We need to be more conscious about how we raise and inspire the next generation of women leaders. Our CEO & Co-founder, Anna Iarotska, has shared her thoughts on what each of us can do. Read below and share your ideas in the comment section.
Being a woman startup founder in the edtech space, I’m no stranger to the gender gap and bias that exists in the tech startup world. Looking at it from a critical eye and an open heart I’m starting to see this slowly change for the better.
The proportion of female founders has doubled in the last ten years. On a global scale we will see the percentage of women in tech positions rise over the next 10 years, due to the rising interest and awareness of STEAM programs. This is even seen at Harvard University where the number of women enrolling in computer science programs is becoming almost the same percentage as men.
How can we make sure this trend continues in the right direction?
We need to be more conscious about how we raise and inspire the next generation of women leaders.
Girls need role models that show them that risk taking and problem solving isn’t something just for boys. Risk taking isn’t just a masculine trait that is born out of biology. This is a learned trait; whether that’d be modeled by who raised us or what we see in the media and our communities.
Take the Mosuo community in China for example. This is one of the few societies in the world that is primarily run by women. Multiple studies were done to see if a society run by women yielded more women risk takers. In first graders they found that girls were actually more likely to take risks than boys from the same community. What is interesting is that once these Mosuo girls went to school with other children from outside their community, their appetite for risk taking declined. One reason for this is that they began to internalise the other children’s ideas that boys should take more risks and girls are more cautious.
So how can we be better role models?
- Support girls in risk taking and trying something new. Confidence comes from being able to take a risk, fail and then learn from it. We can’t put our young girls in a box and have them continue to do what “they are good at”. This breeds perfectionism, which is completely against a risk taking mindset.
- Share your story. At a very young age children notice the differences between gender, and develop a narrow sense of gender roles. Talk to young girls about a time you’ve experienced bias based on your gender. The more we talk openly, the more young girls can better understand how to navigate bias and injustice.
- Connect girls to leadership opportunities. This could be giving them a space to practice public speaking or decision making in your home/community. Or showing them different types of women leaders across different industries. The goal is to show them that every woman is different, and to have confidence in their decision making ability.
We need to help every young woman step into her power. That’s what my team and I strive to do at Robo Wunderkind. Our gender neutral robotic kits give both boys and girls the opportunity to use technology to bring their wildest ideas to life. Through play, they gain an early interest in technology, and learn that making mistakes is all a part of the process. That’s why we designed our kits to adapt to different learning styles, ages, and gender. We believe all children, regardless of their background, should witness the power of their ideas and strength in overcoming failures.
Do you have other ideas on how we can support the next generation of women leaders? I’d love to know!
Anna Iarotska graduated from the London School of Economics and worked in consulting for several years before she entered the start-up world. With a vision of inspiring children to use technology creatively, in 2014 she founded Robo Wunderkind – an award-winning edtech company. The robotics kits and coding apps of the Viennese start-up are now used by educators in more than 500 international schools and educational institutions and inspire more than 7,000 private users. Anna has been one of the top opinion leaders in digital educational trends in Europe and a 2019 winner of the prestigious The Spark award – The German Digital Prize in the category “Female Founder”. The company recently received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program as one of the European Innovation Champions.