Making a Difference for a Better Tomorrow
Kartika Dumasari’s, Kriti Thakur’s and Tara Chklovski stories are inspiring and moving. Through their passion and missions to empower the younger generation, they are making a difference in the lives of children around the world by giving them the tools they need to create solutions.
Join us for the next part in our series which will dive into the women that are advancing their businesses by creating the mobile solutions they need with Thunkable. Interested in seeing what is possible with Thunkable’s no code native app builder? Get started today!