Last week the world celebrated International Women’s Day and this past weekend, the Women in the World Summit took place in New York City. The summit offers the opportunity for women from around the world to get together and discuss the importance of educating girls throughout every corner of the earth, and what it takes to break down the barriers preventing some girls from receiving an education.
We sat down with Shelly Esque, Vice President and Global Director of Corporate Affairs at Intel, who also participated in the “Girls Can Change the World Panel,” at the Women in the World Summit. Between Intel’s Classmate PC project, the Intel Science Talent Search program, we have known for sometime that the company is heavily invested in education. But Shelly spoke to us more specifically about Intel’s continued efforts to bridge the gender and technology divide. During our conversation together, Esque brought up an interesting point, and that is that technology is gender neutral, yet it really has the potential to unleash a woman’s confidence.
In the U.S. we take internet access for granted, but in places like the Middle East, women are just a minority of online users. And this is a shame, because access to information leads to more empowered women. For example, Esque spoke of one Turkish woman who was at first only allowed to dust the computer in her home. Then Intel created a women’s education program in her local community center. After enrolling in the program, the woman not only learned some valuable computer skills, but she also gained the confidence she needed to apply those new skills to her business. Today her business has become so successful that she is going global. And because she is making money, her male family members no longer seem to be bothered with her using a PC.
Intel believes that technology brings young girls more opportunities for education. Of course, once girls have the opportunity to get an education, they also gain the ability to make a difference in the world. To that effect, Intel has been working with non-government organizations like Room to Read, which is an organization that creates libraries in places that don’t have any. Organizations like this one has helped bring more educational opportunities to young women in developing nations. Furthermore, since 1995, Intel has set-up over 100 Intel computer clubhouses around the world where girls can learn from mentors, as well as from each other.
Intel also has a special Hackathon event coming up soon at their head-quarters Oregon. This 2 day event brings together Intel’s software engineers with groups of young women. The Hackathon will start out with the software engineers coming up with app ideas to solve the girls problems. There will also be opportunities for young women to learn how to create their own apps. All in all, Intel’s goal is to move people to action to help empowering women and girls through education and technology.