Helping young women to innovate and invent
Support Getting into STEM is not just about finding jobs. A new initiative will help girl inventors develop new product ideas into businesses - and the help comes free
"Girls are under-represented in innovation and invention. In our culture the stereotype innovator is a boy, but how many great inventions are we missing because girls' ideas are overlooked?" says Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder of the Stemettes project to get more young women into STEM.
She cites two girls who invented smart toothbrush that tracks users' brushing technique on a mobile phone. At just 13, they are speaking to companies about developing the idea.
Now Stemettes has a new project to help young women from the UK, Ireland and EU to launch innovative STEM businesses: the Outbox Incubator, which will encourage young women to think 'out of the box' and incubate their business ideas.
It will offer seed funding, mentorship and support to girls 22 and under with innovative business and technology ideas. The incubator will run over the 2015 summer holidays, initially in London. Each week will take 45 girls, 15 of whom will live in the 'Outbox house'.
"All the girls' travel expenses (even from abroad), accommodation and food will be free," says Imafidon, who is passionate about getting girls into STEM. She herself got maths and ICT GCSEs aged ten, and a degree in maths and computer science at 20 and was named Young IT Professional of the Year 2013.
The Outbox Incubator involves three weeks of germination where girls learn about themselves as entrepreneurs, the mechanics of running a business and idea generation. The girls will also develop and practise business pitches ready for 'Demo Day' when they will pitch to business angels and mentors who will pledge money, time and support.
The girls will then work on refining their business models, prototyping, and building traction before taking their businesses live.
Girls who want to take part must apply before May 28th. Stemettes is also seeking role models (particularly women) from STEM to share their experience with the girls, plus companies and angels willing to put seed money into girls' projects, and post-programme mentors.
"Girls and influencers such as parents must understand all the routes into STEM including business startups," says Imafidon. "STEM organisations are helping through education to show that STEM subjects increase job prospects and pay. Better wage transparency would show that gender pay gap is smaller in STEM than in many other industries."