Three Weeks That Changed Everything

Intel is working to empower girls to create tomorrow’s technology through programs like this summer camp that brought girls from nine countries together in Rwanda.

Science, technology, engineering, and math careers are among the fastest growing, best paying in today’s global economy. But around the world, disproportionately few women work in these fields, and those who do are far less likely than men to hold leadership positions. Intel is working to decrease that gender imbalance through numerous programs, including a unique summer camp that brought girls from nine countries together in Rwanda.

Three Weeks That Changed Everything
I am grateful that WiSci has shaped me to be competitive, resilient, passionate about what I believe in, but most importantly, to be more open-minded about trying new things. …There is no word to describe this camp—only precious memories and overwhelming feelings.

“I am… no sorry, was, an art-inclined student. I loved everything that had at least a shred of the concept of self-expression,” says Anne Marie Abban Demitrus, a college student from Ghana. “I was on top of my art class, loved English, and couldn’t bear to part with French orals. Three weeks changed all of that.”

The three weeks that altered Demitrus’ life occurred in the summer of 2015, when she joined 119 other young women from the U.S. and eight African nations at a Women in Science (WiSci) science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math (STEAM) camp at the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda. The first-of-its kind program aimed to help bridge the gender imbalance that exists in STEAM fields through mentorship opportunities, leadership training, and access to education. The camp was conceived by Thomas Debass of the U.S. Department of State and Joseph Nsengimana of Intel, and it was organized by U.S. Department of State, Intel, Microsoft, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and the AOL Charitable Foundation.  

“The theory behind public-private partnerships like WiSci is that if we give girls technical skills, teach them how to network, inspire in them a global outlook, and match them with mentors, they can be high academic achievers, launch their own businesses, or successfully compete for jobs in the rapidly evolving global technology industry,” says Frances Colon, Deputy Science and Technology Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State.

WiSci attendees gained hands-on experience in computer science, programming, and robotics through a curriculum designed by Intel, Microsoft, and AOL. During the last week of the camp, the young women formed teams to develop and present their own engineering projects. Along the way, they had access to mentors in science and engineering fields, and met inspirational leaders such as Frances Colon and Jeanette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda.

Demetrus says that prior to the camp, she intended to become a lawyer, but now she plans to try her hand at computer engineering. WiSci 2015 gave Emily Adcock, a student from North Carolina, a similar epiphany: “I honestly did not believe that I was capable of pursuing a career in engineering or computer science,” she says. “While at camp, I not only gained technical skills needed in these fields, but gained the confidence I needed. … I can now proudly say that I would love to be an engineer!”

“We all came back from WiSci 2015 empowered to make a difference,” says Garima Singh, a student from Texas.

With all of us living in it, planet Earth doesn’t have a choice but to become a better place. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go change the world.

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