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The International Day of the Girl 2020 focuses on helping young girls lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change, learn new skills towards the future they choose, and live free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS.
Editor's note: For International Day of the Girl 2020, Kaya Dorogi, the first winner of the Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM, shines a spotlight on three young women making a difference through STEM.
To mark the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, I thought what better way than to highlight young women who are making a positive impact on others. Whether through leading by example, being a role model to look up to, or paving the way for other girls to succeed, these young women share my passion for STEM and are worth celebrating for their amazing accomplishments.
Alexis Williams is a sophomore at New York University (NYU) studying computer science. This past summer, in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor during altercations with police officers, Alexis coded a website called pb-resources.com as a tool with links to petitions, books to read by Black authors, organizations to donate to and more.
Her use of her computer science knowledge and skills to create social change is an amazing accomplishment. Alexis has shown through the creation of her website that supports Black Lives Matter that women can make a huge impact on the world with STEM. Through her coding talents, Alexis is uplifting black voices and making social change. Alexis is an amazing example for young girls interested in computer science to look up to.
Jessica Li is a recent graduate from Harvard University, where she studied in economics, applied mathematics, and computer science. As a student, Jessica held several jobs in venture capital and tech startups on top of her studies. She has published much of her advice on Medium for others to learn from (https://medium.com/@jessli) and she is also the head of content at Elpha, a platform that empowers women in tech. She has succeeded in venture capital, where only 11% of women make up the industry, and she is now using her knowledge to accelerate the growth of a new and innovative startup called ZAGENO.
Jessica Li has proved to us that through hard work and determination, she has been able to achieve so much professionally despite being a recent graduate. Through these accomplishments, Jessica is inspiring growth and innovation for girls interested in technology.
Georgia Messinger is the founder of Girls Get IT, an intro coding bootcamp and mentorship program exclusively for female-identifying and non-binary elementary school students, and the Trill Project, a social network centered around peer support and mental health. Through both of these initiatives, Georgia has been able to make a positive impact on countless people for the past three years.
Girls Get IT is instilling confidence for STEM in girls mostly around age 7-8, and the Trill Project has helped and supported an international user base. Both Girls Get IT and the Trill Project are amazing platforms that are benefiting many.
Georgia has used technology and her knowledge to create positive change, and she is an amazing example for us to look up to for the impact she created for so many young girls.
The International Day of the Girl is an annual campaign from UNICEF that recognizes girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face around the world. It’s a great time for us to cheer on girls all over the world. Girls are capable of achieving so much and together have the ability to make such a positive impact on the people around them. Whether it is social activism, climate change awareness, social justice, innovating new technologies, or inspiring confidence in others, girls everywhere are changing the world.
Right now, only 28% of STEM jobs are held by women. That’s one reason why during my senior year in high school, I interviewed and photographed several female professors in STEM positions for the Women in Academia Project, and I dedicated it to Marky Székely and my grandmother who worked in STEM.
And International Day of the Girl means even more to me this year as a first-year student studying computer science at Columbia University in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
From the women before me to the girls who will follow after me, I hope that drawing more attention to International Day of the Girl will help even more girls have the confidence and opportunity to lead the next generation of social change.
Kaya Dorogi is a first-year student studying computer science at Columbia University in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is the first recipient of the Mary Szekely Scholarship for Women in STEM. Outside of school, Kaya works at a technology startup called Battlecard, where she joined as the first employee in 2018. She is also an alpine ski racer for Columbia's alpine ski race team. Kaya is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship, giving back to her community and uplifting others, and she loves to cook.
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