Global Reach: Grantee Partners

The Women’s Foundation

Context:

In 2018, The Women’s Foundation (TWF) published a research on Gender Differences in Hong Kong’s STEM Education. The key findings were unfortunately not surprising:

  • Female students not only start with a lower proportion of STEM-related electives in their education, but they are more likely to drop STEM-related courses than their male peers later.
  • Female students tend to have lower self-efficacy and interest in STEM subjects and rank these subjects as less important for their future studies and careers than male students do.
  • Even high-achieving female students in STEM are subject to gender biases that suggest only boys have the inborn talent to study STEM, especially Math, efficiently and effortlessly, whereas female students can only attain good results through rote learning and practice.
  • Female students have a higher preference than male students to work in jobs that can help other people and that they think are meaningful, and have a lower preference than male students to take a job with STEM-related characteristics.

These stereotypical beliefs and realities in the HK society undermine girls’ and young women’s confidence and discourage them from pursuing STEM as a university major or as a future career leading to an important gender gap. Worldwide, this gender gap is particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering. Giving (young) women in HK, especially those living at the margins, equal opportunities to pursue and thrive in STEM careers does not only fight poverty, but helps additionally to narrow the gender pay gap in enhancing their economic security – not to speak about the fact to ensure a diverse and talented STEM workforce in the future.

Organisation:

The Women’s Foundation, founded in 2004, is a leading organisation in HK dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls by challenging gender stereotypes, empowering women in poverty and advancing women leaders, by the means of conducting research, running community programmes and engaging in education and advocacy. They engage both women and men as supporters and drivers of positive change for gender equality.

The four main pillars of their programmes are:

1) Community Programme for Youth: focusing on youth empowerment and challenging gender stereotypes through the implementation of sustainable programmes and initiatives. An example is Girls Go Tech Programme that we suggest to fund in this grant; another example is the T.E.E.N. Programme (Talent, Empowerment, Equality and Networking) that provided leadership and gender awareness trainings as well as mentoring (by undergraduates) to underprivileged adolescents. The programme is currently continuing as T.E.E.N. Alumni Programme focusing on investing in the leadership development of the alumni.

2) Community Programme for Marginalized Women: aiming to create positive and measurable change for women’s economic self-reliance.

3) Pipeline Initiatives: aiming to increase number of women in decision-making and leadership roles by engaging both male and female. A powerful example is their Mentoring Programme for Women Leaders where they placed over 1,100 professional women in rewarding mentoring relationships alongside personal development. Whilst they also pay emphasis on leveraging male influence on gender equality within businesses via another programme called Male Allies Initiative.

4) Research, Advocacy and Communications: focusing on gender issues in HK affecting women and girls. Campaign examples include She Objects with an award-winning documentary challenging consumers and content creators on reflecting media’s portrayal of female and gender issues, and most recently #MakePeopleCount campaign was launched to raise awareness of sexual violence in HK and call for urgent changes to legislation, employment policies and the education curriculum. TWF also have completed a number of researches, including one called Girls and STEM Education in Hong Kong that strives to explore factors affecting girls’ choices on STEM subjects and offering suggestions in gender balancing.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 1st grant to The Women’s Foundation Limited (TWF) will enable TWF to run and strengthen their Girls Go Tech (GGT) programme for 700 girls and young women 14 to 18 years old. The GGT programme consists of: 1) Self-directed online courses on STEM related topics (e.g. 3D modelling, Coding) offered on an online platform where more than 30 courses are currently available. Girls choose courses of their interest and complete them at their own pace. 2) Real-life activities related to STEM/tech such as company visits, a hackathon and STEM-related career guidance sessions (e.g. workshops on CV development and interview skills, meeting with female leaders and role models). 3) Online tutoring/tutor support activities, a pilot in the frame of the GGT programme solely funded by EMpower: Girls can access for the first time online, personalized, and individual support through email as well as tutor workshops directly related to course topics. EMpower’s catalytic funding for this pilot component will allow TWF to explore best-fit tutoring and monitor impact to offer the most effective ways of supporting girl participants in the future.

You can support our work with The Women’s Foundation and our other grantee partners.

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