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California
light rain
2.4 ° C
6.8 °
-1.7 °
90 %
0.5kmh
100 %
Mon
10 °
Tue
4 °
Wed
9 °
Thu
7 °
Fri
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Monday, January 17, 2022

Olay’s #STEMtheGap initiative is helping us break gender biases and stereotypes


“Girls should play with dolls and miniature kitchen sets; boys should play with cars and robots.”


“Girls should engage in creative fields; boys should engage in science and math.”

“Women are natural nurturers; men are natural leaders.”

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We’ve all come across such societal stereotypes that reveal how our gender is conveniently used to assign roles, responsibilities, and interests. Right from an early age, children are told what they ‘can’ be good at, ‘how’ they should speak, dress, and conduct themselves, and ‘what’ they are likely to become once they grow up. These biases often end up affecting a young person’s self-perception, their academic performance, and the subjects they end up choosing. In a world where children are continuously reinforced that
‘girls are better at reading and boys are better at mathematics,’ it isn’t difficult to understand why the percentage of women with careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is staggeringly low.

As per research, in India, women make up only 14% of the STEM workforce. This is a shocking statistic considering India is the
world’s third-largest publisher of science and engineering research papers! This puts the spotlight on the existence of gender gaps in STEM jobs in India. A strong male-dominated work culture along with the age-old gender bias that women cannot excel at STEM is a roadblock that India currently needs to clear. Interestingly, there has been an increase in the number of STEM jobs in India in the last few years. As per a
report by job site Indeed, there was a 44% increase in the number of STEM jobs in India from 2016-2019- a trend that is only set to escalate in the coming years. In order to participate effectively in the jobs of the future such as automation, robotics, data science, AI, etc., Indian girls and women should be encouraged to pursue STEM education and careers.

Erasing gender boundaries with
#STEMTheGap Initiative

The prevalence of gender-related biases from childhood to adolescence up until adulthood has often dissuaded women from pursuing STEM. Many women who venture ahead in life professionally are restricted to fields of study such as teaching, nursing, fine arts and home economics among others. Today, of the 11% colleges in India exclusively reserved for women, the majority offer programs in Arts and Commerce rather than Science. Further, due to the reduced STEM engagement, there are also not many role models that they can look up to.

Event #STEMTheGap (2)

Considering many conscious and especially unconscious societal biases limit women when making choices about their lives, leading skincare brand Olay has launched a meaningful initiative called #STEMTheGap. As a brand that is rooted in science and is for women, this initiative aims to create noise to help close the gender gap in STEM. For this, Olay has unveiled a hard-hitting film that highlights how our unconscious biases condition girls that STEM is not for them. The campaign is an invite to everyone to collectively #STEMTheGap by bringing about a change in our mindsets and questioning the biases that we all carry.

The film showcases different scenarios across the country where girls who show an interest in STEM are on the receiving end of the bias. It poignantly narrates examples of a girl who is told to not do a task only because her clothes might get dirty, a teacher assuming that a science project was done by a male peer, a young girl encouraged to dress up as a princess rather than her preference of a robot, or a girl who is complimented as becoming a ‘star’ celebrity rather than an astronaut for a future profession. Watch it below:

Changing the gender equation in partnership with LEAD

In addition to unconscious biases, limited educational access, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India, and lack of opportunities to go into STEM as adults also mean that many women in India do not give a second thought about pursuing a STEM-based career. Olay, therefore, is taking action with an aim to #STEMTheGap by partnering with LEAD, India’s foremost School EdTech player, to fund STEM scholarships for girls across India.

Since 2021, Olay is sponsoring tuition fees, as well as tablets and data packs for girls across 6 states. The brand believes that the future of girls depends on what they are taught, yet there is still a long way to go for equal access to education. This association with LEAD will enable many girls to pursue their passions and interests, especially during the early foundational years.

Speaking on the #STEMTheGap initiative, Priyali Kamath, Senior Vice President, Skin & Personal Care – Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Procter & Gamble (P&G) said,
“Olay is a brand deeply rooted in science, and with 50% of our scientists being women, we know that girls have the potential to become amazing scientists. With more and more jobs becoming STEM-based, we believe it’s our collective responsibility to prepare girls for the jobs of the future. That is why we are committed to helping close the gender gap in STEM. We are delighted to have created such a heart-warming yet thought-provoking film that stitches together different everyday scenarios to highlight the underlying gender bias that prevails in our society. Beyond this, our scholarship program with LEAD is already making a real and meaningful difference today, and we are excited to be part of driving a positive future for girls in India. Together, let’s #STEMTheGap.”

Olay’s #STEMTheGap initiative is a remarkable effort to help give women equal opportunities to pursue and thrive in STEM-based careers. The campaign is also an eloquent conversation starter on the need for a diverse and talented STEM workforce.

Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Olay by Times Internet’s Spotlight team

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