Empower Women in STEM with Our Partners in the Private Sector

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Women in lab coats pose for group picture in laboratory.
Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, non-profit medical research organization, was a mentor company for TechWomen's 2017 cohort. Haja Safiyatu Sovula, 2017 TechWomen participant from Sierra Leone, enjoyed sharing ideas with Chan Zuckerberg Biohub's Emily Crawford.

Empower Women in STEM with Our Partners in the Private Sector

Working in close collaboration with private sector partners across the United States, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs harnesses one of the United States’ most compelling resources: our spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. Each year, thousands of international exchange participants travel to the United States and engage with diverse American companies and organizations to develop business skills, foster leadership capacity, and strengthen networks around key global issues. These partnerships harness the collective power of public-private partnerships to make the world a better place.

Leaders from organizations across the United States serve as mentors to international exchange participants, who then return to their home country equipped with the skills and networks they need to inspire positive change in their own communities. American communities also benefit from international exchanges as these exchanges create a network of international leaders familiar with U.S. values and business practices, and the participants bring innovative ideas from their country and culture into the American mentor organizations, helping them solve real challenges. 

Through public-private collaboration, ECA convenes industry leaders around issues of global importance, leveraging shared expertise to maximize impact. One of the most vibrant areas for partnership is strengthening the participation of women and girls in science, technology, education and math (STEM). Programs such as TechWomen, TechGirls, and the recent International Visitor Leadership #HiddenNoMore project all enhance the role of women and girls in science, entrepreneurship, and innovation fields. 

“I loved working with a leader like Lindiwe whose enthusiasm is infectious. During my four weeks as a TechWomen mentor, I learned what it’s like to have unconditional passion for a cause. TechWomen has a massive impact for all parties involved,” said  Dr. Marily Nika, Google Techwomen Mentor and Engineering Program Manager, in a blog she wrote about her experience in 2017.

This weekend, as the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Sunday, February 11, the State Department is taking a moment to acknowledge the private sector, and how the companies that host exchange participants create life-changing opportunities and lasting connections for women and girls to succeed. Acting Assistant Secretary Jennifer Zimdahl Galt is leading a digital engagement campaign on Twitter, sharing insights about the roles of public-private partnerships and their tremendous impact on exchange programs that empower women and girls in STEM. Citing specific stories and facts in her tweets, she is inviting America’s companies to join us in a conversation about the power of the private sector and its integral relationship with the success of our exchange programs on #WomenScienceDay.

We invite companies, organizations, and other advocates who shape the experiences of exchange participants to join us in recognizing the public-private partnerships we are building together to empower women and girls worldwide.

Follow @ECA_AS for updates and share your own thoughts and ideas on Twitter and elsewhere on social media with #WomenScienceDay.

About the Authors: Kelsi Ward is Special Assistant for Public Private Partnerships in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Becca Bycott is a Senior Social Media Community Manager who provides digital engagement support for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State publication on Medium. 

Kelsi Ward
Becca Bycott