“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller
Almost five months of planning and organizing with our Cisco Greenlight for Girls (g4g) Barcelona project team (Mayte Cubino Gonzalez, Maite Cadenas Sanchez & Esther Roure Vila) came to a successful end on Saturday, May 7 at the La Salle University in Barcelona, Spain. Our dream of launching a g4g STEM event for young women ages 10-15 for the first time ever in Spain finally became a reality, as we welcomed 170 girls and their intrigued parents to the campus this past weekend.
When Cisco announced Barcelona as a key pilot for its smart cities initiative two years ago, we saw an opportunity to turn a dream into a reality. With money already invested into an Innovation Center in Barcelona (slated to open in the summer of 2016), our team knew it was time to harness our passion for getting more girls into STEM. Mayte, Maite and Esther all studied engineering in Barcelona at La Salle University, giving us the perfect role models for what it means to be a successful woman in technology.
With the support of Cisco Spain and Cisco Services, 21 employee volunteers helped run the event. They served as group leaders to the students and managed many of the STEM workshops throughout the day. One of the workshops featured the popular Arduino programming tool, and another taught the girls routing and switching in a fun, hands-on way.
The girls had a blast in a total of 15 different workshops, creating colorful ‘worms’ made out of polymer with Covestro; printing magic with HP technology; virtual reality & rugby with AIG; making LED flashlights with Simon; and building & constructing therapeutic robots used for children with autism with La Salle University, to name a few!
Julie Chrysler represented Cisco Networking Academy as a workshop leader and shared how inspired she was by the students in attendance:
“It was amazing to participate in Greenlight for Girls Day as a facilitator for the Cisco Networking Academy workshop. In just one hour, the girls learned the basics of connecting things through digitization and developing their own ideas about how they could improve their everyday lives using technology. Although these events aim to inspire girls in STEM, I think the girls inspire us as much as we do them! Fantastic energy and I look forward to participating in future editions.”
What’s unique about these g4g events is that that they bring together so many different STEM companies and organizations for one common cause — to inspire and build the future generation of female STEM talent. Together, we’re breaking down the stereotypes that girls may have around these subjects and showcasing exceptional role models.
We hope that by running these events, we can ultimately fill the growing skills gap in today’s digital economy. There’s never been a better time to motivate girls to enter STEM fields, especially before they begin high school or college. By exposing them to hands-on learning and technology at an early age, we’re inspiring them to pursue new careers while they’re still in school and developing ideas about the world.
This week, a mother of the one of the girls who attended wrote us, sharing in her daughter’s excitement:
“I just wanted to let you know that my daughter and several of her friends attended the event on Saturday in Barcelona and said it was fantastic. Teenagers don’t often say that about something educational which takes place all day on a Saturday. So congratulations, it sounds like it was a fabulous event. Thanks!”
Letters like that make the hard work, time and effort of that goes into g4g worth it. When hundreds of parents eagerly register their daughters for these STEM events and you see the genuine interest from the girls when they learn something new, you know you’re working successfully toward a greater cause. Being a role model is incredibly important, both to the students and our volunteers, and we need to show the girls just how exciting, fulfilling, and enjoyable a career in STEM can be.
Visit our Corporate Social Responsibility website to learn how Cisco is inspiring women to pursue careers in STEM