littleBits introduced a new program called Snap the Gap, an action-oriented program focused on impacting the gender gap.
littleBits made the official announcement on Equal Pay Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap. The Walt Disney Company is financing the initiative, valued at $4 million.
“Our goal is not for every 10-year-old girl to grow up to be a programmer or an engineer,” Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO, littleBits, said. “Snap the Gap is about exposing young girls to the power of STEM in an environment full of creativity and free of stereotypes, so they can grow up to be confident change-makers.”
The program focuses on three components to impact the gender gap: hands-on learning, a peer community, and mentorship.
- Hands-on Learning: Girls who participate in hands on learning activities are 40 percent more likely to know the jobs that are possible through STEM. Participating girls will receive a uniquely branded littleBits kit encouraging them to learn through physical play, turn their ideas into inventions, and solve problems they care about.
- Immersion in a Safe Community of Inventors: Girls will be enrolled for one year into JAM.com, the largest paid subscription course platform for kids. This is a safe space for girls to feel as though they belong and meet like-minded peers with whom they can invent and share their work.
- Mentorship: Girls who have mentors are 2.5 times more likely to be confident in their ability to succeed in school and careers. That’s why UC Davis and CA Million Women Mentors will pair girls with mentors and provide technical assistance to mentors and site coordinators to allow girls to experience a deeper level of engagement while growing a strong STEM identity.
“We have a history of successful collaboration with littleBits, pairing our beloved characters and stories with imaginative, interactive technology to inspire children, especially girls, to embrace and explore the power and possibilities of STEM,” said Christine McCarthy, senior executive vice-president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company. “With Ayah’s passion and her company’s innovative approach to education through play, we believe littleBits is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in STEM. Disney is proud to support this groundbreaking effort to create new and engaging opportunities for girls to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”
Together with The Walt Disney Company, University of California Davis, and Million Women Mentors, littleBits will donate 15,000 STEAM Starter Packs in the first year of the program.
After the first-year pilot, Snap the Gap intends to add five new states to its efforts, reaching all 50 states in 10 years.
For more information, visit www.SnaptheGap.org.