Clever Girls Club (CGC): Award winning educational STEAM programme for girls

Overview

Context

Action

Impact

Lessons Learned

References

Other Resources

Overview
Organiser:

Clever Play

Region:
Northern Africa and Western Asia
Keywords:

Camps, Clubs, Coding, Early childhood care and education (ECCE), Family, Primary education, Private sector, Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Secondary education

Project Type:

Career counselling and professional development, Non-formal education and extracurricular contexts, Role models and mentoring

Country:

Bahrain

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Context

A surge in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including arts/design (STEAM), is creating a critical need for women and girls to learn the technological skills and competencies they need to participate in the digital age. In 2019, the digital gender gap was 14% in the Arab States according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), while in Bahrain, according to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, women comprised only 41% of higher education graduates in STEM programmes. Despite low levels of participation, EQUALS research reports that in the Arab States (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia) girls perform better than boys in mathematics and in some cases in science. To bridge the digital gender divide and ensure more women in STEAM fields, early exposure and education on these subjects are needed, particularly for girls.

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Action

Clever Play is Bahrain’s first specialized STEAM education service provider that encourages students to explore and embrace the possibility of pursuing careers in STEAM. Clever Play focuses on creating technological skills development through child-friendly training on the fundamentals of the 21st century economy.


Even though children are naturally curious about bubbles and rockets, learning beyond classroom science can bring wider skills development and interest. Clever Play creates a paradigm shift for STEAM through engaging programmes and workshops that are adapted from good practices around the world. The programmes, clubs and camps target learners aged 3 to 14 to introduce critical skills at a stage when learning attitudes and behaviours are in a formative stage. By applying the arts as a creative route to science and mathematics, Clever Play supports learners in engaging their imagination in STEM, entrepreneurship and innovative projects.


Part of Clever Play, the Clever Girls Club (CGC), aspires to create an inclusive digital culture where there are equal opportunities for progress among girls and boys alike to narrow the gender digital divide. Overall, CGC is inspired by the great potential for gendered innovation in technology.

Impact

The clubs, through weekly meet-ups of girls aged 4 to 14, encourage curiosity about science and mathematics through hands-on, project-based creative and scientific projects.


More than 500 girls have been part of the CGC programme, each one wearing their STEAM badge with both pride and drive to be equal builders of a future world where girls and boys have equal access to digital skills. In addition to CGC in-house programmes, Clever Play also offers field trips and summer camp opportunities through collaboration with schools, government and highly reputable corporate institutions such as Gulf Petrochemical Industries, Co. (GPIC-Bahrain); Kuwait Financial House for Financial Literacy Workshop for Kids; and a Play Space collaborative mission with the National Space Science Agency (NSSA-Bahrain).


Clever Girls has also nurtured key partnerships in a variety of sectors and is expanding collaborations and activities with government and corporate entities throughout Bahrain. In 2019, a national campaign taught 1,000 Bahraini girls aged 7 to 14 how to code. Looking ahead in terms of tech education and gender equality aspirations, Clever Girls are currently building the infrastructures to start the very first non-governmental coding-for-girls initiative in Bahrain.

Lessons Learned
  • Early STEM exposure allows girls to learn early about their interest in technology and allows them time to excel and develop their skills.


  • Having a strong knowledge base in STEM subjects in early education is a solid foundation on which STEM careers are built.


  • Clever Play has found success in expanding exposure by supplementing its formal curriculum, particularly for elementary and middle school students, with STEM programmes that create on-campus educational experiences linking coursework with careers, involving parents in career talks and enriching mentorship opportunities.


  • STEM career awareness exposes girls early on to workplace and career guidance, shapes their academic choices and dispels gender stereotypes for girls.


  • Female STEM role models and mentors create better outcomes. In 2017, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found that women in engineering who had a female STEM mentor remained in the programme 100% of the time compared to 82% of those who had a male STEM mentor.


  • Motivators, mentors and friends provide a support ecosystem that helps bridge the gender gap.


  • Departing from book-based learning and replacing textbooks with tools allows girls to meet concepts hands-on and engage more deeply in skills development and learning.


  • To enhance exploration, it is important to undertake collaborative coding activities that girls can enjoy or develop with other girls.

References
Other Resources
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